Home » The Chicago NASCAR Street Race Could Be Bonkers And You Should Definitely Watch It

The Chicago NASCAR Street Race Could Be Bonkers And You Should Definitely Watch It

Nascar Chicago Mcd
ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago will be hosting its first ever street race today and tomorrow and, after walking the track and talking to drivers, I’m convinced might be absolutely wild. “It gets really wide and then it gets really narrow” is how NASCAR’s Parker Kligerman described it at our reader meetup last night. I think this is going to be a lot of fun.

In my career as a car journalist and automotive filmmaker I’ve been to countless race tracks and events, including street races. I’ve never quite seen anything like the race that Chicago has planned. There’s something about the scale of NASCAR itself, the layout of the track, and the incongruity of it all that’s got me super psyched.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

We’re going to see cars that have never raced on anything close to this kind of pavement on a city layout that is nothing like any road course they use. I went to Eldora Speedway in Ohio when NASCAR first started experimenting with dirt racing and, honestly, I think this whole experience is going to be an even greater experience delta for everyone involved.

Here’s an example:Photo

Even the smallest NASCAR facilities have pretty traditional setups for haulers and garages. Here, in Chicago, they have one half of Lake Shore Drive shut down to traffic and just have the big car haulers sitting in what used to be traffic. As I took this one of the crew members inquired to another driver ‘Hey Jimmy, you seen The Bean yet?’

ADVERTISEMENT

I was in Montreal last weekend for the F1 race and that’s a quasi-street circuit like Belle Isle in Detroit, where IMSA and Indy Car used to run up until very recently. Those tracks have been in operation for a long time and, while they’re not traditional road courses, the infrastructure has been iteratively improved and optimized. Everything makes sense. In Chicago, walking around the track with friends we found:

Nascar Chicago Tires

A tire forest! Just some trees. Growing in the park. And then an 18-wheeler nesting in the allée.

Nascar 18wheeler

My friend joked that if we come back in a couple of weeks we’re going to find a few little baby 18-wheelers.

ADVERTISEMENT

Nascar Chicago Musuem

Here’s the fantastic Art Institute of Chicago (you know, where the kids walk across the art holding hands in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”), which is being used as the media area as well as the driver’s lounge. I played a game where I asked everyone if there’s ever been a NASCAR race closer to a world class art museum. There has not, but credit to NBC’s Kim Coon for pointing out the Milwaukee Mile is only about seven miles from the better-than-you-would-guess Milwaukee Art Museum. Similarly, my friend Amy mentioned that the stellar Kimball Art Museum and also pretty great Amon Carter reside just 25 miles from Texas Motor Speedway.

All of these things are novel, but here are the reasons why I think this race is going to be particularly strange and fun:

The Chicago Track Is Going To Be Difficult

Chicago Nascar Street Map

Here’s the layout of the track, which manages to squeeze in about 11 corners into just 2.2 miles. A lot of these are right angles, which aren’t necessarily great for passing, but they open up into super wide sections where there are plenty of places to pass that collapse into the narrowest sections that NASCAR has probably ever raced on. One driver described it as the love-child of the Toronto and ill-fated Houston Indy Car tracks.

ADVERTISEMENT

The upside of this is I suspect we’ll see some insane moves. The downside is there’s a definite risk, a la the first Nashville Indy Car race, of drivers colliding at the narrow sections and causing a red flag, which stops the race temporarily.

Half The Cars Are Not Designed For This

Nascar Spiked CoolersNASCAR runs two different cars (and a truck, technically, but the trucks aren’t here). The ‘Next Gen’ cars that run in the higher level Cup series are quite modern race cars similar to what you’d find in Aussie V8 Supercars and DTM. They’re going to do fine here.

The Xfinity cars (that’s the more junior series) are exactly what you’d think a NASCAR stock car is like if you know nothing about the sport. They are designed, primarily, for ovals, with brakes that aren’t built for all this braking and a suspension not designed for a lot of bumps. Watching drivers in the Xfinity series trying to wrangle these cars around 55 laps of this thing could be great. Oh, and it might rain during their race.

Did I Mention How Pit Row Is Setup?

The pits at the street circuit comes right off a tight right-hander and, as we were standing there yesterday, a few people were remarking that, ahem, it might be fairly easy to bump someone into pit-in, forcing them into an unplanned pit stop. I can’t wait to see that.

