Want to test drive the NASCAR street race course? Crews wrapping up downtown repaving

Crews began laying the new, nearly pitch-black pavement this month. The repaving will be completed in the next week, along with welding down manhole covers along the course.

SHARE Want to test drive the NASCAR street race course? Crews wrapping up downtown repaving
NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace drives a stock car around downtown Chicago after the announcement that NASCAR will hold a race in the city each year for three years, starting in 2023, Tuesday afternoon, July 19, 2022. The 2.2-mile showcase represents the first street course race in NASCAR’s 75-year history.

NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace drives a stock car around downtown Chicago in July 2022. Crews are repaving streets around Grant Park for the course.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

In a little over six weeks, the tranquil gardens around Grant Park will be overcome with the roar of NASCAR stock cars in the racing company’s first street race.

And as Chicago crews finish repaving the streets in preparation for the July 1-2 races, regular Joes will get a chance to drive along the soon-to-be official race course.

The new, nearly pitch-black pavement began to be laid earlier this month when crews with the Chicago Department of Transportation closed down Columbus Drive May 2 — a temporary road closure that was unexpected for most Chicago drivers, who were told in April that Columbus would not close until June 25.

The repaving will be completed in the next couple days, CDOT spokeswoman Erica Schroeder said Thursday. But crews still have to weld down manhole covers along the course, she said.

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

A map of the route for the NASCAR race planned for July 1-2.

City of Chicago

For those interested in testing out the 2.2 mile, 12-turn course — and those willing to obey traffic signals — begin driving south along Columbus Drive, directly west of Buckingham Fountain, where you’ll find the starting line.

The first turn is a hard left onto Balbo Drive, and then a short sprint to DuSable Lake Shore Drive. After a 90-degree right turn, the course sees its first two soft turns, two consecutive rights along the Museum Campus, before another hard right back onto Columbus.

After turning on Balbo and right onto Michigan Avenue, prepare for a right turn into the half-circle along East Congress Plaza Drive. Jog back onto Michigan, turn right onto Jackson, and then it’s the final stretch after the last turn back onto Columbus.

NASCAR said it expects around 100,000 spectators to attend the two days of races.

The most significant closure will likely be the six days that southbound DuSable Lake Shore Drive is blocked from 10 p.m. June 28 until after race weekend, from Monroe to McFetridge Drive.

The Latest
Jai’mani Amir Rivera was fatally shot about 3 p.m. Tuesday near his home in the 2300 block of West Jackson Boulevard.
As the Sky snap four-game losing skid, Reese finished with 16 points, 18 rebounds — 10 on the defensive glass — three assists and two steals against the Wings on Thursday afternoon.
If we had any sense as a culture, we’d recognize that putting smartphones in the hands of children and adolescents makes about as much sense as handing out whiskey sours in the school cafeteria.
“People are going to say what they’re going to say,” Mabrey said. “Maybe people agree that they should have traded for me, and maybe they shouldn’t have. I know my value.”
“As much as it sucks to get married in the middle of a cicada awakening, it is definitely memorable,” said Bree Aguilar, who had an outdoor ceremony earlier this month.