After years of discussion, the NASCAR Cup Series is now poised to compete on a street circuit after the city of Chicago, Illinois officially endorsed the idea, The Athletic reports. And we could have the event as soon as 2023.
Right now, The Athletic notes that there are no official plans to host a race just yet. There are no signed contracts or guarantees. But the website obtained a letter that endorses the race:
“Chicago is incredibly enthusiastic about the opportunity to serve as host of the 2023, 2024 and 2025 NASCAR Chicago Street Course events, and we stand ready to welcome NASCAR fans to our world class city,” the letter states. “This would be a historic partnership for NASCAR and the city of Chicago, and our department is committed to collaborating and supporting NASCAR to execute the events in a safe and secure manner.”
This isn’t the first time NASCAR and Chicago have paired their names. In 2021, the two partnered together to develop a virtual street circuit on iRacing that was featured in the televised iRacing Pro Invitational Series. The 2.2-mile course ran on some of the Windy City’s most famous streets, including Lake Shore Drive, Michigan Avenue, and Columbus Avenue. You can check out iRacing’s preview clip below:
Would the actual race circuit be laid out in the exact same way? Right now, there’s no indication that would be the case, though the goal of developing the virtual circuit was to design and test a track that could become reality. There are a lot of logistical concerns to sift through before we can confirm that to be the case, though.
While the NASCAR Cup Series tends to stick to a schedule of ovals with a few road courses thrown in, a street circuit is a new concept for American-based stock car organization. Canada’s NASCAR Pinty’s Series, however, includes the Exhibition Place Street Circuit in Toronto (the same venue that hosts IndyCar), and those races are always great ones.
The decision to opt for a street circuit falls in line with some of NASCAR’s goals as we proceed through the Next-Gen era. With race cars designed to be a little more reminiscent of the actual production vehicles we see on the road, it makes sense to diversify the series’ audience to show the diversity of the cars’ capabilities. It’s the same reason why NASCAR has introduced the Bristol dirt race, the Charlotte Roval, and the Clash at the Los Angeles Coliseum; it’s time to get the sport in front of new eyes in new markets.