On September 29, 1876 a private horse track was built from dirt in West Allis, Wisconsin. On September 11, 1903 the track hosted it’s first session of cars on a new pavement surface.
Following the 2015 season, the track has been mostly activity free. A few local clubs have rented the road course and the drag strip has seen some use.
But the oval, the mile, it’s just been sitting there collecting dust. The disappointing prospect began to surface that the track appeared to be heading for the bulldozers.
Pause that plan.
For 2019, it’s back in business and the bulldozers have been avoided for now. The 1-mile oval is set to host the ARCA Midwest Tour on June 16th.
“It is our continued initiative to bring racing back to the historic Milwaukee Mile,” stated Kathleen O’Leary, CEO at the Wisconsin State Fair Park. “We are excited to host this race on Father’s Day in 2019.”
“This is an interesting situation; I was there (several) years, approached the fair board. We were looking at a date and a sanction and it just didn’t pan out,” Bob Sargent told the journal sentinel.
“So I’ve had my little relationship there, my feelers, so we kept looking at that facility we wanted to add to our list.”
This isn’t the first time the ARCA Midwest Tour has made a stop at the flat 1-mile track. They ran three consecutive races there from 2012-2014.
“I have only been able to race there once and didn’t do so well,” commented 2018 ARCA Midwest Tour Champion Dalton Zehr. “Now that we are running as well as we are, I am excited to see racing back at the Milwaukee Mile and I know that I can contend for the win.”
“Hopefully we’re going to duplicate the first year and fill the grandstand,” Sargent said. “We are very conscious of what happened there.”
“That’s what we do; we go in there and evaluate the good things, the bad things, the positives, negatives. Hopefully we bring all the positives and we become aware of the negatives of the past and don’t do it again.”
The track is famous in the racing world. But fame isn’t all it takes to put fans into the grandstands.
In 2009, the track lost their promoter. The fair board worked to find a new one but couldn’t. Both Indycar and NASCAR hosted races in 2009. Carl Edwards won the final NASCAR Nationwide Series event there on June 20th, 2009.
However, heading into 2010 the track was still lacking a promoter. The major professional motorsports sanctions couldn’t wait for the track to pull it together. Both series bailed on the track in 2010 and replaced the WI events.
Indycar star Michael Andretti began promoting Indycar races at the track in 2011. However, he was unable to make it work and after the 2015 season, the Indycar Series once again abandoned the track.
Today, the track still lacks a full-time promoter. However, rental of the track is on the table for one-off promoters like what Bob Sargent is set to pull off.
Track Enterprises is hosting 37 races in 2019 and one more is to be announced. The diverse promoter hosts everything from dirt to pavement. ARCA, USAC, ASCS, AMA Flat Track, World of Outlaws Late Models, World of Outlaws Sprint Cars, MSCS and event Monster Truck events are hosted at a wide range of speedways under the Track Enterprises banner.
“Scheduling is a big thing when you try to take events somewhere, so we’re trying to lock in this Father’s Day weekend,” Sargent said. “We’re already looking towards 2020, 2021, how to shape this and keep it growing. But this is our start at the Milwaukee Mile.”
The Milwaukee Mile has a few other events on the schedule for 2019. The Mid-American Stock Car Series, Midwest Truck Series and Upper Midwest Vintage Racing Series will all make a trip to the Wisconsin track.