NASCAR Chicago street race presents new challenges to drivers, race car engineers

John Garcia Image
Tuesday, June 20, 2023
Chicago NASCAR street race presents new challenges for drivers
NASCAR race car engineers will have to adjust the cars suspensions to handle the bumpy ride on city streets and turns in either direction as opposed to an oval where they just turn

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The first street race in NASCAR's history is presenting some new challenges to drivers and the people who engineer their race cars.

"There's a lot of fascinating things about a road course that's different than ovals," said Mike Beltran of Northwestern University.

FULL GUIDE: See the Chicago NASCAR street race course, plus street closures and parking restrictions

Beltran said the street race will not only test drivers, but engineers who will have to adjust the cars' suspension to handle the bumpy ride on city streets and the turn in either direction, as opposed to an oval where they just turn left.

The Chicago course through Grant Park will also feature elevation changes when drivers go over a bridge just before approaching a turn.

Former world champion Formula One driver Jenson Button said it will be challenging.

"It's gonna be a big learning curve for everyone. There's no room for error," Button said.

A week ago, Button raced with a team in the 24 hours of Le Mans, a completely different experience than what he expects to face in Chicago. He said he expects it to be a great challenging with varying speeds, lots of turns and contact between race cars allowed.

"I think we can put on a great show. That's what this race is really going to be about," Button said.

A week ago, Northwestern students designed and raced their own car designed like a race car, demonstrating the challenges of not only getting power and speed, but also maximizing the aerodynamics and getting the suspension just right.

"Suspension has to be able to handle bumps. If it's too hard you'll shoot yourself into space. It it's too soft you won't be able to take turns fast without the car rolling over," Beltran said.

While most Northwestern students are off for the summer and not able to be at the race, they'll study the race in the fall, picking up what they can, and some may eventually be working on those cars themselves.