NASCAR officially announced the three-year agreement at a joint press conference in Chicago on Tuesday, that was attended by representatives from both organisations and influential political figures from Chicago.
Since NASCAR officials originally suggested the race a year ago, which will encompass Lake Shore Drive along the lakefront, preparations have been ongoing.
According to NASCAR, a 12-turn, 2.2-mile street course would be constructed on Lake Shore Drive, Michigan Avenue, Columbus Drive, and nearby boulevards. The start-finish line and pit road will be situated along South Columbus Drive, immediately in front of Buckingham Fountain.
The Cup Series’ first attempt into street racing will be the Chicago Street Race, which NASCAR has announced will take place on July 1/2, 2023.
The Chicago Sports Commission’s director Kara Bachman, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Development & Strategy Ben Kennedy, and driver Bubba Wallace whose 23XI Racing owner Michael Jordan is a legendary figure in Chicago sports—were among the speakers at the unveiling.
“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 stated.
“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 concept first emerged in 2021, as Kennedy led NASCAR to look for fresh approaches to connect with a wider audience without risking money on long-term track construction.
As a result of marketing, the Busch Light Clash, which featured a street course between NASCAR and the City of Chicago, was held in February inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
In order to test the Chicago street racing concept, NASCAR and the city built a street circuit in iRacing and James Davison won the series finale for the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series on this course.
It is a twelve-turn, 2.2-mile (3.54-km) track that travels through Lake Shore Drive, Michigan Avenue, and Columbus Drive as well as through Grand Park close to Soldier Field in real life. The layout is exactly the same as that of its iRacing equivalent.
Chicagoland Speedway, the third track in the region to host a Cup race (the first being Soldier Field in 1956), lost its race dates to COVID-19 in 2020 before being completely eliminated the following year.
There will also be racing on July 1 as part of IMSA, though it was not immediately clear which series.