NASCAR Invading Downtown Chicago Next Summer [UPDATED]
A bit of racing news has crossed the wire — news that is admittedly close to my heart since I live in the Windy City.
NASCAR is apparently coming to Chicago.
Not returning to Chicagoland Speedway in far southwest suburban Joliet, which coincidentally your author used as a backdrop for some test-vehicle photos this past weekend. No. Instead, the stock cars will be racing on the streets of the Chi.
The race weekend appears slated for July 1-2, and it also appears to be the first of a three-year deal.
Sadly, it also might mean NASCAR won’t go to the famed Road America track near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin (about a three-hour drive from Chicago) next year. I attended the 2021 race and enjoyed it immensely, despite the heat. NASCAR should, in my opinion, be at Road America every year.
That said, I am sure NASCARs bouncing and sliding around the Loop will be a sight to behold, though I also know how badly shutting down downtown streets will screw up traffic. Us locals already deal with the music festival Lollapalooza every year — and the street closures needed for a stock-car race will involve a bigger chunk of land.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the race course will be 2.2 miles long and be north of Roosevelt Road, making use of Columbus Drive, Michigan Avenue, and DuSable Lake Shore Drive. It might go as far north as Jackson Boulevard, which is part of the old Route 66.
For non-locals, that is most of you, this means the route will be in the heart of downtown, near the famous Grant Park. I’d expect Lake Michigan, the Chicago River, and the famed Buckingham Fountain to be part of the backdrop.
It’s also criminal if they don’t recreate The Blues Brothers (or The Dark Knight, for you younger folk) and use part of Lower Wacker Drive.
Non-race fans will complain, NASCAR fans will descend upon downtown, the Sears (now Willis) Tower will look great on TV, and the racecar engines will sound great bouncing around the urban canyons, to the dismay of local residents hoping for an afternoon nap.
Should be fun.
Update: It appears this became official as I working on the post. See you next summer, NASCAR.
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