Robert Chanick, Chicago Tribune
CHICAGO — The soundtrack to the inaugural NASCAR Chicago Street Race, which is set to turn Grant Park into a pop-up racetrack over the Fourth of July weekend, will have more than screeching tires and roaring engines.
In addition to 200-mile-per-hour racing cars, the two-day event will feature full-fledged concerts ranging from country to electronic dance, headlined by Miranda Lambert, The Chainsmokers and the Black Cruisers, NASCAR announced Wednesday.
NASCAR expects 100,000 attendees to take part in a Lollapalooza-like festival designed to “reimagine the NASCAR experience in the heart of downtown Chicago,” Julie Geese, president of Chicago Street Race, said in a press release.
Scheduled for July 2, the televised Cup Series event will feature a 12-turn, 2.2-mile racetrack, with top NASCAR drivers weaving in and around Grant Park on enclosed streets lined with temporary fences, grandstands and hospitality pavilions. Texas singer-songwriter Charlie Crockett will open for country star Lambert before the race.
A separate race of the Xfinity Series, the second level of NASCAR competition, is scheduled for July 1. Southern rock band The Black Crowes, best known for their 1990 covers of “Hard to Handle,” will take to the stage after the qualifying rounds, while The Chainsmokers, an electronic dance music duo, will play after the first day’s race run.
Two-day general admission tickets, which include races and concerts, start at $269 and go on sale February 2.
In November, NASCAR began selling tickets reserved for two days starting at $465. The premium club seats are much higher. Top of the list are makeshift hospitality suites perched above pit road, with President’s Paddock Club tickets costing more than $3,000 each.
NASCAR has signed a three-year deal to turn the suburbs of Grant Park into a racetrack. Under the terms of the agreement, NASCAR will pay the Chicago Park District permit fees of $500,000 this year, $550,000 in 2024 and $605,000 in 2025, with an option to renew for two years. In addition, NASCAR will pay the Park District a $2 per ticket admission fee, and progressive commission starting at 15% for food, beverages, and merchandise sold at the event.
The course will start on Columbus Drive in front of Buckingham Fountain, an area that will also serve as pit road. From there, drivers will turn south on Balbo Drive and then turn east on DuSable Lake Shore Drive. Drivers head south along the lake, turn west on Roosevelt Road, and return north on Columbus Road in a rough figure-eight that takes a piece of South Michigan Avenue before reaching the start/finish line.
NASCAR has full access to the racetrack area for the nine days before the event and three days after the event. But the total starting window — the process of building and dismantling temporary facilities — lasts a full month, starting three weeks before the race weekend, according to the agreement.