A NASCAR street course race is officially coming to Chicago Fourth of July weekend 2023.
According to NASCAR's website, NASCAR will host "Chicago Street Race Weekend" the first weekend of July 2023. The NASCAR Cup Series race will take place on Sunday, July 2. IMSA will race on Saturday, July 1.
The street course race is the first of its kind for the NASCAR Cup Series. Stock car racing has traditionally been in oval tracks with banked turns. Street courses are more common in open wheel racing, like Formula 1.
“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, 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.”
NASCAR hosted races at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet from 2001 to 2019, but hasn't hosted a race in the Chicago area since.
The groundwork for a Chicago street course was laid last year, when a virtual street course was piloted in iRacing. That street course incorporated parts of some iconic downtown scenes including Michigan Avenue, Lake Shore Drive, Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain.
“Chicago’s streets are as iconic as our skyline and our reputation as a world class sports city is indisputable,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot in a statement. “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.”
The 2023 NASCAR course will follow the virtual race course. The start line was on S Columbus Dr. by the Buckingham Fountain where Ida B. Wells Dr. dead ends into S Columbus Dr. From there, the course went south, turning left onto E Balbo Drive towards Lake Shore Drive. Then a right turn on Lake Shore to head South towards the Field Museum, followed by a right turn on E Roosevelt Road to head west. Then it was another right back onto Columbus Drive to head north toward E Balbo Drive.
Then a left turn on E Balbo Drive toward Michigan Avenue, followed by a right turn on Michigan to go north. Then the course veers onto E Congress Plaza Dr before rejoining Michigan Avenue to head north. Then there is a right turn E Jackson Drive, before turning right on S Columbus Dr to return to the start/finish line.
While just a video game, the visuals were still stunning.
Summertime Chicago just got another amazing event.