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NASCAR plan to race on the streets of Chicago on July 2, 2023

With iconic sites like Grant Park and Michigan Avenue along the way, NASCAR’s event is set to be a very special one indeed.

NASCAR plan to race on the streets of Chicago on July 2, 2023
Patrick McDermottAFP

It’s the first time in NASCAR’s 75-year history that a street course will be staged and even more exciting it will happen in the ‘Windy City.’

NASCAR announces Chicago street race in 2023 summer

According to an official announcement from NASCAR on Tuesday, they will be holding a street race in Chicago on July 2nd, 2023. Referred to as the NASCAR Cup Series street course race, the event will be televised by NBC and will actually be preceded by an IMSA-sanctioned series race on July 1st. It is understood that the specific details of the July 1st even will be announced at a later date.

“This is a huge, huge sports town,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. “I think that goes without saying and the opportunity to bring something so unique as NASCAR to the city of Chicago I think it’s gonna be one of the most iconic race courses maybe ever and introduce a whole new fan base to what NASCAR is about in the city of Chicago. We couldn’t pass up that opportunity.

What’s NASCAR’s Chicago course going to be like?

As things stand, NASCAR has proposed a 12-turn, 2.2-mile course that will see drivers navigate major city roads like Columbus Drive, Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. This will understandably see them taking the scenic route along Lake Michigan and around the city’s ever popular Grant Park. The start and finish line and pit road will be located along South Columbus Drive directly in front of Buckingham Fountain. Interestingly, the course will actually pass-through Grant Park and not just next to it as well as other famous areas like Soldier Field.

“Like the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum, we seized an incredible opportunity to add an unprecedented element to our schedule and take center stage in the heart of another major metropolitan market,” Ben Kennedy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing development and strategy, said in a statement. “This is the ideal setting for the first-ever NASCAR Cup Series street race. The NASCAR Cup Series Next Gen cars and the IMSA machines will race along the shores of Lake Michigan in downtown Chicago, marking a truly historic moment for our sport. We are very appreciative of Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her team, along with the entire City of Chicago for working with us to make this concept a reality.”

Chicago and NASCAR have been here before

Interestingly, this is not the first time that a NASCAR event has been hosted in Chicago. Indeed, from 2001-2019 the NASCAR Cup series was staged at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet on a closed circuit. Also, as recently as summer last year - June in 2021 to be specific - NASCAR and iRacing held an Esports 2.2-mile virtual race through the city, over Lakeshore Drive, Michigan Avenue and of course the near the famed Grant Park. The event was nationally televised.

“Welcoming yet another NASCAR event to Illinois just weeks after the inaugural Enjoy Illinois 300 Cup Series race is a testament to the strength of our tourism industry from Chicago to Metro East,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. “Illinois, with its longstanding tradition of innovation, is a fitting host for NASCAR’s first-ever street race, and we are thrilled to welcome this new series to America’s most iconic drive next summer.”

NASCAR’s announcement has interesting timing

What’s curious about NASCAR’s announcement, is that it comes just one day before the Chicago City Council is set to vote on a proposed ordinance aimed bringing a stop to “reckless,” illegal street racing in the city that has apparently “tormented” residents citywide. The proposed ordinance would permit the Chicago police to “immediately impound a car involved in drag racing,” establish fines between $5,000 - $10,000 per offense and more if necessary. With that said, be sure to keep an eye on where tickets will be going on sale later this year.


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