LOVES PARK, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)—The roar of race cars will be heard one last season at the Rockford Speedway. The Deery Family which owns the facility and surrounding land, is turning over the property to developers after the upcoming season. It is the end of an era.

Racing has been going strong at the Rockford Speedway since May of 1948. In 1957 the Deery Family arrived on the scene with patriarch Hugh Deery taking a part-time job as an usher and ticket-taker. In 1959 Hugh and his wife Jody bought an ownership share in the speedway. In 1966 they took over full ownership. It was a family business run by the entire family that included eight children. Now, eight months after the passing of Jody, the family has decided to sell.

“It’s just the neighborhood is squishing in on us,” said Susan Deery who is currently the president of the Rockford Speedway. “It would be nice to continue, however David (her brother and the speedway’s general manager) and I are getting old and there really isn’t anybody, we really don’t have any kids that want to take over.”

“It all just kind of all came together,” said David Deery. “There’s nothing magic about it. It’s just time.”

There will be one final season of racing at the speedway. A “Last Lap” season they’re calling it. Then the nearly 50 acres of land will be transferred to Shorewood Development of Buffalo Grove for commercial development.

For decades the Rockford Speedway was surrounded by farmland. Commercial Development has boomed around the speedway over the last 15 years making the land at the track prime for more commercial growth.

I asked David Deery if his family felt pressure from the community, from politicians, and from developers to turn over the land.

“Over the years, honestly the last 20 years that’s been happening.”

What Jody Deery, who was so determined to keep the Rockford Speedway going as a place for family entertainment in Northern Illinois, have understood and approved of the decision to sell to developers?

“Absolutely,” said Susan. “She was, in the beginning of the conversations with Shorewood she was involved.”

Another of the eight Deery children Chuck agreed. “The biggest challenge that she (Jody Deery) had, and the speedway still has is to maintain this facility and to pay the taxes is very, very expensive. The burden on just keeping the business running is just at the tipping point.”

Some of the most famous NASCAR racers in history have raced or appeared at the Rockford Speedway over the years: Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Mark Martin and even the King Richard Petty.

This news of the Speedway closing is painful for generations of drivers and fans who grew up at this track.

“I certainly appreciate the commitments of especially the teams, the racers,” said David Deery.

I asked Susan what she would say to the drivers and many race fans who are heartbroken over this news.

“I’m so sorry. That’s the hard part. (pauses with teary eyes) It just, it breaks my heart.”

Again, there will be one more season of racing at the track this year. It starts with the Spring Classic the weekend of April 21st and 22nd.