By Amy Simonson, CNN
Downtown Chicago will host the first-ever NASCAR Cup Series street-course race next July, NASCAR officials, drivers and Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Tuesday.
“Really thrilled to announce that for the first time with our National Series, we’ll be bringing it to a street course, and what better place to do that than downtown Chicago, such an iconic city,” Ben Kennedy , NASCAR’s senior vice president of race development and strategy, said in a press release.
As NASCAR’s 75th anniversary approaches, Kennedy said there has never been a street course in the top-level series. “It’s a monumental day in the history of our sport,” he said.
The 2.2-mile course will include Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue. It was the first part of online racing in the eNASCAR Pro Invitational series last year.
Lightfoot, who attended a panel with NASCAR officials Tuesday in downtown Chicago, said it was a unique opportunity to bring the auto racing series to the city and could be “the course of most iconic race of all time”.
“I think the excitement is going to be off the charts now. People are really going to be looking forward to July 2023 when the cars hit the streets here,” she said.
The race has been set for July 2, 2023. It replaces a race at the Road America course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, although Kennedy said the race may return to that track one day.
Metro Chicago hosted a NASCAR race every year — from 2001 to 2019 — at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet. There was also a Cup race at Soldier Field in 1956.
Two lower-tier NASCAR circuits have already held some street racing. The Southwest Tour hosted events in Los Angeles in 1998-2000 and Spokane and Tacoma, Washington each saw two races in the 1980s.
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