Chicago soon to be road racing capital of America?
Loop North News

The Home Front

Photo by Fabio Pagani

Just as the emperors gave Romans spectacles in the Colosseum to distract them from increasing taxes, Chicago’s mayor is giving us the NASCAR Cup Series Street Race.

25-Jul-22 – Based on the recently announced master plan of our revered, visionary Mayor Lori “Street Smart” Lightfoot, Chicago soon may be known as the NASCAR motor racing capital of America.

The plan to turn downtown city streets, avenues, and boulevards into a 2.2-mile road-racing circuit is pure genius. Imagine those decal-covered, souped-up muscle cars burning rubber and zooming around Grant Park at straightaway speeds of up to 130 miles per hour!

With engines roaring, professional drivers would downshift through 12 challenging 90-degree turns that normally would earn average Chicagoans hefty speeding tickets for exceeding six MPH over the 30 MPH limit.

Of course, current plans include closing off street traffic for the July 2, 2023, event and the racecar pits would be anchored on Columbus Drive in front of Buckingham Fountain. Temporary fences will be installed and grandstands built to provide front row seating for thousands of cheering Chicagoans.

Wikimedia Commons

Downtown festival tradition will call for all 16-inch softball league championship games in Grant Park to be cancelled because they conflict with Chicago’s new racing platform.

Wikimedia Commons

Post-race activities will include food venues, rock music, and plenty of entertainment, all designed to boost the city’s hotel and hospitality industries and generate tourism revenue.

The historic weekend event, in which the City of Chicago and NASCAR are partners under a three-year agreement, also would include an International Motor Sports Association-sanctioned series race on July 1, 2023. The July 2 premier race is one of 36 nationwide events on the NASCAR Cup Series.

As nutty as the event sounds, historians say the proposed race is not the first NASCAR event to be held in Chicago. In July 1956, A NASCAR Cup Series race event was held at Soldier Field. And, in the early 1980s the late Mayor Jane Byrne proposed a Formula One Race on Lake Shore Drive. That race never materialized.

Our street smart mayor says the race event excitement is “off the charts.” At a recent press conference, she called the course “one of the most iconic ever.”

Photo by Zach Catanzareti

NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace (left), who plans to drive his Toyota Camry in the race, called the Chicago event “exciting,” and he is looking forward to the challenge. Wallace’s racing team is sponsored by Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan.

Photo by Zach Catanzareti

Doesn’t all of this fanfare and spectacle remind you of the sporting events staged by Roman emperors in the Colosseum to distract the crowds while taxes were increased and collected for foreign wars? Think of the chariot races in the movie Ben Hur.

Since this writer is a Chicago homeowner who pays his share of real estate taxes, it is only fair that we contribute ideas for the first annual Chicago Street Smart Awards and turn the July 1-2, 2023, weekend into a signature annual Windy City event open to all of the city’s most skilled automobile drivers:

• Best Donut Spinners and Drifters. This award is designed to honor the daredevils who recently were highlighted on the 10 p.m. TV news. Apparently, they get an adrenalin rush from drag racing and “drifting,” which is the art of doing donut spinners in West Loop and Goose Island intersections at 4 a.m.

Last week, the Chicago City Council wisely passed an ordinance giving police the power to impound cars owned by donut spinners and slap them with a $2,000 fine. The penalty would be added to the city’s existing drag racing fines, which are $5,000 to $10,000, plus a $500 towing fee.



• The Dan Ryan Hot Wheels Award. This coveted citation would honor those muscle car speeders who consistently exceed 100 MPH on the Dan Ryan Expressway, which has a 55 MPH speed limit. The Illinois State Police are responsible for controlling expressway speeders and will be handing out the award.

Thankfully, a new state law, which goes into effect in 2023, prohibits “street sideshows.” Street racing and blocking or impeding traffic will be illegal on all state roads, including the Dan Ryan, Eisenhower expressway, and the Du Sable Lake Shore Drive.

The penalty for blocking intersections will be a $250 fine and up to one year in jail. The fine for street racing will be $500, and felony charges for more serious offenses.

• Most Challenging Pothole. This award targets city drivers who skillfully dodge the deepest potholes identified by the mayor’s survey, which currently has counted more than 30,000 asphalt divots in our roadways.

Photo by Don DeBat

Chicagoans, rev up your engines!

• Contact Don DeBat at


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