NASCAR Chicago Street Race

Many downtown residents don't want NASCAR to return, Alderman's survey finds

The city entered a three-year agreement with NASCAR, which included a two-year renewal option.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Some downtown Chicago residents do not want NASCAR racing back to town.

Over half of the participants in an unscientific poll said they do not support NASCAR returning to Chicago after the inaugural race this summer. The survey, which received 662 responses, was conducted by Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), whose ward includes much of downtown and Grant Park.

In a newsletter to his constituents, Reilly said he will rely on resident feedback and an economic impact study from the city’s tourism agency to decide whether he will support future downtown NASCAR races.

The poll was conducted through his website and sent to ward residents earlier this month, making the survey open to anyone to participate. Reilly’s office did not have a breakdown for how many ward residents answered the survey.

The Chicago Sports Commission at Choose Chicago has commissioned an economic impact report on the NASCAR weekend. The independent study is being conducted by the Sports Industry Research Center at Temple University.

This year’s race weekend in early July took over Grant Park and shut down parts of DuSable Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue. Lightning and torrential rains disrupted much of the two-day event — both races were cut short and most of the weekend’s concerts were canceled.

The city entered a three-year agreement with NASCAR, which included a two-year renewal option.

Reilly has been one of the most outspoken critics of the street race. Last summer, Reilly blasted former Mayor Lori Lightfoot for keeping City Council members in the dark about the NASCAR deal before it was announced.

His poll asked residents three questions: How satisfied were you with outreach by NASCAR? Did the traffic closures associated with the event negatively impact your travels? Do you support NASCAR holding future races in Chicago?

Traffic closures in and around the race course negatively affected 58% of respondents, 34% said the race had no impact on their travels and 7% were indifferent.

Respondents were mixed on how they rated NASCAR’s outreach efforts. About 38% were satisfied, 32% said they were dissatisfied and 29% said they were neutral.

About 54% of the residents polled said they do not support future NASCAR races in the city, while 37% said they did, and 8% were indifferent.

NASCAR paid the Chicago Park District a $500,000 permit fee for the weekend. The permit fee rises to $550,000 in 2024 and $605,000 in 2025. The Park District also received a 15% commission on concessions, $2 per admission ticket and a $50,000 security deposit for damages to Grant Park.

In February, NASCAR projected the street race would bring in $113 million to the local economy.

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