What Does the Future Hold for Rock Island Grand Prix?

Labor Day weekend event to celebrate 25th edition in 2019

Not many events in the sport of karting maintain their status long enough to hit the 25-year mark. The Rock Island Grand Prix is one of those races. The Quad Cities area of Illinois and Iowa will play host the 25th edition of this iconic event on August 31 – September 1, 2019. The Labor Day weekend classic brings together racers from all over North America and a few countries from around the world to the banks of the Mississippi River each year to push the limits on their deceptively straight-forward 6/10-mile, six-turn street course. As always, racers show up in droves to chase one of the coveted ‘Rock’ trophies available only to those who are the first to reach the checkered flag. The inaugural RIGP was held in 1994 and after a three-year run, 1997 was the only year that the event was not conducted. The extended period in which the Rock Island Grand Prix has been run displays perfectly its ability to evolve with the industry. At first, the event was very grassroots-based and as it gained notoriety, big teams and headline drivers stormed into the event. The return of more grassroots racers and categories has fueled growth over the last few years, as the race reached the 300-mark in entries in 2017.

EKN’s David Cole OnTrack with TB Kart Indy at the 2018 Rock Island Grand Prix (Photo: Christian Marsh)

In an era where volunteerism is in a decline for motorsports, the RIGP has continued to chug along with an incredible crew. One fact that is often overlooked by the majority of the sport is that each Rock Island GP event is made viable through the hard work, effort and passion of a core group of people who spend hundreds of hours preparing and conducting the two-day street race. They construct a temporary circuit and festival in the matter of 10 hours from Friday evening to Saturday morning, put on two days of racing, and return the area back into normal city streets overnight on Sunday evening. It’s no easy task. It takes months of planning and, of course, money to even get the event rolling before karts hit the track on Saturday morning.

It is no secret that we here at eKartingNews.com love street racing, and we love the Rock Island Grand Prix. It’s a special part of our sport and its history here in the United States. While there are other street races around the country, nothing matches the nostalgia and the feeling of walking over to 4th Avenue on Friday of the event, seeing the track build begin and the line of haulers rolling down the street to enter the make-shift paddock.

The Rock Island Grand Prix is getting a jump-start on the celebration for the 25th edition of the event. In a recent email sent out to competitors, teams and the media, the RIGP is looking for ways to improve and looking for help planning this year’s event. Below is the statement made by the RIGP committee in search of what racers want for the event in 2019 and beyond.


In 2019, the Rock Island Grand Prix, the world’s largest karting street race, will celebrate its 25th anniversary. It is the largest weekend event of the year in Rock Island and one of the premier festival weekends in the Quad-Cities.

(Photo: qctimes.com)

In preparation, we are reaching out to all of our friends for ideas on how it can be improved. We need your ideas. We are looking for:

  • Interesting ancillary activities that you might have seen at other events
  • A one-time idea to celebrate the 25th anniversary
  • Dependable groups we can partner with (or which can take over) planning and producing the event
  • Possible new sponsors or others partners who could benefit from being involved
  • Individuals who would make a good addition to our planning committee. There are many opportunities even if you’re not a race fan.
  • Unique ways of expanding exposure and reach for our many dedicated partners and sponsors

… and anything else that might come to mind.

We hope the Grand Prix’s greatest years are still to come. The 25th year offers a great opportunity for review. We have been doing things a certain way for a long time. The world is changing. The cornerstones of our organizing committee are aging. We can blow up the event and do it differently, tinker around the edges, or pack it in with the knowledge that it provided a huge impact the Quad-Cities, kart racing in the world, and motorsports in general. A lot depends on the responses we get.

If you would like to know more about the Rock Island Grand Prix, please visit our website at rockislandgrandprix.com.

We like the slogan “Our best memories are still to come” but we need help in charting the best course for the future. Please respond by email with any feedback or ideas to rockislandgrandprix@gmail.com

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