Blackhawk Farms Raceway is a 1.95-mile road course located near South Beloit in northern Illinois. Club, professional, and spectator events are held at Blackhawk; the track is in use nearly every weekend from May through October; in addition to SCCA and Midwestern Council sports car races, other automobiles, karts, and motorcycles are raced here, and vintage, solo, and marque club events are also frequently scheduled.
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Last Updated: 2005-04-10
Blackhawk Farms Raceway was designed and built by Tito Nappi, a Corvette driver and local contractor, with the first race held in 1967. Blackhawk was a non-spectator Club course for many years, with excellent and locally-renowned competitor facilities, and has always been popular because of its location about a hundred miles from both the Chicago and Milwaukee hotbeds of sports-car racing. The Irwin brothers purchased Blackhawk Farms in 1986; they have made a minor change to the track layout and have upgraded the competitor facilities even further, and have added spectator facilities. Professional and spectator events are now held at Blackhawk.
As the population of the Beloit/South Beloit/Rockton area has increased over time, there have been more homes and churches built in the surrounding area which was very thinly populated when the track was new. This has presented Blackhawk with increasing noise problems; the track management is aggressively pursuing substantially reduced noise limits to remain on friendly terms with its neighbors.
Blackhawk Farms Raceway
15538 Prairie Road
South Beloit, IL 61080
PO Box 347
Rockton, IL 61072
This map was adapted from a recent survey of the property and should be accurate.
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The track is in north central Illinois, near the Wisconsin state line, about eight miles west of Exit 1 from I-90. Take Route 75 westbound from Exit 1 about 2 miles to the traffic light at Route 251. From this intersection, there are three alternate routes to the track:
Turn left onto Route 251, proceed south about 1.5 miles and turn right onto Prairie Hill Road. Continue west about 5 miles until the road ends at a T (dangerous intersection). Turn left, then right after about 1/4 mile onto Yale Bridge Road. Continue west about 1.5 miles to a four-way stop intersection and turn right onto Prairie Road. Continue north about 8/10 mile to the sign on the left reading 'Blackhawk Farms Raceway'.
Continue west on Route 75 for about a mile until the road ends at a traffic light and a T and turn left onto Blackhawk Boulevard (following Route 75). Continue southwest about 1.8 miles to the traffic light at the intersection with Prairie Hill Road and turn right. Continue west until the road ends at a T (dangerous intersection). Turn left, then right after about 1/4 mile onto Yale Bridge Road. Continue west about 1.5 miles to a four-way stop intersection and turn right onto Prairie Road. Continue north about 8/10 mile to the sign on the left reading 'Blackhawk Farms Raceway'.
Continue west on Route 75 for about a mile until the road ends at a traffic light and a T and turn right onto Blackhawk Boulevard. Continue north about a quarter mile to the traffic light and turn left onto Shirland Avenue. Continue west about two miles to Fischer Road (just past a 1940s-vintage row housing project), and turn left. Proceed south, around a sweeping right-hand curve, then west about two miles until the road ends at a T and turn left onto Prairie Road. Continue south about half a mile to the sign on the right reading 'Blackhawk Farms Raceway'.
Registration is at the larger building at the fence line; park off either side of the road, leaving at least one full lane clear.
After leaving Registration, continue straight on west through the gate. You must cross the track to enter and leave the paddock; if the track gate is closed, form a single lane while waiting for it to open.
Essentially the entire area inside the track is used as paddock. The most popular areas are on both sides of the access road along the front straight, under the trees near turns 4 and 5 and east towards turn 3, and near turn 1. These areas are sufficient to accomodate up to about two hundred competitors; when entries exceed that number the flat unshaded area along the access road west of Turn 6 is used. Tech and scales are in a shed located near Turn 5 east of the garages, there is a paved lane just south of the tire concession building leading through the Tech shed. The medical facility is on the north side of the food concession building.
