Jun 30, 2023 - Sports

NASCAR tries something new with Chicago street race

nascar in chicago

Photo: Quinn Harris/Getty Images

If you're a fan of auto racing but don't love NASCAR's standard oval tracks, you'll want to check out this weekend's race in Chicago.

State of play: NASCAR is holding a street race for the first time in its 75-year history, as 37 drivers will wind their way through the Windy City for Sunday's historic event.

  • The Grant Park 220 will take drivers on 100 laps of the 12-turn, 2.2-mile course through downtown Chicago.
  • Fun fact: The Chicago Street Course covers a portion of the course that was used for America's first auto race, on Thanksgiving Day in 1895.

Between the lines: Drivers may face challenges that weren't an issue 128 years ago.

  • Heat: Cars will use mufflers to mitigate noise pollution after residents voiced concerns. But mufflers can add extra heat inside the car, which can already reach upward of 130 degrees.
  • Lack of preparation: Teams normally have plenty of practice time before races, but road closures only just began. A different course format paired with limited preparation could spell trouble.

The big picture: This unique event is the latest move by NASCAR to diversify its product. They also built a temporary track inside the L.A. Coliseum and revived an iconic track in North Carolina that had sat dormant for nearly three decades.

The last word: "We haven't done anything like [this] before," driver Ryan Blaney told NBC Chicago. "Part of me is nervous … but I think it's going to be a hell of an event."

ğŸŽ¥ Watch: Turn-by-turn tour of the course (YouTube)

Go deeper