Vintage racers from yesteryear unlikely to rev up at the Milwaukee Mile Speedway this summer
IndyCar season was scheduled to start March 13 in St. Petersburg, Florida and would be followed by a vintage series event at the Milwaukee Mile racetrack in June. However, officials have already canceled all races nationwide through the month of August. It remains unlikely that any competition will be held this year due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The famous Milwaukee Mile had begun cleaning the track, adjacent to the State Fair grounds in West Allis, in preparations for what would be another season of weekend competitions. But the social and economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic has left all races for the 2020 season in doubt.
Also, Governor Tony Evers announced on April 9 that the Army Corp of Engineers had officially begun mobilizing at the Exposition Center at Wisconsin State Fair Park to develop it as an alternative care facility (ACF), to support local medical infrastructures in response to the spread of COVID-19.
During the shutdown, IndyCar and its drivers have plunged ahead into eSports. iRacing is an online motorsports simulation platform founded in 2004. The digital competition is more realistic than the Nintendo racing games of yesteryear, an fans have so far embraced the platform as a consolation prize. But the Milwaukee Mile is not represented in the virtual library of venues.
As one of the oldest race tracks in the country, they Milwaukee Mile broke ground in 1899 and began racing in 1903. It was originally a dirt track with a one mile oval, until it was paved in 1954. The main attraction hosted annually at the venue has been the Midwest ARCA Tour on Fathers Day weekend, June 14. Vintage Indy Cars will lap the track, provided the season is reinstated by then. Participants from past years have included the Harry Miller Racing cars of the 1920s and 1930s.
Watching the old cars, and the effort required to drive them, has shown the level of skill and bravery needed to race in competitions like the Indy 500. Harry Miller built a great engine for his era, and the cars remain mechanical works of art. Most have been restored to their original beauty, and fans enjoy watching them run exhibition laps.
Because of safety restrictions, the vintage vehicles no longer race. None of the cars have seat belts or roll bars. Some even have a second seat for a mechanic, who drove along and was expected to fix problems during the race. The track at the Milwaukee Mile has hosted every kind of race over the years, including horses. IndyCar was the most popular attraction, which continued up until 2015.
This photo essay features images taken in 1993, in the waning heyday of the motorsport but while robust crowds still filled the grandstands. Also included is a collection from an IndyCar race in 2008, and the 2019 ARCA series with the Harry Miller Racing Club and Vintage Indy Cars. In lieu of actual actual races, or even a video game style iRace, these photos may be the only look at a Milwaukee Mile competition that the public gets this year.