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NASCAR’s Street Race Deal with Chicago Explained

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What’s Happening?

Chicago holds the distinction of being the first 100% street circuit in NASCAR history, but many wonder about its future. However, to understand the event’s future, we have to understand the root of the event itself. Here are all of the most important things for you to know about the Chicago Street Race.

  • The Chicago Street Race was first announced in 2022. The layout was designed after iRacing scanned the city streets. In 2021, the layout was used in a NASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational race, with the real race becoming a reality in 2023.
  • However, the deal has many hurdles to overcome before it can be a long-term fixture on the calendar. Will NASCAR be able to stay in Chicago after the deal is up?
  • Fans are a bit mixed on the Chicago Street Race. Some hope to see the event survive and thrive, but they feel there are better tracks out there that NASCAR could visit.

Everything We Know

The original agreement between Chicago and the City of Chicago to host the street race lasts three years, from 2023 through 2025. However, Robert Channick of the Chicago Tribune reports that there is also a two-year option, potentially extending the race through 2027.

A three-year contract is not unheard of in NASCAR scheduling. NASCAR used the same length for their other race on a temporary circuit. The deal with the Clash at the LA Coliseum ran for three years, from 2022 through 2024, but multiple recent reports indicate the venue may not return for 2025.

The event date is also set in the contract, with NBC 5 Chicago reporting back in 2022 that the event is “Tentatively” slated to happen in the first weekend of July throughout the deal. The race weekend ran on July 1st and 2nd in 2023 and is scheduled for July 6th and 7th in 2024, slating the 2025 race for July 5th and 6th.

However, while the deal is three years, there are opt-out options. Multiple outlets have reported that Chicago must give 180 days’ notice to back out of hosting the Chicago Street Race. This means a decision must be made just after the New Year at the latest.

Plenty of other factors contribute to opposition to the Street Race. These include a new mayoral administration, how Chicago typically handles sports events, and the overall success of the street race as a television product. Our very own John Rizzo dove into these factors in the video below.

Things To Speculate On

While these details on the contract may not be explicitly stated, we can speculate on some other residual factors of the deal. One major factor is how to handle the weather.

The 2023 race was marred by rain and lightning delays, which canceled three of the four concerts scheduled to occur, the final 30 laps of the Xfinity Series race, and, ultimately, the Cup Series race due to impending darkness. Much of this was due to differences in weather policy between Chicago and NASCAR.

Whereas NASCAR puts races on a 30-minute hold due to lightning, events in Grant Park are often stopped altogether due to lightning. The policy reads on that, in instances of lightning and severe weather, “Patrons are advised to exit the Park.” For more information on the weather policy, check out the article below.

The 2023 event also showcased that, should a race be postponed, there may be no guarantee of postponing it to Monday. This is due to the setup and teardown schedule on the city streets. One extra day means critical roadways like DuSable Lake Shore Drive (U.S. Route 41) are likely closed for an extra day, adding to the logistical headache of the Street Race.

Another thing to consider is Chicagoland Speedway, a track NASCAR still owns despite being off the schedule since 2020. It certainly sounds easy to move the street race to Chicagoland Speedway if the street race is canceled for 2025 or beyond, but there is no indication the contract requires that. Either way, it could easily happen, given that the track hosted Super Motorcross in 2023, so the track can still host big events.

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