Famed Milwaukee Mile Topic of Oct. 18 Talk at Racing Research Center
The Milwaukee Mile, the oldest continuously operating auto-racing facility in the world, will be the focus of the Oct. 18 Center Conversations at the International Motor Racing Research Center.
Milwaukee Mile expert Steve Zautke will speak at 1 p.m. at the Center at 610 S. Decatur St., Watkins Glen, N.Y. The talk is free, and all are welcome.
Zautke also will speak about Road America. He recently partnered with Arcadia Publishing on a pictorial history of the challenging four-mile road course in Elkhart Lake, Wis.
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The Milwaukee Mile, located in West Allis, Wis., is a one-mile oval, originally built as a privately owned horse-racing track. Records show it has been in existence since at least 1876. In 1891, the Agricultural Society of the State of Wisconsin purchased the land to create a permanent site for the Wisconsin State Fair, and the track has operated as part of the fairgrounds since.
Starting in 1903, the track has hosted at least one auto race every year, with the exception of the World War I and II years.
“During that time, the track has seen nearly every type of motorsports competition, from turn-of-the-century ‘speed contests’ and 24-hour endurance races to Depression- and WWII-era open-wheel car duels, USAC stock car events, midget racing, and now CART and NASCAR competition. The roster of past winners at The Milwaukee Mile is a veritable ‘who’s who’ of racing history, including names like Barney Oldfield, Rex Mays, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Mario Andretti,” according to the website Savethemile.org.
Zautke, a Milwaukee native, was raised in the sport of auto racing. His father, Bill, was a movie photographer who shot racing footage at the Milwaukee Mile and other tracks in the 1960s and 1970s. Zautke’s first professional job in racing was as an emergency medical technician at race tracks.
For 18 years, from 1993-2011, Zautke worked as a videographer, in media relations and as historian for the Milwaukee Mile. He also has worked as a reporter for several national motorsports magazines and the Harry Miller Club newsletter.
He co-hosts “Sparky’s Final Inspection,” a motorsports-based radio show on a Milwaukee radio station. He is a member of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame Induction Committee.
The next Center Conversations will be Nov. 8 featuring Michael Martin on the United States Road Racing Championship race series of the 1960s.
The Racing Research Center is an archival library dedicated to the preservation and sharing of the history of motorsports, of all series and all venues, through its collections of books, periodicals, films, photographs, fine art and other materials.
For more information about the Center’s work and its programs, visit www.racingarchives.org or call (607) 535-9044. The Center can be found on Facebook at “International Motor Racing Research Center.”