NASCAR to use mufflers in Chicago, keep lakefront accessible

NASCAR tweaked its Chicago street race plan after meeting with residents who live near the 2.2-mile racecourse.

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Stock cars set up in downtown Chicago.

Stock cars set up in downtown Chicago in advance of the announcement that NASCAR will hold a race in the city each year for three years.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

With roughly 50 days until downtown Chicago becomes a NASCAR track, officials have made a few tweaks to their plan for the city’s inaugural street race.

Residents who live near the 2.2-mile racecourse voiced their concerns at a meeting with NASCAR officials in April.

And in response, NASCAR says it will limit car noise, keep access to the Lakefront Trail open to pedestrians — by way of Monroe Street and Roosevelt Road — and set aside some green space for public access during the racing festival’s weekend activities.

Preliminary street closures for the July 1-2 events will begin June 10 near Grant Park.

But NASCAR Chicago Street Race President Julie Giese said after incorporating feedback from park neighbors, most of those closures won’t begin until the week of June 25.

“We were able to reduce our course build schedule by about a week from when we initially started planning,” Giese told the Chicago Park District board during its meeting Wednesday.

“There’s also ongoing access for both vehicles and pedestrians to [the] Museum Campus [and] a lot of the viewing areas are alongside the street, which really allowed us to be mindful of the build schedule and make sure that we provide as much access to the green space in the park as possible throughout the build as well as the teardown.”

After downtown residents expressed concerns about noise volume during the festival, Giese said NASCAR will limit its on-track events — which means no noise from vehicles, fans or musical performances before 10 a.m. or after 10 p.m.

“Our NASCAR Cup Series cars will be running mufflers for this event,” Giese told the board. “This is something that has only been done in one other race in an effort to continue to mitigate the sound.”

Some institutions in the museum campus around the park had expressed concerns about noise and vibrations.

But the Shedd Aquarium told the Sun-Times Thursday the mufflers definitely will make a difference.

“Given the information provided from NASCAR related to their noise-reducing mufflers, we do not anticipate any negative noise or vibration impacts on our facility or to our animals,” Shedd Aquarium spokesman Johnny Ford said in an email Thursday.

NASCAR officials say since last November they’ve conducted over 100 meetings with community members who live near the track.

Giese said they’ll continue to solicit community feedback and post any updates to the planning schedule on the website for the event.

Contributing: David Struett, Chicago Sun-Times

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

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