Chicago to host 1st-ever NASCAR street race in Grant Park area next summer

CHICAGO (WLS) — NASCAR is coming to Chicago. Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined NASCAR leaders, including driver Bubba Wallace, for the big announcement Tuesday afternoon.

NASCAR Chicago Street Racing Weekend will be held downtown on July 1 and 2, 2023 and is expected to return annually till 2025.

“Chicago’s streets are as iconic as our skyline and our reputation as a world-class sports city is indisputable,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a press release.

NASCAR plans to hold the race on a temporary street course downtown in the Grant Park area.

This would be the first of its kind, in that it’s not on an actual course, but rather temporary street courses.

The course will take drivers through the downtown lakefront area around Grant Park at speeds near 180 mph.

Some of the streets scheduled to be used are Lakeshore Drive, Michigan Avenue, Columbus Drive and select surrounding streets to form the 12-turn, 2.2 mile course, according to the press release from the mayor’s office.

NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace said this new course will attract local attention on familiar ground for the city.

“These are the same streets you guys drive on every day,” Wallace said. “So you guys get to experience that. We’ll just be unrestricted on the speed limit.”

Lightfoot is hoping the deal will be another spark in Chicago’s economic engine.

“Lolla is about a $300 million enterprise for us,” Lightfoot said. “So, when I think about us, continuing to recover from the pandemic and the opportunities for restaurants, bars and hotels… it’s hard to even put a value on that.”

Chicago’s Loop Alliance said it is looking forward to the revenue the events will bring, saying in a statement in part, “Events and tourism are great economic drivers of the Loop, and the potential NASCAR races would be a boost to a recovering hospitality and tourism sector.”

RELATED: City Council considers drag racing ordinance as video shows cars doing stunts in West Loop

Neighbors have expressed concerns about the noise and traffic the event will bring.

Lightfoot also dismissed the notion that this could encourage more drag racing and drifting incidents that have been happening. Lightfoot said comparing the two is “apple and oranges.”

The 2023 race will be a part of NASCAR’s 75th anniversary. Tickets for the event are scheduled to go on-sale later this summer.

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