NASCAR officially announced on Tuesday that it will have a street course race in the 2023 Cup Series through downtown Chicago for the first time ever on July 2.
Lake Shore Drive, Michigan Avenue, Columbus Drive and select surrounding thoroughfares will be part of a 12-turn, 2.2-mile street course with the start-finish line and pit road in front of Buckingham Fountain. The course will pass through Grant Park as well as approach the northern edge of Soldier Field.
“Chicago is one of the world’s top sports and entertainment destinations,” said Kara Bachman, executive director of the Chicago Sports Commission. “Year after year, fans from all over the world travel to our great city for high-profile sporting events. The 2023 NASCAR Chicago Street Race weekend will continue that legacy with another monumental sports moment and we look forward to welcoming fans to NASCAR’s first-ever street race.”
Reports of NASCAR heading to Chicago had gathered steam over the past months. The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series had drivers virtually race on a Chicago street circuit as part of its continued use of its partnership with iRacing to test out new venues in virtual simulations. It was that type of virtual tryout, so to speak, that eventually led to the Busch Light Clash moving from Daytona Beach, Florida, to Los Angeles and the LA Coliseum this past year with the event already scheduled to return to LA in 2023.
“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,” said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing development and strategy. “This is the ideal setting for the first-ever NASCAR Cup Series street race.”
NASCAR first raced in Chicago in 1956, holding a Cup Series event at Soldier Field. The Camping World Truck Series had races at the Chicago Motor Speedway in 2000–2001 and Cup Series events were held from 2001–19 in Joliet at Chicagoland Speedway.
“Chicago’s streets are as iconic as our skyline and our reputation as a world class sports city is indisputable,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. “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.”