NASCAR officially announced their plans to run a street course race in downtown Chicago, leaving fans with mixed responses.
From iRacing to reality: NASCAR will officially contest a street course race in downtown Chicago. Earlier this week, the sport held a press conference in the Windy City with Mayor Lori Lightfoot, CEO Steve Phelps, and 23XI Racing driver Bubba Wallace to talk in-depth about the 2023 event.
NASCAR held a virtual race on the streets of the Second City during the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series last year, leading to rumors that the event could become reality. Those rumors only picked up, and now the inevitable has arrived.
However, the reactions were less than pleasant and the reactions on social media to the press conference highlights the disdain for the new street course race.
Comments range from complaints about Road America being taken off the schedule to the location of downtown Chicago to the fact that tracks such as Chicagoland Speedway and Kentucky Speedway continue to be forgotten in favor of new locations.
Other newly added races designed by NASCAR’s Steve Phelps and Ben Kennedy have also led to mixed reviews. While the Busch Light Clash seemed to be a success in its first year at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway hasn’t exactly been the same in its first two.
Additional innovation led by the top decision-makers in the sport has led to negative reviews as well.
Last year, NASCAR broke a decades-long design tradition when they announced that they would be moving the car numbers forward on the new Gen 7 car. Adding a new design principle to a new generation car isn’t unheard of, as the Car of Tomorrow had the infamous wing as a rear spoiler.
But this didn’t stop fans from airing their grievances, with some going as far as threatening to quit watching the sport entirely.
Ironically enough, others argued that the numbers being moved forward wasn’t an issue, but that the entertainment factor overruling the sport of stock car racing was the main reason for their threats to quit watching.
And this very factor is what we’re seeing now.
Whether it’s the locations the sport is electing to visit to run races, the type of tracks they are utilizing to do so, or the general idea that the sport could be getting too much on the entertainment side, fans are airing their grievances louder and louder.
Naturally, the street course race really can’t be considered a success or failure until 2023. With an aging demographic and an ongoing attempt to find its touch with the next generation of race fans, NASCAR needed to try somethin. But it already doesn’t seem to be going according to plan.