Peoria TT, Peoria, Illinois

It could be argued that for race fans, any race is a good getaway. I know people that schedule their vacation time around a particular race that they travel to each year. The Peoria TT is one of those classic races that has been around for over half a century at the same location. Just as the Isle Of Man epitomizes the roots of road racing, the Peoria TT epitomizes American-style dirt track racing.

The Peoria TT is unique among races on the Grand National circuit in that the oval it is run on includes a high-speed jump and a right turn. The premier class races these days are run using 600cc singles equipped with a front brake. The race location is the grounds of the Peoria Motorcycle Club. The track is a natural terrain affair nestled in a wooded valley with a small stream running through it. The track features two bridges over the stream. The surrounding valley sides form a natural amphitheatre, with the 10,000 or so spectators either sitting or standing in the grass. The track’s lack of grandstands has led to the race being dropped from the Grand National circuit a couple of times over the years, but the club has soldiered on and refused to destroy the downhome charm of the race by ripping up the landscape to build stands.

Peoria — a city of around 120,000 and home of Caterpillar, Inc. — is in the centre of Illinois, south-west of Chicago and north of Springfield. Getting there for the TT involves riding for hours through cornfields in the blazing August heat. If you are approaching from the east, I would strongly recommend a route such as 24 that gives the congested Gary-East Chicago area at the southern tip of Lake Michigan a wide berth.

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