It has raced on paved ovals, road courses, and airports. It has raced on the beaches of Daytona. It has raced on many dirt tracks, including those usually reserved for horses. It has raced at stadium venues.
Now, NASCAR will be racing its premier series through the streets of Chicago. A special 2.2-mile, 12-turn course will be set up in the Windy City for its first-ever street course to take place over the July 1-2, 2023 weekend.
In recent years NASCAR had presented some racing with out-of-the-box events, and this Chicago race is certainly one of them, coming on the heels of the Busch Light Clash held at the Los Angeles Coliseum. This Cup race will be part of the 75th anniversary next year. A full IMSA sports car event will also be held in Chicago during the scheduled weekend.
Major sanctioned racing along metropolitan streets is very popular as fans can watch racing through familiar surroundings. The iconic through-the-streets Monaco Grand Prix is on everyone’s F1 bucket list. The NTT IndyCar races in Long Beach and Toronto are popular, as is the Trois-Rivieres Grand Prix which hosts road racing in several classes.
“Like the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum, we seized an incredible opportunity to add an unprecedented element to our schedule and take center stage in the heart of another major metropolitan market,” said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing development and strategy . “This is the ideal setting for the first-ever NASCAR Cup Series street race. The NASCAR Cup Series Next Gen cars and the IMSA machines will race along the shores of Lake Michigan in downtown Chicago, marking a truly historic moment for our sport.”
In its formative years, the majority of Cup racing was held on dirt ovals with a few exceptions such as the pavement of Darlington in South Carolina and part of the beach-road course at Daytona. The building of the Daytona Tri-Oval in 1959 ushered in the era of paved tracks. Stadium racing took place at Ascot in Los Angeles, Soldier Field in Chicago, Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition grounds, and Buffalo’s War Memorial Stadium. The only other Cup race in Canada besides the CNE event in 1958 was held on the horse racing track of Stamford Park in Niagara Falls in 1952.
While long, smooth and flat airport strips built for Second World War aircraft morphed into drag strips and road circuits, only one Cup race was held on such a facility. Driving a Jaguar, Al Keller won such an event in 1954 on the two-mile course set up on the Linden, NJ airport grounds.
Weekend Winners … Merrittville Speedway held its inaugural Grand Nationals Monday, and before the rain came, Mat Williamson of St. Catharines picked up the win in the 71-lap 358 Modified feature and Hagersville’s Dave Bailey won the Hoosier Stock feature … Bill Zardo started racing in 1962 and the Brampton veteran still has what it takes as he won the OSCAAR Hot Rod division feature at Peterborough Speedway , beating out Tom Walters of Toronto and Steve Book of Brantford … Feature winners at Ohsweken Speedway last Friday include Liam Martin of Binbrook in the 360 Sprint Cars, Ryan Beagle of Vittoria in Thunder Stock, while Doug Gordon took the Dirt Modified Nostalgia main over Hamilton’s Mark Shadwell … Two veteran racers split the NASCAR Pinty’s Series Leyland Industries Twin 125s at Sutherland Speedway in Saskatchewan with DJ Kennington of St. Thomas winning the first race and Quebec’s Alex Tagliani taking the second race. Treyten Lapcevich of Grimsby placed fifth in the first race and 17th in the second.