NASCAR’s Chicago inaugural street race preparations underway

NASCAR's Chicago inaugural street race preparations underway

NASCAR is gearing up for Chicago inaugural street race and city officials released an update on street closure plans and how to navigate around them.

Scaffolding was already placed near Buckingham Fountain on Monday as preparations for the first-ever race got underway. There are already parking restrictions in place for the July event.

Monday marked 19 days until the race takes over Grant Park. However, weeks before the event workers were already hard at work erecting a grandstand along Ida B. Wells Drive. Last weekend saw the beginning of construction.

On Monday, workers resumed their deadline-driven work into the evening, as per routine. Sky-high seating was assembled entirely from scratch in a matter of days. Additionally, the setting will include VIP suites with breathtaking views.

For the grandstand, which is roughly where the future start/finish location and main “fan plaza” will be located, the road has already been closed from Michigan Avenue to Columbus Drive.

Then starting on Monday a part of Balbo Drive between Michigan Avenue and DuSable Lake Shore Drive will be closed. Columbus Drive will continue to remain open to traffic until the following week as the track comes together. All of this is done as part of the ongoing preparations for the NASCAR event on July 1 and July 2.

Legendary driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. recently offered a tour around the track to address the unique challenges it presents to racers. The entire reopening of roads and walkways won’t happen until July 15.

Motorists disagree on whether the closures are more than a slight inconvenience as they attempt to keep up with route changes. Local drivers are just starting to realize the largest shutdown, one that might cause traffic jams in all directions. A section of DuSable Lake Shore Drive will close on June 28 and remain closed for two weeks after the event.

“The traffic is going to be insane to and from work – yeah, definitely,” a motorist said.

Others contend that excitement exceeds traffic problems.

“Not everybody is here for NASCAR,” a woman said.

In a statement, a NASCAR spokesperson said: “The build of the Chicago street course is going smoothly and on schedule.

“NASCAR continues to work closely with the City of Chicago to actively communicate about traffic and parking impacts via news alerts, social media, mailers, and one-on-one canvassing in the area surrounding the course.”

Repaving work along a portion of DuSable Lake Shore Drive has already inconvenienced local drivers recently; on Monday afternoon, workers were on the road closing portions of the southbound lanes. Later this week, maintenance will sometimes call for the closure of some northbound and southbound lanes.

A city briefing on the NASCAR road closures will be held on Tuesday.

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