World Wide Technology Raceway Owner / CEO Curtis Francois Realizes 25-Year Dream at NASCAR Cup in Madison, Illinois

MADISON – Enjoy Illinois 300, the first NASCAR Cup series to ever compete in the World Wide Technology Raceway, is already underway.

“Everything’s alright; it really comes together, ”said Curtis Francois, track owner and CEO.

“We’ve been working really hard since September to reach June 5,” he said. “Right now, we’re really focusing on completing all the improvements and starting to implement the operations plan.

“It’s great to see this whole community gather around this event,” he said. “There are a lot of great people working here who are working to ensure that we are well represented in the region on race day.

Francois said securing the cup race has been a decade since he acquired the track in 2012. But the dreams of high-end NASCAR racing on the track are much older, and they go back to the beginning when they were a supporter of open-wheel racing. Chris Pook started building in the mid-1990s.

“That dream started 25 years ago, and the big one has finally come,” Francois said. “We appreciated the patience and support of the racing fans over the years. Everyone pulled behind the rope to make it happen.

He said it required “a lot of work”. From the start of the track as a Gateway International Raceway, securing the NASCAR Cup (then the Winston Cup) has been seen as the key to its long-term survival.

There have been many NASCAR races on the track, including what is now the Infinity Cup Series and the Camping World Truck Series. But the NASCAR Cup series is “the pinnacle of the race,” Francois said.

“The best way to describe it would be like a farm with baseball,” he said of the Infinity and Craftsman Truck series. “It’s a minor league that gives talent the experience to rise.

“When you’re trying to understand NASCAR, it’s important for fans to understand that it’s the biggest thing,” he said, adding that it’s similar to the NHL winter classic or the All-Star game.

“It’s very similar in that it is happening and has a big economic impact,” he said.

An economic impact study by the University of Maryville has estimated that one NASCAR Cup race in the WWTR will have 60 million. USD economic impact on the St. Louis region.

“That’s the impact of this particular event,” Francois said of the Enjoy Illinois 300. “It’s really the holy grail of racing in North America. As a result, we are seeing companies that now understand the size, impact, and reach of the NASCAR brand jump to it.

Locally, this includes Enterprise, Ameren, Edward Jones, World Wide Technology and Stifel.

“It will and will look like a major event,” Francois said. “NASCAR presents a huge audience. There are about 500,000 NASCAR fans in this region alone. But since you’re bringing something new to the area, it will take some time for people to understand what that means.”

He noted that NASCAR fans are known for their loyalty – each race was watched by 3 to 4 million spectators.

“It’s a huge number,” he said. “It simply came to our notice then.

Francois said on June 5th. racing can have a big impact even for 60 million.

“Metro East is such a great opportunity to change,” he said. “It can’t do anything but help, and we’re already involved in local communities with several programs.

He noted that WWTR Midway’s Jackie Joyner Kersee Foundation and World Wide Technology will present “very cool” STEM and interactive screens.

NASCAR events, he noted, are much more than racing.

“Over the years, NASCAR Cup racing events have evolved into a festival-type atmosphere,” Francois said. “The race is the main attraction. But there are a lot of support activities. ”

According to Francois, the Enjoy Illinois 300’s activities include “six national tours, 30 bands and five scenes.”

“There’s so much going on after the race to make it a memorable event,” Francois said. Four days of music are planned at the Confluence: Crossroads of Concert & Community Festival. The list of scheduled artists is displayed on

He also said that WWTR “transforms” the object.

“It looks like a small town on race day,” he said. “We look forward to selling it out.

Francois said the front of the main rostrum immediately seats about 40,000 people. 1st and 2nd turn stands can accommodate another 17 thousand. The estimated audience does not include the apartment and the indoor area.

The three-day event will cover June 4th. NASCAR Camping World is a race that has already surpassed sales for the biggest event ever on the track.

June 5 will be held at Enjoy Illinois 300.

“It’s going to be a great party,” he said. “There will be a concert after that.”

June 3 NASCAR racing legend Richard Petty will arrive in Madison and ride the first solemn WWTR laps in one of his former race cars.

“This will be the first time there will be a cup car on the race track,” Francois said. “This is how all the festivities on the race track begin.

Other events include a “carrier parade” from St. Louis to WWTR on Thursday and a long list of other events in the region, increasing the overall economic benefits of the event.

“It’s really important that everyone wins,” Francois said. “We usually sell out all Metro East hotels during a big race.

“It’s an engine that really drives development,” he added. “If you look at the success of the Kansas City Speedway, it was farm fields. It is now the epicenter of $ 7 billion in entertainment.

“Herein lies the real story,” he added. “If we do it and do it well, Madison, Fairmont, Collinsville and East St. Louis will have a chance to improve during this race.

He said Enjoy Illinois 300 hosting gives WWTR the best in NASCAR, Indycar and NHRA series.

“You’re packing them together with more than 320 events that we hold every year,” he said, “it’s actually the result of 10 years of building that infrastructure.

Godfrey Kemp

"Bacon fanatic. Social media enthusiast. Music practitioner. Internet scholar. Incurable travel advocate. Wannabe web junkie. Coffeeaholic. Alcohol fanatic."

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