NASCAR street race, Rolex US Sail Grand Prix to bring large crowds, global spotlight to Chicago

John Garcia Image
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Summer NASCAR, sailing races to bring attention to city
Organizers of the Chicago NASCAR street race and Rolex U.S. Sail Grand Prix aim to market the city as an ideal venue for global events.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two high-profile races coming to Chicago for the first time this summer are expected to draw in big crowds and put the city on the world stage.

Simulated video provided by NASCAR shows what race cars will look like zooming down the streets of downtown Chicago and DuSable Lake Shore Drive at more than 100 miles an hour.

RELATED | NASCAR tweaks downtown Chicago street race plans to address residents' concerns

A race like this has never been done before. In fact, the downtown race on the first weekend in July is the first-ever street race in NASCAR'S 75-year history.

There was an update Wednesday from NASCAR and Sail Grand Prix officials.

"We've got a lot of new fans experiencing NASCAR for the first time, and to be able to do it in this unique setting we've never done before, it's very special," NASCAR Chicago Street Course President Julie Giese said.

The race features 12 turns as it winds around Grant Park and through parts of the Loop. Organizers expect about 100,000 fans for two days of racing in July.

Chicago is also an unusual location for the Rolex U.S. Sail Grand Prix, which typically races in oceanfront cities. However, this year, Chicago will be the first stop on the worldwide tour for the sport.

"It's really an awesome event even if you don't know much about sailing," said Cooper Dressler, a crew member for one of the sailing teams participating in the race. "It's fun to come down for."

The end of Navy Pier will be transformed with grandstands added to hold about 35,000 fans. Many more fans will be on boats on the water to watch the race.

The sailing race kicks off a summer of racing in Chicago, with the NASCAR street race coming two weeks later. City leaders hope they will market Chicago around the world.

"The visuals from our two races broadcast around the world will highlight the beauty of our city like nothing else could," Chicago Match Race Center Director Tod Reynolds said.