The track facilities for competitors at Blackhawk are exceptional. There are flush toilets, running water, and coin-operated hot (usually) showers. CAM-2 leaded (108 AON) gasoline is available at the east end of the food concession building; as are oil, photographic film, souvenirs, and a limited range of racing and general automotive parts at prices generally only slightly higher than outside. Goodyear, Hoosier, and Yokohama racing tires are sold at the tire concession building, and air is available there. A coin-operated pressure washer is located on the north end of the toilet building. Ice is available at the food concession. A covered pavilion with picnic tables is located just northwest of the food concession building, it includes an arcade with game machines. Garages are available for rent for $50 per day, and the track is available to competition license holders for testing on the Friday before most events for $200 (includes medical and fire safety equipment and limited corner staffing).
The track owners have established morning and evening quiet hours. These will both be closely enforced.
Blackhawk is 1.95 miles around, and has 9 flag stations and 13 or 14 turns (depending on how fast you are going). CSR cars using four gears of a 5-speed gearbox reach speeds near 135 MPH two places on the course and take the slowest turn around 60 MPH. The track surface is mostly smooth, but has patches and ripples in the slower corners. Blackhawk was built on land that was partly wooded, and there are several places where large, solid trees seem awfully close to the track surface. In general, the trees which were actually dangerously close have been removed, but every few years there's a tree-related incident. The high-speed area through Turn 2 still looks dicey, tree-wise, but if you have time to look at the trees through here you're probably going slowly enough that they won't be a problem. There are curbs, rumble strips, and dropoffs at the track edge through most of the corners, and the ground off the track edge is rough and rutted most everywhere else. Staying on the track surface is recommended, especially if you have a low ground-clearance car -- if you must pull off, try to do it on the inside between turns 2 and 4 or between turns 6 and 7.
Special note Blackhawk is harder on brakes than any other track I know; do not start an event there with badly worn pads or shoes unless you have spares and are prepared to install them.
The false grid for all sessions is southbound on the pavement along the front straight; south of the silo you make a moderately-tight U-turn out into the pit lane or a less-tight one onto the track surface. If you enter the track from the pit lane, be sure to stay to the right of the white line for its entire length (a closely-enforced local ground rule). The pit lane exit to the paddock is at the north end of the pit lane; entry to the paddock for disabled cars can also be gained from the emergency-vehicle lane between Turns 4 and 5, or the entry road just after Turn 6. Impound is at the Tech building.
What follows is a generic description of the track, describing its features without defining speeds, gears, or shift points -- all of which will vary widely from car type to car type.
Most of the turns at Blackhawk are sufficiently well separated by straight segments that they may be treated as isolated turns. There is only one set of clustered turns (where your line through or out of a turn must be modified to accomodate the requirements of the next turn or the one after it), from Turn 2 thrugh Turn 3A.
The starter's stand is far enough down the front straight to be visible from the back of most grids. The front straight is smooth and flat right up to the entrance of Turn 1. Turn 1 has been repaved enough times over the years that small bumps can be felt at the entry in some cars; if you can feel them, they may be useful as turnin markers (also true in Turn 6). There's a lot of overtaking under braking coming into Turn 1. Turn 1 is a fairly high-speed flat 90-degree right-hand turn which is often taken too fast. The pavement at the exit is broken up and bumpy, and the ground on the outside of the turn is quite rough and covered with brush and young trees. You have to take Turn 1 fast, but staying just a bit to the right at the exit might be prudent until you get the exit properly scoped out.
There's a short straight leading into Turn 2, quite long enough to allow you to get back over to the right edge comfortably. The turnin point for 2 is obvious, it's where many cars clip the grass on the outside. Turn 2 is a high-speed left-hand kink, about 30 degrees. Some cars can go flat out from the exit of Turn 1 through Turn 2, but some will have to lift entering Turn 2 to assure a proper track position at the exit. Depending on your car, your speed out of Turn 2, and the line you find works best in Turn 3, you will probably want to be somewhere on the left half of the track surface when you begin braking into 3; this will allow you to take Turn 3 with a single very late apex. If your car ends up on the right half of the track at the exit to Turn 2, you may need to treat Turn 3 as a dual-apex corner, with one early and one very late apex.
