Los Angeles Times

Chicago gets NASCAR race

- Staff and wire reports

NASCAR is bringing an unpreceden­ted street race to downtown Chicago next year during its 75th season in another radical change to its once-staid schedule.

“We want to be bold and innovative as we think about new venues and new concepts that we’re going to,” Ben Kennedy, the 30-yearold great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France, said Tuesday. “This is No. 1 on the list for us right now, and it’s certainly going to be the most anticipate­d event of our season.”

The Cup Series will race against the backdrop of Lake Michigan and Grant Park next July 2 as part of a three-year deal with the city of Chicago. It will be paired with an IMSA sports car race the day before, as well as music and entertainm­ent options located along the 12turn, 2.2-mile street course.

“The opportunit­y to bring something so unique as NASCAR to the city of Chicago, and I think it’s going to be one of those iconic race courses, we couldn’t pass up that opportunit­y,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a news conference.

The course will include Lake Shore Drive, Michigan Avenue and South Columbus Drive, where the start/ finish line and pit road will be located in front of Buckingham Fountain. It will pass through Grant Park and approach the northern edge of Soldier Field — site of the only other Cup Series race to take place in downtown Chicago, in 1956.

The announceme­nt comes after NASCAR’s successful January exhibition race inside the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

NASCAR last month confirmed the Coliseum would return next January, but the rest of the schedule has yet to be revealed. The Chicago street course will replace the road course race at Road America on the Cup schedule.

Road America in Wisconsin hosted the Cup Series the last two seasons on the same weekend. By moving to Chicago, NASCAR keeps a race in the Midwest region while returning to a coveted market. NASCAR ran 19 Cup races at Chicagolan­d Speedway in Joliet and tried to build interest in the market, even making it the opening race of the playoffs in 2011. But the track was simply too far from downtown to attract a new audience and NASCAR pulled out after the 2019 season.

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