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Where Will NASCAR’s Next Street Race Be?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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Many NASCAR fans have been speculating about where the next NASCAR street race could be. Ben Kennedy was recently interviewed in Sports Business Journal’s 40 under 40 piece talking about where NASCAR could go. He name dropped six different venues.

What would a street circuit at these races look like? Most importantly, where would they take place?

New York

It’s hard to believe that there has never been a NASCAR race held in New York City, and it is a market that many have been clambering for NASCAR to go to for a long time. Many races have been discussed there with many never getting off the ground. Formula One and IndyCar have each teased races there, but neither actually happened.

One series did end up holding a race in New York City, Formula E. The race was held in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn, New York. That track itself was likely not suited for NASCAR with it being only 1.475 miles long, however it does show that a race can be held there.

The biggest problem is that New York City is incredibly densely populated, which means that it is hard to find a big area that could be closed even for just a few days for a street race. It is the biggest media market in the country, however, which makes it a place NASCAR needs to, at the very least, talk to.

Denver

Denver is a market that NASCAR has flirted with, but never fully embraced. The closest it ever came to Denver was running some Xfinity Series and Truck Series races at Pikes Peak International Raceway in the late 1990s and early 2000s, which is about an hour outside of the city.

Champ Car, now known as IndyCar, ran two different iterations of street circuits in Denver, once around the Civic Center, with another around what is now known as Ball Arena. Ball Arena could be a good place to host the event. There are some parking lots and open space around, which allows for a temporary circuit with little disruption.

The problem with a circuit like this is that it would probably be boring to the eye on TV. It is not in downtown Denver like the Chicago Street Circuit was in downtown Chicago, so it does not have the same “wow” factor. Plus, what is the guarantee that the Denver locals will support this race.

Seattle

No street race has ever been held in Seattle, but it does exist in virtual form. Yes, Gran Turismo has a Seattle street circuit, which races around Lumen Field and T-Mobile Park, and yes, it is based on actual Seattle streets.

Is this exact layout likely? Well, if it was, someone would probably have tried it out in real life by now. The bottom line is that there is a market for racing in the Pacific Northwest, but the big question is where.

Seattle is a beautiful city, and there will be fans there to support it as is evidenced by the recent revival of another Pacific Northwest track, Portland. One big issue with Seattle is the weather, because Seattle is a very rainy city. This could cause havoc similar to what happened last weekend at the Chicago Street Race.

Canada

Canada is a market that NASCAR has been rumored to be looking towards for a little while now. Canada has two major options for NASCAR to go to. One is Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and the other is the current IndyCar track, the streets of Toronto.

Montreal is by far the more interesting racing venue. It hosts Formula One every year, and it is considered a street circuit, although it is not a “traditional” street circuit. Toronto is a traditional street circuit, and it is in the larger market. Toronto has nearly one million more inhabitants than Montreal does.

Canada is also very convenient as far as “international” venues go. It borders the United States meaning that there is no need to ship anything overseas, and the market will definitely support the race. Plus, imagine if NASCAR would partner with the Pinty’s Series for the weekend?

Mexico

Mexico is a country that has never hosted a major racing series on its city streets. It does have similar benefits to Canada in terms of convenience and market size. However, where to hold a street race is the biggest hold-up.

There are plenty of permanent circuits, most notably the AutĂłdromo Hermanos RodrĂ­guez, but there are plenty of oval circuits that the NASCAR Mexico Series races on. Permanent circuits are probably the route that NASCAR would have to go in Mexico.

That is not to say that there are absolutely no options. If they can find streets suitable for racing in a place like Mexico City or even Daniel Suarez’s hometown of Monterrey, that would be cool. It’s just hard to see where considering nothing had been held there and the mountainous geography of many of these places.

Middle East

NASCAR going to the Middle East has been rumored a bit, but Ben Kennedy specifically name dropped them as a place NASCAR is looking to go. Formula One has a pretty good stranglehold on the Middle East currently, which means that there is a market for racing out there. Is there a market for specifically NASCAR Racing?

The most prominent street circuit in the Middle East is the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia. This circuit has had its fair share of critics of its design, particularly when it comes to safety for Formula One cars. However, a bunch of markets in the Middle East have the infrastructure necessary to accommodate a street circuit, so options are aplenty.

The big problem comes with convenience. NASCAR teams would need to find a way to transport at least two cars, pit boxes, equipment, crew, and so on across the Atlantic Ocean to the other side of the world. Also, what does this mean for fans in the United States?

The Middle East is around 8-12 hours ahead depending on the time zone, meaning that a race that starts at 8:00 PM in the Middle East could start at maybe 11 AM on the East Coast, but at 8 AM on the West Coast. It would be difficult for U.S. fans to follow the race that early in the morning in some cases.

NASCAR has options for where they can take their series next. Where they will go is uncertain, but they clearly want to expand NASCAR’s reach beyond the U.S. They have exhausted most major U.S. markets, so now it is likely time to expand.

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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