SCHERERVILLE — Illiana Motor Speedway, an iconic piece of Calumet Region history, will soon belong to the town of Schererville.
In a special meeting of the Town Council on Wednesday, the four council members present voted unanimously to buy the 51-acre Illiana Speedway site from owner Mike Mikuly for $1.67 million. Closing on the sale will be on or before Thursday.
The speedway’s location adjacent to the 41-acre Rohrman Park will be an asset to the community, said Town Manager Robert Volkmann.
Rohrman Park is the town’s largest park that includes a playground, five soccer fields, three lighted softball fields, one lighted baseball field, a large parking area and one mile of paved trail. The Pennsy Greenway Trail is across the street.
Town Councilman Rob Guetzloff said the frontage along U.S. 30 will be sold while the bulk of the acreage will be green space.
“Green space is always good,” he said.
A temporary loan from the town’s North Kennedy Avenue tax increment financing district is funding that purchase until a bank loan can be secured. In an emergency meeting immediately following the special Town Council meeting, the Schererville Redevelopment Commission approved that loan.
Town Council members, who are also redevelopment commissioners, present for the meetings were Kevin Connelly, Guetzloff, Jerry Tippy and Michael Troxell. Thomas Schmitt was absent. Troxell serves as Town Council president while Guetzloff is Redevelopment Commission president.
Clerk-Treasurer Janice Malinowski said the North Kennedy Avenue TIF fund currently contains more than $10 million. A bank loan to repay the TIF fund will be secured by Dec. 31.
Town Attorney David Austgen said all the paperwork for the uniform acquisition offer was in order and the sale would go through barring any last-minute problems.
The approval to accept the offer authorized Austgen, Volkmann and Malinowski to complete all closing transactions.
Mikuly, who purchased the track in the spring of 1999 from founder/owner Harry Molenaar, will have access to the property for 60 days after the closing.
Located at 7211 U.S. 30, the Illiana Motor Speedway first hosted motorcycle racing, then stock car racing on the half-mile dirt oval track in 1948.
Major improvements to the track occurred during Mikuly’s ownership. Those included the half-mile oval track and a quarter-mile interior track being repaved, new grandstands that could accommodate 7,000 fans, lighting, concrete walls to replace the old guardrails and safety fencing.
Illiana Motor Speedway gained national attention with several televised races.
In 2000, Mikuly introduced the Turbo Stox division on the one-quarter mile track. The following year marked the final season for the Street Stock division at Illiana.
For the 2003 season, Mikuly added a Limited Late Model division to the speedway and in 2004 added a 4-cylinder Pure Stocks division. Another addition in 2007 brought the Legend cars to the weekly program.
Earlier this spring, Mikuly announced the end of an era on the Illiana Motor Speedway website, informing drivers, crews, fans and sponsors that the 2016 stock car season would not occur. He said dwindling entries, small crowds, bad weather and overall operating expenses played a role in that decision.
“It is with a heavy heart that we make this announcement, Illiana Speedway will not be opening for the 2016 season," Mikuly wrote.
"The sale listing has ended but the property is not sold, it is still for sale. We do have some interested parties looking at the facility in hopes it will reopen as a racetrack,” he wrote in that post. ”If we hear any news, we will post it on our website.”
Any plans to reopen Illiana Motor Speedway as a racetrack ended Wednesday evening.