Motorsport News

Could This Be One Last Breath for Chicago’s Street Course?

Chicago Street Circuit Race Day in 4

From 2001-2019, Chicagoland Speedway was the home of regular NASCAR Cup Series racing year in and year out. After 2019, though, the Windy City was absent of the thundering noise of V8 engines.

That is, until 2023, when the first Chicago Street Race took place. Shane van Gisbergen lit the NASCAR world aflame, and the rest was history.

All is well that ends well, right? Wrong. The Chicago street course has had a tumultuous, if short, lifespan. So much so that this could be the last iteration of the course as fans have come to know it.

To understand the backlash behind the race, attention must turn toward the person said backlash has been directed at: former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Lightfoot was in the midst of a reelection campaign, and is on record stating that she saw an opportunity for profit and collaboration when she and NASCAR began talking about the inception of the street course.

The original plan was to have three races at the Chicago street course, pending Lightfoot’s reelection. Those began with the 2023 race, won by van Gisbergen. Those that remember that race will also remember what an absolute cluster it turned out to be.

The race weekend was plagued by a torrential downpour. Not only that, but as far as city planning goes, the course took up a few of the busiest, most famous streets in Chicago.

Clearly, many Chicago residents were upset that some of the main roads through downtown were closed for the race. As any person who has ever been to Chicago will attest, traffic is bad enough on a normal weekend, but especially if key roads are shut down.

Not only did residents raise their concerns with the race, but several city council members did as well. Mainly because, according to the members, Lightfoot did not seek consultation from them before approving the race. Even the Alderman whose district the race takes place in was left out. All of this on Lightfoot’s way out the door, too. Her replacement, Brandon Johnson, did green light this year’s race, but not without some modifications.

Those modifications do not impact the direct location of the track. However, they do call for shorter build-up and tear-down windows for the track build up. Additionally, they call for less detriment to normal traffic patterns. The biggest piece of contingency, though, is within the three-year deal that Lightfoot originally agreed to with NASCAR….

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