NASCAR officially announced its widely-anticipated street race on the streets of Chicago today at a press conference in the city. America’s third-largest city will host the NASCAR Cup Series on July 1st and 2nd, 2023. NASCAR’s top division will also be supported during the Chicago race weekend by a yet-to-be-specified IMSA-sanctioned series. The race, slated to be held a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan, will mark the first time the NASCAR Cup Series will compete on the streets of a major American city.
A number of dignitaries attended today’s press conference, including Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and driver Bubba Wallace, who races for the 23XI Racing team owned by Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan. Everyone spoke of the excitement and the promise that NASCAR’s newest event will bring to the city next year. Wallace hopes to inspire the next generation of racing drivers.
Mayor Lightfoot said in a release:
Chicago’s streets are as iconic as our skyline and our reputation as a world class sports city is indisputable. I am thrilled to welcome our partners at NASCAR to Chicago for an event that will attract thousands of people to our city. Chicago’s world class entertainment and hospitality industries, coupled with our city’s history as a conduit for sports talent, make us the perfect hosts for this unique event.
The proposed 2.2-mile street course will utilize several streets within and around Grand Park, including Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue. The start-finish straight and pit road will be located on South Columbus Drive. Turns 4 and 5 will see the Cup Series cars run in the shadow of Soldier Field, the iconic home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears and one-time short-track venue for the NASCAR Cup Series in 1956. The 12-turn course is virtually identical to the circuit that NASCAR helped iRacing bring to its racing simulator last year.
This addition will likely come at the expense of Road America near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The Chicago street race will seemingly take over the race date currently held by the Wisconsin road course after only two seasons on the Cup Series schedule. NASCAR has also previously raced in the Chicago area for nearly 20 years at the appropriately named Chicagoland Speedway. The 1.5-mile oval had a Cup Series date until 2019 and is located 40 miles southwest of Chicago.
It’s impressive to see NASCAR take the Cup Series to another major metropolitan market. Coming off the success of holding the Busch Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and returning back to the venue next year, adding a points-paying race in Chicago seems to be a huge step forward in increasing NASCAR’s cultural presence.