For NASCAR’s 75th season, the sport will wave the green flag to Chicago.
NASCAR announced it will hold the first-ever street race in downtown Chicago. The Cup Series race will be against the backdrop of Lake Michigan and Grant Park on July 2, 2023. The debut race is part of a three-year deal with the city of Chicago through a venture spearheaded by Ben Kennedy, the 30-year-old great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France.
Kennedy successfully orchestrated the January exhibition race inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which will return for a second running in 2023. He has been designing these concepts since 2019.
“Historically we’ve always been short tracks, intermediates, superspeedways, eventually started getting more road courses and then came up with the Coliseum concept,” Kennedy told the Associated Press, via ESPN. “But the street course is something we haven’t explored a whole lot before, and the the ability for us to get a downtown setting like his and bring racing to our fans, a street course is a perfect opportunity for it.”
NASCAR has continued to make sweeping changes to its oval-heavy schedule, as the sport tries to garner more interest; it added both a dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway and additional road courses and now a completely new concept.
The Chicago race will be paired with an IMSA sports car race the day before, along with music and entertainment located along the 12-turn, 2.2-mile street course.
The Chicago street course will replace the road course race at Road America on the Cup Series schedule.
“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 statement, per ESPN. “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 schedule for the 2023 season has not been finalized yet, but all eyes will be on Chicago for July as preparations for the race begin.