Chaos Is Good

Nascar MeetupOne of the drivers I spoke with sort of casually noted that, while most people in the sport are used to street courses from the many other series that run them, NASCAR can be a little slow to adapt. That’s fair, but I’d also note that the sport has been willing to try a lot of new things lately. Some of these make great parties (Clash at the Colosseum) and some make great racing (Charlotte Roval). I’m not sure which of these the NASCAR street race is going to be, but I’m excited to find out.

ADVERTISEMENT

Also, we’ve already had a great party because our reader meetup yesterday at Portillo’s was great! Thanks to everyone who came.

How To Watch

UPDATE: Here’s how to watch the first race, which was postponed due to lightning:

 

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
44 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Vanillasludge
Vanillasludge
11 months ago

Moment of the race: When the post race interviewer clearly didn’t know that for shane van gisbergen winning this race was like getting a few extra fry’s at the bottom of the bag.

The dude is a legend in a much more competitive race series than NASCAR.

Yes I Drive A 240
Yes I Drive A 240
11 months ago

Aside from the rain delay, it ended up being a solid race with a surprise finish.

Sammy B
Sammy B
11 months ago

Cleveland GP at Burke Lakefront is just under 8 miles from the very good Cleveland Museum of Art.

I usually tune in for NASCAR’s road races and this one was pretty good. Maybe even good enough to get me to go to Chicago next year and see it in person!

Acrimonious Mofo
Acrimonious Mofo
11 months ago

So if they ever do this course again they need to name turn 6 “Graggson’s Bane”.

Also, give these cars headlights. That the race had to be shortened “due to sunset” is kind of hilarious.

Last edited 11 months ago by Acrimonious Mofo
Pisco Sour
Pisco Sour
11 months ago

Anyone that grew up as a Cubs fan in the 80s or before knows this!

Loren
Loren
11 months ago

A great race w/ a surprise ending. Kudos to Chicago -and- NASCAR.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
11 months ago
Reply to  Loren

Not to mention Noah Graggson’s comic relief, both intentional and not.

Zipn Zipn
Zipn Zipn
11 months ago

I’ve never been a fan of street races (perhaps they’re fun if you’re there). Too much concrete = conservative racing. Give me a proper road course with nice elevation changes, some challenging turns and lots of room for side-by-side trading paint.

Yes I Drive A 240
Yes I Drive A 240
11 months ago
Reply to  Zipn Zipn

I’m guessing you didn’t watch it, there was nothing conservative about this race.

Zipn Zipn
Zipn Zipn
11 months ago

I should have added “hope this is the exception to the rule” – I guess it was. Maybe the rain helped 🙂

Chi_spotting
Chi_spotting
11 months ago

The rain was definitely bonkers!

Old Busted Hotness
Old Busted Hotness
11 months ago

Well, I watched the Xfinity race until it was halted by lightning in the area. Supposed to resume tomorrow at 11 on USA, if anyone wants to catch the end of it.

One thing I’ve noticed since the Next Gen car came along: The best of the Xfinity cars/drivers are as fast as the Cup cars. That was until Hamlin put down his monster qualifying time. The fast cars in both series qualified in the 1:29 range. I’m gonna guess this is because the Next Gen car has more aero drag. With the old Cup cars there was a noticeable gap between them and the Xfinity cars.

Track looks bumpy as hell and way too narrow in places, but it’s that way for everyone. The first half of the Xfinity race was a parade, not much passing. But the second half could turn into a demolition derby. Lots of hard crashes in quali for both series.

With the weather delay, though, might as well debate the Civil War…

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
11 months ago

I was planning to watch the Xfinity race to root for Parker after meeting him last night, but I could not find it on Peacock. I found the listing for the cup race tomorrow, but nothing for Xfinity :/

Greg
Greg
11 months ago

Well I don’t know about the drama in the room here. But I do know me and my toddler daughter had a good time watching a city race and the cars go vroom vroom while she fights off a fever. I dont watch nascar regularly or really ever, but this sounded fun and provided some nice shots from the lake. Almost makes the city look like a place you might want to visit.

Luckily we didn’t get shot, or inducted into the KKK. My wife did give me the stink eye because I wasn’t focused on my 10 month old while she was making some food though.

