NASCAR Cup Series cars will roar through the streets of Chicago in early July 2023.
NASCAR officials and the city joined together on Tuesday afternoon to announce the deal to bring stock cars to the country’s third-largest television market. The launch was held at the NBC Tower/Cityfront Plaza, where the cars of Ross Chastain (Chevrolet), Chase Briscoe (Ford), and Bubba Wallace (Toyota) were prominently displayed for those passing through.
July 1-2 is the date for what’s being called NASCAR Chicago Street Race Weekend.
“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,” said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing development and strategy. “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 Lightfoot and her team, along with the entire City of Chicago for working with us to make this concept a reality.”
The Cup Series race (Sunday, July 2) will be preceded by an IMSA-sanctioned race Saturday, July 1. It was not announced which IMSA series would be participating. Music and entertainment options will also be featured during the weekend.
In attendance for Tuesday’s announcement were Ben Kennedy, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot and Wallace.
“Chicago’s streets are as iconic as our skyline and our reputation as a world-class sports city is indisputable,” said Lightfoot. “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.”
A temporary 12-turn course 2.2 miles long will be erected in downtown Chicago. The start/finish line and pit road will be on South Columbus Drive in front of Buckingham Fountain. Other notable areas the course will run through include Grant Park and the northern edge of Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears.
The course mirrors what NASCAR and iRacing partnered to run for a virtual eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series event in June 2021.
“Welcoming yet another NASCAR event to Illinois just weeks after the inaugural Enjoy Illinois 300 Cup Series race (at Gateway) is a testament to the strength of our tourism industry from Chicago to Metro East,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “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 has not had a presence in the area since last competing at Chicagoland Speedway in 2019. But Chicagoland is based in Joliet, Illinois, which is approximately 50 miles from downtown.
The Chicago street course is slated to replace Road America on the Cup Series schedule, an event that was held on the same race weekend the last two years. NASCAR is expected to release the full 2023 schedule early next month.