Could A NASCAR Street Race Be Coming To Chicago’s Loop?
If this is something you might get excited about, you might want to temper your expectations, this might take a couple of years if it ever actually comes to fruition.
I'll be the first to admit that my interest level in NASCAR is somewhere between boxing and horse racing. I've seen it, I (kind of) understand it, but it just doesn't do anything for me. I tried to get into NASCAR during college when I joined a NASCAR fantasy league, but even the dopamine rush of mild gambling couldn't get me hooked.
A street race through downtown Chicago though? I am IN.
The earliest it could happen would be 2022 but a lot of things have to go right for that to happen. This is also all speculation based on the fact that the Chicago street racecourse will be the newest addition to NASCAR's iRacing.
What's iRacing? Good question. That's what NASCAR used last year during the pandemic when they couldn't hold live races. Basically, the drivers were all in high-tech simulators and they raced online. The product was actually pretty compelling and tons of people watched.
NASCAR only briefly experimented with street races more than 30 years ago when they held a Winston West Series race in downtown Washington DC from 86-88.
NASCAR team owner Roger Penske is very interested in a Chicago street race:
NASCAR.com - That could certainly be an opportunity and something we should take a look at... I think we need a year or maybe two years to get out hands around these (Next Gen) cars and know how agile they are and what are the costs? Does it need more brakes, etcetera, which you need. If you're running on a street course, you don't have the long straightaways to cool the brakes, so there's a lot of things that become different... but those are things we can adapt to, I think, very quickly as teams.
So, there are a lot of hurdles to clear to get this to happen, including getting the city of Chicago to agree and play along. If they do pull it off, I promise that this will be the first NASCAR race that I watch from start to finish.