Kart racing, music, fun will drive 28th Rock Island Grand Prix

The 28th running of the world’s largest karting street race –  the Xtream Rock Island Grand Prix – will hit the starting line with karts from 20 racing classes beginning Saturday, Sept. 2.

Admission is free to this family-oriented event and racing is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day with morning practice and afternoon qualifying heat races on Saturday. They will be followed by practice, opening ceremonies and 20 featured races on Sunday, Sept 3.

Spectators and motorists should be alert for road closures throughout downtown Rock Island.

The race, which was founded in 1994, made its post-COVID-19 return last year.

Now in 2023, joining the historic King of the Streets open-shifter race – one of the most iconic races in karting – will be King of the Rock races for 100cc engines and for the Briggs & Stratton 206cc engine. Vintage karts from prior to 1985 are featured again this year.

“The popularity of racing through the streets is exploding,” said Roger Ruthhart, head of the Grand Prix organizing committee.

“IndyCar features a half-dozen street races a year, NASCAR just added its first street race in Chicago and Formula 1, after adding a race in Miami, is adding a second street race in Las Vegas this fall,” he said. “But those of us in the Quad-Cities have enjoyed street racing since 1994.” 

Mr. Ruthhart added: “While single tickets were $300 or more in Chicago and will top $500 in Vegas, the exciting racing in Rock Island has free general admission and many other things going on to keep your friends and family entertained, thanks to the support of our many local and national sponsors.”

Race organizers cited a study by Datafy, conducted for Visit Quad-Cities, that showed as many as 14,000 spectators from a variety of states and municipal areas have attended the event in past years. 

Organizers say there also are plenty of distractions to entertain kart racing fans and nonfans alike. They include the announcing team of Jay Kidwell, sports director at WHBF-TV, and long-time racer Carter Pease. 

Each year the duo brings excitement, information and energy to the race as track announcers and the entire downtown is wired for sound. Racing will also be webcast on ekartingnews.com and a wealth of information is available for fans through the Rock Island Grand Prix online Event Guide.

Fans and racers also will notice some changes in the track and spectator areas this year which were required by the race insurance underwriters. They include strict enforcement of “No Spectator Areas.” 

In addition to racing, Rock Island Grand Prix off-track attractions for 2023 include:

  • Concert Kickoff – Music begins on Thursday, Aug. 31, with the Funktastic 5 from 7-9 p.m. during Gas & Electric Credit Union Night at Schwiebert Riverfront Park on the banks of the Mississippi River. It is part of the Thursday Night Groove Concert Series. There is no admission charge.
  • Escape to Circa: Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse is featuring “Escape To Margaritaville,” a musical comedy, on Friday and Saturday evening and a Sunday matinee. Find more information at circa21.com.
  • Bring on the Divas: On Friday, Sept. 1, The Speakeasy, next to Circa ’21, will host “Viva La Divas,” the premier drag show in the Quad-Cities. It’s hosted by comedian Pubali Kundu. For more information visit thecirca21speakeasy.com.
  • Rozz-Tox Anyone: A busy weekend is planned at Rozz-Tox, the bar, café and performance venue located just east of the track at 2108 Third Ave. On Friday, it will host Ak’ Chamel featuring low-key temple music and Chachka, an experimental sound project. Show starts at 8 p.m. On Saturday, Sept. 2, the Vinyl Deejay series featuring Obscurious and Indie, UK pop, electronic and placid jazz. It’s free for all ages, 8 p.m. to midnight. 
  • Car cruisers welcome: From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, the Grand Prix will host a Cruise-In on 18th Street with hourly prizes to be given away. Cruise-In cars should enter from First Avenue and must feature cruise-in type vehicles.
  • Shot and a goal: Again this year, the Quad City Storm professional hockey team will welcome fans to Shoot The Puck street hockey fun in the center of the course and also invite them to learn more about the team, its schedule and ticket information and meet Radar, the team mascot.
  • Vendor hours: During both days there will be Miller Beer stands both in the infield and on 18th Street and Third Avenue run by the Smoking Dog. Other food and drink vendors will be available, coordinated by Bayside Grille in Rock Island.

Other things to watch this weekend:

  • 61 Kartway, the local kart track in Delmar, Iowa, will have a booth where you can see racing karts up close, get your questions answered about kart racing and learn about how both adults and kids can get involved in kart racing locally.
  • Bradley University Society of Automotive Engineers will have their race cars on display all weekend in front of WHBF-TV on 18th Street and will be happy to talk about their program and careers in motorsports for men and women.
  • Final day opening ceremonies are at 10:30 a.m. Sunday and also will feature Radar the Quad City Storm mascot as well as other attractions. The Vietnam Veterans honor guard will lead the Parade of Champions, and the National Anthem will be sung by Jill King.  Local dignitaries will offer welcoming remarks.

Racing action will be broadcast live on ekartingnews.com

Organizers said many important new sponsors have also joined the event this year. Sponsors include: National Karting Alliance, Mediacom, Briggs & Stratton Racing, Bally’s Quad-Cities Casino & Hotel, Hoosier Kartsport, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Modern Woodmen Financial/ Joe Schurr agent, Miller/Coors and Euclid Distributing, Group O, Factory Kart East/Simpson-Bjerke Racing, Baker Street Creations, Moon Print Shop, Illinois Casualty Co., Eagle Construction, 

Shaw Electric, Halligan McCabe DeVries Funeral Home, Hiland Toyota, Lincoln Electric, RLV Tuned Exhaust, CBS TV4 / Fox 18 and CW, the local iHeart Radio stations (Big 106.5, Fox Sports QC, WOC and WLLR), Q Sports Net, Schurr Power Racing Engines and Tyler Schurr Racing, Sunbelt Rentals, Johannes Bus Service, Holiday Inn Rock Island, eKartingNews.com, Courtesy Car City, Gas & Electric Credit Union, Rogan Scale, Triple E Sales, Duncalf Racing, Fastenal, 4 Cities Cornhole Club, Hughes Tire, RIGP Corner Workers and 61 Kartway.

For more information on the race, visit racerockisland.info or Facebook or Instagram pages.

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