NASCAR road closures will make for a bumpy ride for Chicago

The city, in detailing downtown road closures tied to NASCAR earlier this week, has us thinking the motor sport extravaganza feels more and more like a lemon. Get ready to make lemonade, Chicago.

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A map of the proposed route for the NASCAR race planned for July 2023.

A map of the proposed route for the NASCAR race planned for July 2023.

City of Chicago

The NASCAR plan has driven so many Chicagoans and City Council members up the wall ever since Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced last year the city would be hosting race for three years starting this summer.

Alderpersons remain irked that they were kept out of the loop during negotiations of the deal. Residents continue to express weariness over yet another private event that will render Grant Park off-limits to the public during the all-too-brief warm summer months.

The city has given assurances that more than half of Grant Park, including Buckingham Fountain, Butler Field and Lower Hutchinson Field, will be accessible during the setup and teardown of the July 1-2 races and music festival.

But that’s small consolation if traveling downtown will be a pain.



The city, in detailing road closures tied to NASCAR earlier this week, gave yet another reason why the motor sports extravaganza feels like a lemon. It’s raised the obvious question: Why did it take so long to be given a heads-up on what to expect traffic-wise.

Parking restrictions will start as early as June 2 on Columbus Drive between Jackson and Balbo drives, the Sun-Times’ David Struett reported. Eight days later, Ida B. Wells Drive will be closed east of Michigan Avenue to make way for the construction of the main viewing areas for the NASCAR festivities.

Most impacted will be southbound DuSable Lake Shore Drive, which will be blocked to motorists between Monroe to McFetridge Drive for six days starting at 10 p.m. on June 28.

Northbound DuSable Lake Shore Drive, meanwhile, will be closed for two days, from 4 a.m. July 1 to after the race on July 2.

Those are just a few of the NASCAR-related parking restrictions and closures that could put the brakes on the plans of Chicagoans as well as tourists who just want to savor other downtown sites and entertainment venues.

The inconvenience “will be significantly more extensive than what we were initially led to believe,” as Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) put it. “To have LSD closed during a prime summer time, when the Kennedy is under construction, it will have a cascading effect.”

Even when the racetrack walls and grandstands are dismantled well after the July Fourth weekend, drivers venturing downtown might not get too much relief — Lollapalooza organizers will begin their setup by that time.

Like a backseat driver, it’ll be hard not to complain. Get ready to make lemonade, Chicago.

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