CIRCUITS: PORTLAND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
Name: Portland International Raceway
The city of Vanport was built during World War II to house thousands of workers at the Portland shipyards. It was built in a year and for a time was the second largest city in Oregon. But "The Miracle City" did not survive long. In May 1948 floodwaters breached a dyke around the site and a wall of water destroyed everything in its path. The land was retained until 1960 when the Army Corps of Engineers sold it to the City of Portland. It was decided that the abandoned roads could be used as a race track and the organizers of the annual Rose Festival were convinced to sponsor a race. In 1961 the first Rose Cup race was held on the West Delta Park track, beginning a tradition that continues to this day. The track developed quickly with car racing, motorcycles, drag racers and karting all using the facility. The old tarmac was not in good shape, however, and when the Rose Cup races were threatened the Rose Festival Association negotiated a loan from the city on the understanding that the money would be paid back from revenues generated by the event. This resulted in the racing circuit being turned into a business with income being generated from ticket sales, track rental, trackside advertising and the sale of concessions.
The loan was quickly repaid and with a steady income better events were attracted with TransAm making its first appearance in the mid-1970s and IMSA arriving in 1978. Indycars arrived in 1984 with the inaugural Budweiser/GI Joe's 200 being won by Al Unser Jr.
The city continued to own the circuit but is self-supporting and its activities generate considerable income for the local communities.
Although built on flat land, the circuit offers good spectating opportunities and on a clear day one can see Mt St. Helens to the north and Mt Hood to the east. The CART race is popular with the racers as it gives them the opportunity to enjoy the scenic Oregon River region.