For the first time in its 75-year history, NASCAR has announced plans for a street course as it brings racing to downtown Chicago in July 2023.
The racing giant made the announcement Tuesday, revealing that NASCAR will hold a street race July 2, 2023.
The NASCAR Cup Series street course race, which will be televised on NBC, will take place on July 2 and will be preceded by an IMSA-sanctioned series race, which will run on July 1, officials announced. The specific July 1 race will be announced at a later date.
"This is a huge, huge sports town," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. "I think that goes without saying and the opportunity to bring something so unique as NASCAR to the city of Chicago I think it's gonna be one of the most iconic race courses maybe ever and and introduce a whole new fan base to what NASCAR is about in the city of Chicago. We couldn't pass up that opportunity."
The proposed 12-turn, 2.2-mile course will take drivers onto major city roads like Columbus Drive, Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive, taking them along Lake Michigan and around the city's popular Grant Park.
The start and finish line and pit road will be located along South Columbus Drive directly in front of Buckingham Fountain. The course will pass through the famed Grant Park, the northern edge of Soldier Field and more.
“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,” Ben Kennedy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing development and strategy, said in a statement. “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 Lori Lightfoot and her team, along with the entire City of Chicago for working with us to make this concept a reality.”
Tickets are set to go on-sale later this year at NASCARChicago.com.
It wouldn't be the first time a NASCAR series is held in the Chicago area. From 2001-2019, The NASCAR Cup series was held at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet on a closed course.
And in June of 2021, NASCAR and iRacing held an televised Esports 2.2-mile virtual race through the city, over Lakeshore Drive, Michigan Avenue and near Grant Park.
“Welcoming yet another NASCAR event to Illinois just weeks after the inaugural Enjoy Illinois 300 Cup Series race is a testament to the strength of our tourism industry from Chicago to Metro East,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. “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.”
The announcement comes one day before the Chicago City Council is set to vote on a proposed ordinance aimed at curbing "reckless," illegal street racing in the city that has "tormented" residents in several wards. The proposed ordinance would permit the Chicago police to "immediately impound a car involved in drag racing," establish fines between $5,000 - $10,000 per offense and more.