Turn 3 is a fast 210-degree right-hand non-constant-radius sweeper. There are several useful lines through 3, and some experimentation will be needed to find the right combination of entry speed, track position at the entry, and line through the corner for your car. The only really critical point is the exit, where you must be at the right edge of the track and treat this 'apex' as the turnin point for the first part of Turn 3A.
Turn 3A is a three-turn chicane to the left. Turn 3A(1) is a 30-degree left-hand kink with a short straight segment at the exit; successful braking for Turn 3A(2) may reguire that you modify your track position at the exit of Turn 3 to allow you to get back to the left edge of the track for this braking. Turn 3A(2) is just a classic plain old slow 90-degree right turn. If you make a late enough apex in 3A(2) your exit clipping point may also be used as an apex for Turn 3A(3), the 45-degree kink back to the left. You should be under power (maybe not full power) all the way from the apex of 3A(2) to the exit of 3A(3), where you will then be properly located for braking into Turn 4.
If you've taken Turn 3A at all properly, you will have to brake entering Turn 4, a moderately slow flat left-hand 85-degree turn. For some reason, many cars go off course in this corner, both inside and outside -- but it's not a particularly pleasant place to leave the track since there are trees to the inside and a tire barrier to the outside, The track surface at the exit is bumpy and the ground outside it is deeply rutted, it's best to avoid the extreme right edge of the track at the exit if you can (especially if you have a low ground-clearance car). There's a very short straight leading into Turn 5, a partially-blind high-speed slightly-banked slightly downhill left-hand 90-degree turn. If you have a very fast car you might have to lift slightly entering Turn 5; otherwise you should be under power continuously from the apex of Turn 4 all the way to the braking area for Turn 6. There is a significant bump in the middle of Turn 5.
The straight following Turn 5 is long enough for you easily to get back to the left edge of the track in preparation for Turn 6, which is actually two turns. Turn 6(1) is a moderately-slow flat 90-degree right-hand turn followed by a very short straight (the track entrance road crosses this short straight bit). A lot of passes are attempted coming into Turn 6, and many cars end up off on the exit of Turn 6(1); you should try to avoid doing so since the ground off the track edge is very rough in this vicinity. The pavement has a pronounced dip right at the left edge of the track at the exit of Turn 6(1). Turn 6(2) is a fast flat 60-degree right-hand kink, with the track widened at the exit, generally taken flat out because you're not yet back up to speed out of Turn 6(1). There is a deep rut on the inside of Turn 6(2), if you drop a wheel off into it you run a good chance of bending a wheel. The sound level monitoring station is on the outside of the track at the exit of Turn 6(2).
A long straight follows, leading into Turn 7; this straight stretch will develop puddles during rainstorms, and these puddles can cause even rain tires to lose traction. There is a very fast 30-degree right-hand kink just before Turn 7, if your brakes are working properly you can delay braking for Turn 7 until you are through the kink. Most cars can take the kink flat out, but you should work up to it your first time at the track. Passing in the kink is particularly dangerous unless all parties involved are aware of each other and willing to participate in the pass, but passing under braking into Turn 7 is both safer and common. There are two widely-used lines from the kink into 7, depending on how fast you are going, with in-between variations. The very fastest cars are pretty much forced to treat the kink as a 'real' turn, sweeping to the left edge of the track and straightening out before braking; other cars may be able to drive more-or-less straight from the apex of the kink toward their turnin point for 7 and brake along this path. Turn 7 is a moderately slow flat right-hand turn of 90 degrees (or slightly more if you've come in under braking straight from the apex of the kink). The track at the exit is wider than at the entrance, and the track surface has been further widened at the exit. Since this is a popular place to pass under late braking, a lot of cars go off on the outside and the runoff area is very rough and rutted.
There is a significant bump in the front straight as you go over the culvert near the big trees. The pit entrance is to the right, just after the bump. Impound is at the Tech shed.
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