CHICAGO — For a second-straight year, drivers in NASCAR will take to the streets of the “Windy City” for a showcase in the summer.
This time, it will take place just a little bit later.
The stock car race company announced on Wednesday that the second Chicago Street Race will be staged on Saturday, July 6 and Sunday, July 7. This comes a week later than the inaugural event, which took place on July 1 & 2 this past summer.
NASCAR’s Xfinity Series race will go off on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. central time with the Cup Series event taking place on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. central time.
After NASCAR’s announcement, the City of Chicago released this statement the street races return along with ways the stock car company is helping the city with the two-day event after conversations with the Mayor’s office.
“As a result of these conversations, NASCAR has agreed to shorten the event’s set up and tear down windows, reducing travel disruption for impacted communities and other residents,” said the Mayor’s office in a statement. “NASCAR has also committed to addressing costs incurred by City departments and agencies in facilitating and securing the event as consistent with other large-scale events. This is a win for Chicago taxpayers, as the original agreement did not include provisions for such costs.
“Finally, NASCAR has committed to growing its impressive investments in Chicago communities and expanding opportunities for small-, minority- and women-owned businesses to participate as vendors in 2024. The City looks forward to working with NASCAR and other stakeholders to deliver a successful Chicago Street Race weekend in 2024 that works for residents, fans and Chicago’s economy.”
There was some doubt if the event would return since both NASCAR and the City of Chicago had the ability to opt out of the three-year deal for a cost. The lead-up to the event featured a mix of curiosity and criticism with it being conceived during Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration and staged at the start of Mayor Brandon Johnson’s term.
But the event, which got some strong reviews while dealing with torrential rains in its first year, will get the chance to return for a second time.
Last year, competitors took to a 2.2-mile, 12-turn course that made its way around Grant Park, starting and finishing on Columbus Drive with racing on DuSable Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue.
Closures for the event began in early June as crews began to construct the start/finish line suites along with the grandstands around the course. In order to cause the least amount of disruption possible, the amount of time some streets and sidewalks were closed was reduced from the original plans.
To cut down on the noise, special mufflers were put on the cars, and track time for both the Xfinity and Cup Series was limited to a total of ten hours over two days with no activity before 10 a.m.
As Chicago adjusted to losing part of the downtown area due to the footprint of the course, NASCAR would spend their first weekend on the streets of the city maneuvering around the weather.
Thunderstorms caused the Xfinity Race, The Loop 121, to be stopped and initially moved to Sunday. With persistent rain continuing into the morning and early afternoon, the decision was made to conclude the race after 25 laps and 55 miles, with Cole Custer declared the winner.
It looked for most of Sunday that rain would force the Cup Series race to be delayed until Monday, but the rain broke in the late afternoon and the race was started at 5:15 p.m. The race had to be shortened from 100 to 78 laps due to darkness after the late start, with Australian road course specialist Shane van Gisbergen getting the victory in his first NASCAR start.
While the rain certainly dampened the event, praise was given to the visuals produced by the event, showing off the Chicago skyline to a nationwide audience of NASCAR fans. It was the most-viewed stock car race on NBC in six years and the most streamed NASCAR event on their online platforms.