Illiana Motor Speedway Sold
By Stan Kalwasinski
June 23, 2016
''Big cars'' racing at the Schererville oval in 1950. (Stan
Schererville, Ind.-Part of the area's automobile racing
landscape since after World War II, Illiana Motor Speedway has
apparently hosted its last racing event as the property has been
sold to the Town of Schererville.
Northwest Indiana's The Times newspaper reported Thursday that
Illiana owner Mike Mikuly sold the 50-plus acre site to the Town
of Schererville for a reported $1.67 million with the closing of
the sale coming on or before June 30. A
special Town Council meeting was held Wednesday evening to
complete the deal. The
story said that Mikuly would have access to the property for 60
days after the sale.
The speedway property is adjacent to the town's 41-acre Rohrman
Park with additional green space to be added from the Illiana
A former racer himself at the speedway, Mikuly purchased the
raceway from founder/owner Harry Molenaar in the spring of 1999. Elderly
and in failing health, Molenaar passed away in October of 1999.
A Harley Davidson motorcycle dealer in Hammond, Molenaar
acquired the then wooded property in 1943. After a lot of work
by Molenaar and volunteers, which included numerous friends and
customers from his motorcycle business, Molenaar presented the
first motorcycles races at his speedway in 1945 with the first
stock car race held in 1948.
The original oval was a big half-mile dirt track with a number
of other sized tracks being in use at one time or another. The
half-mile was paved before the 1962 racing season began. Weekly
late model stock car racing became the prime attraction there in
Under Mikuly's ownership, the speedway went through a major
rebuilding phase during the winter of 1999 and 2000. The
half-mile track was repaved with a smaller quarter-mile paved
track laid out. New
retaining walls and safety fencing were also added with a
state-of-the-art lightning system also part of the renovation. New
grandstands came about in 2008.
A freshened-up Illiana seemed to enjoy a number of good years
with a variety of racing events, both stock car and open-wheel
racing, being held. Recent
years seemed stagnant at Illiana with crowds and cars counts
down for one reason or another.
In May of this year, Mikuly announced through the speedway's
website that Illiana would not be opening in 2016, citing poor
weather, decreasing attendance and car counts, along with poor
social media reviews as the culprits. Various
rumors and stories swirled around about the speedway's future,
including stock car racer Boris Jurkovic buying it. Wednesday's
Town Council meeting and the imminent sale of the speed plant
seem to have become the final chapter of Illiana Motor Speedway.
Paul Goldsmith poses with his trophy after winning an American
Motorcycle Association ''national'' event
at Illiana Motor Speedway in 1955. Speedway owner Harry Molenaar is on
(Stan Kalwasinski Collection)
Two top late model drivers - Eddie Hoffman (8) and Jeff Cannon
go wheel to wheel at Illiana in 2014.
(Photo by Stan Kalwasinski)