We had been asked additional questions (one in particular) about indoor drag racing, so here’s an update of more information about the why’s and wherefore’s of indoor drag racing back in 1962 (I actually can remember back that far as I went to the Seattle Fair – I was a tike).
Winter indoor drag racing in Chicago was located in the International Amphitheatre adjacent the stockyards at 42nd and Halstead in Chicago. It was built in 1934 mainly to handle large crowds for operas and political gatherings. It cost $1.5 million and was built for Frederick Henry Prince, owner of Union Stockyard Transit Co. At different times over the years it housed political conventions, anti- war demonstrations, headline singing groups, wrestling, pro basketball, car shows, an 1/8 mile midget auto race track and in 1962 the drag strip was developed. The strip was 440 ft. long (1/3 of a standard quarter mile strip). The lanes were 60 ft wide on each side and 600 feet of shut down area.
During the 1980s, newer convention centers began to be built including McCormick Place and attendance at events began to wane. The building was huge, the noise was deafening and although it was originally built with air conditioning, it was 1934 vintage and was inadequate to handle the tire smoke and exhaust fumes from drag racing. The indoor strip only existed off and on during the 1962-1963 winter seasons. In 1983 it was sold to a real estate investor for $250,000. Unable to generate enough income to maintain the site it was then sold to the City of Chicago. In a deal between the City and Aramark Uniform Services Co, in August 1999 the structure was demolished and a new building built for Aramark.
The reason we have not seen another indoor drag strip since then, is that environmental laws and regulations are so much stricter today and the expense would probably be unbearable. As unique and exciting as it was at the time, it is doubtful we will ever see another indoor drag strip. And as we pointed out earlier, the sound was deafening – and that’s back before we really learned how to make cars fast; and much louder.