Here’s an overview of the twists and turns in Chicago’s NASCAR street race

For Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event, drivers will race 100 laps around the 2.2 mile course. Each lap of the course has 12 turns, seven of which are 90 degrees.

SHARE Here’s an overview of the twists and turns in Chicago’s NASCAR street race
Pedestrians 2023 NASCAR Chicago Street Race turn 8 South Michigan Avenue West Ida B. Wells Drive

Pedestrians cross the street Tuesday, as the city prepares for the 2023 NASCAR Chicago Street Race, near the course’s turn 8 at South Michigan Avenue and West Ida B. Wells Drive. This will be NASCAR’s first-ever street race, posing a challenge to veterans of oval track racing.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

NASCAR officials provided a tour of this weekend’s Chicago Street Race course, as well as the spots along the way where spectators will watch the races and enjoy other festivities.

Julie Giese, president of NASCAR’s Chicago Street Race, took reporters on a guided overview of most of the circuit via a double-decker bus. Some sections were still under construction.

NASCAR Chicago Street Race map

A map of the NASCAR Chicago Street Race course and different attractions for the race weekend on July 1-2, 2023.

NASCAR

“We are tremendously excited for this weekend. This is a huge opportunity for NASCAR and Chicago,” Giese said. “The team at NASCAR and the team with the city of Chicago has been working really hard to bring this event to life. It’s coming together very quickly, and it’s fun to be out here walking around.”

Each lap of the 2.2-mile course has 12 turns, seven of which are at 90 degrees. Grandstands and viewing suites line many of the course’s straightaways. For Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event, drivers will race 100 laps around the course.

2023 NASCAR Chicago Street Race course turn 12 East Jackson Drive South Columbus Drive

A man at East Jackson Drive and South Columbus Drive, turn 12 of the 2023 NASCAR Chicago Street Race course, watches preparations Tuesday.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The start and finish line will be on Columbus Drive between Jackson and Balbo Drives. The President’s Paddock Club, the most expensive section for spectators, is situated above the start and finish line and the area where the drivers will make pit stops.

Buckingham Fountain will become the “fan plaza,” where spectators can get food, beverages and merch. Across from the fountain on Jackson Drive will be the NASCAR Village, the only free area for the weekend. There will be interactive displays from NASCAR, the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry and more.

2023 NASCAR Chicago Street Race South Columbus Drive Buckingham Fountain

The city prepares for the 2023 NASCAR Chicago Street Race on South Columbus Drive near Buckingham Fountain on Tuesday.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The course is nothing like a standard oval NASCAR race track. In addition to the sharp turns, drivers have said they’re preparing for different types of pavement and elevation changes, like the bridge on Jackson Drive over the train tracks, Giese said.

In addition to those quirks, some of the drivers have more experience on street race circuits than their competitors. A.J. Allmendinger, for example, is a seasoned racer on road courses, Giese said.

“A.J. is someone who has done numerous street races; it’s what he did before NASCAR,” Giese said. “So his impression and how he’s looking at it is very different from someone who hasn’t done a street race. But they’re all competitors, so they’re looking at turns, they’re looking at where they can make passes.”

From the starting line, drivers will head south on Columbus Drive and turn left on Balbo Drive. They will then make a right on DuSable Lake Shore Drive. Along that section of the course is Hutchinson Field, which is where the weekend’s concert stage, Ferris wheel, food hall and general admission area will be.

Once drivers take the turn onto DuSable Lake Shore Drive, they will be on the fastest part of the course, Giese said, reaching speeds upwards of 100 mph. They will then turn right on Roosevelt Road and then a quick right on northbound Columbus Drive.

Bleachers South Michigan Avenue East Jackson Drive 2023 NASCAR Chicago Street Race

Bleachers are set up along South Michigan Avenue near East Jackson Drive as the city prepares for the 2023 NASCAR Chicago Street Race.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Drivers will then make a sharp left turn onto Balbo Drive and then a hard right on Michigan Avenue. From there, they will turn right onto Congress Plaza Drive and then drop back onto Michigan Avenue.

The course then makes a right onto Jackson Drive and a right on southbound Columbus Drive, bringing the drivers back to the starting line.

Spotters for the drivers, those responsible for helping the racers successfully navigate the course, are set up at three different points along the track. Spectators can tune into those conversations during the race via the NASCAR app, Giese said.

This race “is about showcasing the city,” Giese said, “and introducing NASCAR to a whole new set of fans.”

Despite chances of rain in the city Saturday and Sunday, expect the races to run on schedule as long as there is no lightning or standing water on the track.

Both races in Chicago could be pushed to Sunday or Monday if weather conditions are too severe.

Saturday, which features the Xfinity Series’ Loop 121 race at 4 p.m., calls for a likely chance of showers and thunderstorms beginning after 1 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

The Cup Series’ Grant Park 220, kicking off at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, could have a better chance of running on time. A slight chance of showers or thunderstorms is forecast, with skies becoming clearer in the evening.

Bleachers 2023 NASCAR Chicago Street Race turn 1 East Balbo Drive South Columbus Drive

Bleachers are shown Tuesday, as the city prepares for the 2023 NASCAR Chicago Street Race, near the course’s turn 1 at East Balbo Drive and South Columbus Drive.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Pedestrians Grant Park 2023 NASCAR Chicago Street Race South Lake Shore Drive East Roosevelt Road

Pedestrians walk through Grant Park on Tuesday as the city prepares for the 2023 NASCAR Chicago Street Race.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

2023 NASCAR Chicago Street Race South Columbus Drive Buckingham Fountain

The city prepares for the 2023 NASCAR Chicago Street Race on South Columbus Drive near Buckingham Fountain on Tuesday.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

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