NASCAR road course coming to the streets of Chicago

NASCAR will hold a race on the streets of Chicago in July 2023, series officials and the city announced Tuesday.

What is billed as NASCAR Chicago Street Race Weekend is scheduled for July 1-2 of next year. It will consist of races for both NASCAR’s top Cup Series and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which is also controlled by NASCAR. The IMSA race is scheduled for Saturday July 1, with the Cup Series race following on Sunday July 2.

Races will be run on a temporary 12-turn, 2.2-mile course in downtown Chicago. The start/finish line and pit lane will be on South Columbus Drive, with the course running through Grant Park and adjacent to Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears. It will use part of South Lake Shore Drive, Balbo Drive, East Congress Plaza Drive, East Roosevelt Road, and East Jackson Drive. The layout mirrors one used for a virtual eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race from June 2021, Racer noted.

Proposed layout for 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Chicago street race.

Proposed layout for 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Chicago street race.

 

NASCAR has added more road courses in recent years to supplement its traditional ovals, but so far all have been on permanent circuits, not temporary street courses. Along with a race at the Los Angeles Coliseum that kicked off the 2022 season, and dirt races at Bristol Motor Speedway, the Chicago race is another example of organizers trying out a new format.

The street race also keeps NASCAR in the valuable Windy City market. Chicagloand Speedway in nearby Joliet, Illinois, lost its race after 2019. The Chicago street race will also replace Road America on NASCAR’s calendar. The race at that Wisconsin road course was held the same weekend the last two years and drew large crowds on a historic track.

Will a street course in downtown Chicago provide better racing than those two more traditional venues? Stay tuned.

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