NASCAR announces Chicago Street Race for July 2023

The widely speculated became official Tuesday afternoon, as NASCAR announced their plan to hold the first-ever street course race taking place in Chicago, Illinois over the weekend of July 1-2 next year.NASCAR President Steve Phelps, Senior VP of Racing Development and Strategy Ben Kennedy, 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace and city mayor Lori Lightfoot were among the numerous individuals on hand to reveal the news publicly at the famed NBC Tower, just north of the Chicago River.

“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,” Kennedy said in a release. “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.”

The race will take place on Sunday, July 2 and can be heard on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90), with IMSA preceding the Cup event on Saturday, July 1.

eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at virtual Chicago Street Course

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The Chicago street course idea was first born on iRacing in the fall of 2020, utilized extensively in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to help keep NASCAR, its teams and television networks afloat during the shutdown. The course was used in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series

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

This is not NASCAR’s first foray into racing in the Windy City, as Joliet’s Chicagoland Speedway, a 1.5-mile oval, hosted the Cup Series from 2001-2019 before falling off the schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NASCAR has not been afraid to be bold and innovative in recent years when it comes to shaking up the once maligned and stagnant schedule. New venues such as Nashville Superspeedway, Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Worldwide Technology Raceway in St. Louis and putting dirt on Bristol Motor Speedway have been widely successful highlights over the last two years.

A move that was also a first of its kind was the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which held the “Busch Light Clash” exhibition race earlier this February. Putting stock cars inside a stick-and-ball stadium in the middle of the city was an entirely new concept for the sanctioning body, as is this street race in Chicago.

But given The Clash’s overwhelming success (and renewal for 2023 and beyond), putting another first of its kind race in a major metropolitan area seemed like a no brainer for NASCAR.

Another venue that was added aid the shakeups was Road America, which Ben Kennedy confirmed will not be on the 2023 schedule in part due to this announcement.

Despite the great attendance at RA, the independent ownership of the track falling outside the two major companies (NASCAR and Speedway Motorsports) that make up the majority of NASCAR venues puts it on the chopping block. Though no formal announcement has been made, the 2023 Cup Series schedule is expected to be released in the next few weeks.

Listen to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) on the SXM App now.

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