The city of Chicago is getting a NASCAR race – at least virtually.
Wednesday, NASCAR and iRacing jointly announced with the City of Chicago and the Chicago Sports Commission that the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series will compete on a street course in Chicago. It will be the fifth race on the schedule, taking place June 2 and broadcast on Fox Sports 1.
“On behalf of the City of Chicago, I am thrilled to work with NASCAR and iRacing to showcase our great city to NASCAR fans who will be watching this cutting-edge event from around the country,” said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “Through this exciting and innovative exhibition, fans will be able to see and experience Chicago’s iconic downtown in a way that has never been done before. I am excited to partner with NASCAR and iRacing to produce this event and look forward to providing a new, uniquely Chicago experience to those near and far.”
Windy city, windy roads. 💨
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) March 24, 2021
The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series began last year when real racing paused due to the coronavirus pandemic. The program returns tonight with virtual Bristol Motor Speedway (on dirt, like this weekend’s actual races). There will be 10 races run on virtual courses that align with the real race weekend at that particular racetrack.
“The success of our eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series was underscored by an industry-wide effort to entertain fans during the early months of the global pandemic,” said Tim Clark, NASCAR senior vice president and chief digital officer. “This year, the Pro Invitational will return with a schedule of midweek races that will bridge the gap between our real-world races each weekend.”
For the Chicago course, NASCAR and iRacing scanned real-life city streets and avenues. The street course runs past the city’s iconic skyline and Lake Shore Drive and then around Buckingham Fountain and Grant Park.
“Today’s announcement marks a huge milestone for Chicago and the Chicago Sports Commission,” said Kara Bachman, Executive Director of the Chicago Sports Commission. “CSC and its partners, such as TSMGI, who has been integral in securing this event, have long awaited the opportunity to collaborate with NASCAR. The iRacing Pro Invitational Series is the perfect virtual launching pad and a testament to NASCAR’s innovation.”