Last edited 11 months ago by Greg
DadBod
DadBod
11 months ago
Reply to  Greg

Almost makes the city look like a place you might want to visit.”
is this a riff on the right wing fearmongering about Chicago? Because Chicago is an awesome city that is awesome to both visit and live in. It’s also a linchpin of American industrial and cultural history if you are, y’know, patriotic and stuff.

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
11 months ago
Reply to  Greg

The city is a great place to visit! Ignore all of the silly headlines about how you’ll get killed the second you get within city limits. The city isn’t even ranked in the top 15 for most dangerous. There are countless museums, tours, escape rooms, restaurants, and oh so much history to take in.

That said, it’s crazy hard to be a car enthusiast and live in the Chi. It already costs $400+ to title and register a car in this state and Chicago tacks on its own fees that make it closer to a grand. Plus, the rent suuuuucks. That’s why I live outside of the city.

Greg
Greg
11 months ago

You folks are partially confusing my point! I won’t deny that I haven’t seen fear mongering over all the shootings there, but I mainly just don’t like cities. So by saying “might want to visit” I meant that literally. It looked so good I almost wanted to go there. But then I remembered the process of getting there, the amount of people that would be there when I got there, and realized it wasn’t happening.

I live in a very rural area, by choice and I like animals more than most people. There are very few placed this populated I would ever visit willingly, and sadly, Chicago isn’t in the top 10. Chicago did look beautiful with the big sky scrapers on the edge of the lake, clear skies while mine were covered in Canadian smoke, it truly looked like it might be nice to visit, but I won’t be!….but I will be watching again today as my daughter is still sick!

Last edited 11 months ago by Greg
DadBod
DadBod
11 months ago

This set up is like a bicycle stage race, where teams make do with whatever infrastructure is available at the finish. Pretty cool. I’m no fan of NASCAR but fast cars hauling ass around Chicago is something I wouldn’t mind seeing.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
11 months ago

“Chicago will be hosting its first ever street race today…”

Chicago’s first street race was held a while ago, in 1895:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Times-Herald_race

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

Fantastic details in that: thanks, mdharrell!
Details like the fact that two of the six entrants were stopped by police on their way into the city and informed that they couldn’t lawfully drive their machines in it. Those two had to ‘requisition horses to pull the cars because….they had no right to drive their vehicles on city streets’
Only two vehicles finished the race—one of which finished it driven by an ‘umpire’ (of the race) because the actual driver had become unconscious due to exposure. It was 34°, and these were open carriages.

We’ve come a long way, baby!

Jim Nutt
Jim Nutt
11 months ago

Phoenix International is about 20 miles from the Phoenix Art Museum.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
11 months ago

Rain rain, stay away, come again another day. Seriously, please.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
11 months ago

NASCAR at Watkins Glen is always entertaining. Considering how narrow that track is, anyone with experience there should be okay. No hills to worry about either.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
11 months ago

With the haulers positioned right along a still open to traffic Lake Shore Drive, there was a cool little thing the other day – an inevitable fender bender on the road, but then…NASCAR to the rescue!

Apparently, mechanics from what looks like at least Jimmy Johnson’s team (Jimmy’s news sucks for sure) came over and fixed up the cars in the accident so they could move again and get out of the way.

I grew up in the midwest, which at the time meant open wheel racing was the thing. I later moved south for work, and was exposed to NASCAR for the first time. It’s impressive to me how much it’s evolved and changed over the years to become a truly American racing series. I love it.

I know that’s upsetting to some who view it primarily as a cultural totem, but I wish they’d instead be be proud of something that went from being a regional affair to something that captivates people across the entire country. That’s no easy feat in a country like this.

And go Team Penske! Though I’ll admit I always root for the Wood Brothers’ team and driver, no matter how improbable, b/c how can you not like that history?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

I wonder since it is on city roads i might drive into pit road get a quick fill up, new set of tires and my windshield washed and be gone before they realize my car isnt a race car.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
11 months ago

Thanks for telling us where & when to watch. ‘A NASCAR street race. In Chicago’ is as unlikely a statement as me saying that I’m going to make a point of watching some of this, but here we are.

Being adjacent to NASCAR country, and working amongst fans, a couple of things come to mind. First, wearing or displaying the Stars & Bars may well be unhealthy as a fair few residents’ parents / grandparents moved north to avoid (the worst of) what that flag represents — and the ‘Heritage Not Hate’ bumper sticker is unlikely to give you a pass on that.

