Families can enjoy a day at the races at the Chicagoland Speedway

If your child spends his or her day zooming cars around the floor, it might be time to take them to see the real thing at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet. The Speedway and the nearby Route 66 Raceway have NASCAR races and drag racing events filled with activities for kids.

“Beyond the actual action taking place on the track, there’s so much more to do,” says Nicole Mancuso Meagher, director of communications for the race tracks. “We have Champions Park with live music on a music stage, paved walkways, display areas, interactive games and free games.”

The park includes a Kids Zone with story times led by NASCAR drivers, craft activities, bouncy houses and Radio Disney. The activities are free with admission (only $5 for kids for some of the races), and so is parking for most of the events.

If you have a diehard racing fan, pay a little extra and buy a fan zone pit pass, which allows visitors to get down in the center of the track (before the races begin).

“Fans can see race cars and haulers up close. They can see the drivers walking the red carpet,” Meagher says. “For Sunday’s race day in September, fans with a pit pass can attend a pre-race concert. Two years ago it was Luke Bryan. This gets you down right in front of the stage.”

Meagher says the races are loud, but fun for any age. “The noise adds to the excitement. There are a lot of families attending with younger kids; they bring ear muffs to help with the noise,” she says. “It’s an experience to be had.”

It’s cheaper to buy tickets before going to the track, since the cost increases on the day of the event. Also, kids’ tickets are $25 less than adult tickets for all races.

The NASCAR events are held July 19 and Sept. 12-14 at the Chicagoland Speedway. Camping and tailgating are allowed, and parking is free for these events. To buy tickets, visit ChicagolandSpeedway.com or call (888) 629-RACE.

The drag racing event is June 26-29, with Friday and Saturday nights as qualifying rounds and the championship race on Sunday. Camping is allowed for this event and each ticket includes a pit pass. For information or to buy tickets, visit Route66Raceway.com.

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