City officials say they're prepared for Chicago NASCAR race, 4th of July weekend

Chicago police, fire say they're ready for added challenge of NASCAR closures

John Garcia Image
Wednesday, June 28, 2023
Downtown Chicago looking like a racetrack with NASCAR days away
Downtown Chicago is looking like a racetrack with NASCAR days away.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- They've been planning for months. And on Wednesday morning, Chicago officials said the city is ready for the NASCAR street race this weekend.

The Fourth of July holiday weekend is always a big challenge for first responders.

Huge crowds in the downtown area are the norm.

But with NASCAR added into the mix this weekend, it's shaping up to be a very different challenge for police and fire.

"We're always looking at our strategy and accommodating the type of crowds we have, and, as for the manpower, we'll have enough to deal with the crowds," interim CPD Superintendent Fred Waller said.

There are a lot of road closures in the downtown area, and around Grant Park in particular, that will create a number of challenges.

Navy Pier and the Museum Campus will remain open, and there are areas of the NASCAR village which will be open to the public without tickets as well.

NASCAR is expecting crowds of about 50,000 people both Saturday and Sunday for the races, concerts and other events.

Police and fire officials said they are prepared for the crowds, and will not leave the neighborhoods uncovered either.

Chicago OEMC gave a safety briefing Wednesday for this weekend's NASCAR event.

SEE MORE: How NASCAR in Chicago will affect the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium

NASCAR officials are also hiring some private security.

The police department has canceled days off.

"Our team, along with the city of Chicago, has been working for months on the plan for this weekend, and I feel like we are incredibly prepared, have a great plan in place," said Julie Giese, president of the NASCAR Street Race.

NASCAR officials also spoke on the possibility of severe weather over the weekend, and how that could affect the race.

They said the cars are equipped to be able to race in the event of rain, but if there is more severe weather, like lightning, they could potentially move the dates of the races to Sunday and Monday.

First responders are also making contingency plans for poor air quality; they're not expecting it, but are prepared for it.

A NASCAR Chicago Street Race hotline has been set up. The 888.629.7223 number will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Sunday. After 9 p.m. CST all calls will go to the voicemail box with a notification email that will be sent directly to a representative. When the Center re-opens in the morning, a representative will follow up.

Workers began the process Wednesday of assembling a 200-foot mural in Butler Field for the weekend.

It was created by teenagers with the After School Matters program in partnership with NASCAR.

The kids are all getting tickets to the race.

"It's really great to introduce our teens to NASCAR and get them excited about the sport," said Mallory Zapata, with After School Matters.

With just a couple days before the race, downtown Chicago is starting to look like a race course, and visitors say they are excited.

"Lot's of fun for sure. I mean, we know people are street racing, so why not have people come pay and watch?" suburban visitor Melissa Sang said.

NASCAR trucks carrying equipment are arriving on the scene.

They house the mobile offices and other equipment from city to city every week during the racing season.

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