Which leads to the observation that Chi-town has had a lot of problems with gun violence, and, while not (mostly) outright illegal, carrying a gun there will certainly not be as casually accepted as it is in, say, Charlotte NC. I’m going by the stereotype here: I’m sure there are plenty of fans who don’t have the hate flag or firearms. It’s just that I don’t think I’ve ever met one in person And I remember the furor when NASCAR officially banned that flag from its events/venues.

Ugh: I went on way too long—again.
Sorry

Mr. Frick
Mr. Frick
11 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

“I’m going by the stereotype here”

Chronometric
Chronometric
11 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

When you go straight to demonization of those whom you don’t understand or approve of, you are part of the problem.

John Galt
John Galt
11 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Well, maybe they shouldn’t be proud of their loser traitor’s flag.
The entire purpose of the C.S.A was to have a heavily centralized state that would permanently enshrine the white supremacy and the inherited (as in you can NEVER be free) chattel slavery of anyone with one drop of African blood.

Not sure that people who choose the idolatry of that particular form of government are worth “understanding.”

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago
Reply to  John Galt

No the CSA was for states rights and the union that also didnt care about slaves rights wanted the federal government to control all the states. If you are going to spout off at least be correct.

John Galt
John Galt
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

This is how you know The Autopian community is a good one. Even our best troll is just phoning it in.

notoriousDUG
notoriousDUG
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Started right to what?

2cv8
2cv8
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

The CSA was for states’ rights… to own slaves.

Below is a link to the articles of secession for South Carolina, the first state to secede. It’s pretty straightforward. Perhaps you should read it.

https://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_scarsec.asp

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Dave of the tacotruck,

What 2cv8 said. Did you perhaps go to school in the South? I did HS here (well, South-light: SW Virginia), and they pushed the ‘states rights’ line back in the ‘80s —without bothering to teach the Cornerstone Speech

Quote:
Our new government[‘s]…foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.
End quote [Wikipedia]

Seems clear to me.
Apologies, people. I’m not trying to fight the Culture War here. This part is not debatable-it IS history

Extremely-Good-Opinions
Extremely-Good-Opinions
11 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

people are really demonizing me for my “keep black people enslaved” flag

notoriousDUG
notoriousDUG
11 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Please explain to me what is being unfairly demonized and how?

DadBod
DadBod
11 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Dude, no. There’s no “both sides” here. I’m from the South and disapproving of and demonizing racists is actually part of the solution.

notoriousDUG
notoriousDUG
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

That is going to be partially self-selection and also I think you are far less likely to see the ‘shitkicker’ mentality in people who work for or directly with NASCAR and more in the fan base. Probably fans you don’t meet due to not being a goon.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

There are far more racists in BLM than in NASCAR.

notoriousDUG
notoriousDUG
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Can you please explain that conclusion to me?

Eric Smith
Eric Smith
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

You could try to explain what you meant by such an obviously weak-sauce trolling statement, but I doubt you’ve actually spent the time to try to think independently long enough to parse those words and realize you should probably step away from the keyboard.

We certainly don’t need to just ‘stick to cars’ here, but you don’t need to try to make every single space you visit a battle ground in your insanely ignorant culture war. GTFOH with that stuff, 4chan would love to have you.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

Please note that I said absolutely nothing about any fan’s behavior: I did not demonize them in any way. I simply extrapolated from having worked down Martinsville/Danville way and noting that any vehicle displaying a NASCAR sticker will almost certainly have an NRA /firearms manufacturer sticker on it. Quite often a pattern referencing the hate flag as well-or just the Heritage not Hate one.

I work amongst the Good Old Boys in the blue collar mechanical trades, and get that, to many of them, it’s just that regional pride in grit & independence due to Scots/Irish ancestry. Most claim ‘states rights’ and that they’ve never heard of the Cornerstone Speech—but none so far have been willing to read it when I offered to send a link. You draw your conclusions, and I’ll draw mine about that.

In my very limited experience with people actually in the industry, I agree. The two I met were absolutely professional —and neither’s vehicle had any stickers whatsoever on it.

I regret having brought it up. And having missed watching the action as I spent most of the weekend out driving myself.

...getstoneyII
...getstoneyII
11 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Lighten up, Francis. It’s a bunch of cars going vroom-vroom. We aren’t exactly rewriting the Constitution this weekend. sheesh.

Last edited 11 months ago by ...getstoneyII
44
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x