NASCAR Race Planners Say Chicago Commuters Can Join Race if They Really Need to Get Somewhere

GRANT PARK — With the first annual NASCAR Chicago street race rapidly approaching, commuters are starting to feel the effects of street closures in advance of the race. In response to concerns that multiple streets will be completely blocked on race day, planners have assuaged drivers’ concerns by saying that anyone who really needs to get somewhere can join the race, as long as they promise to drive really, really fast.

“We understand that the race is going to affect the traffic, so if people really need to get somewhere and want to just pop into the race for a second, that’s fine,” said Vince Norman, 53, a coordinator for the downtown street race. “Just make sure you signal and watch for the ground crew to wave you on. If you go at the wrong time someone could hit you and you’ll explode.”


The unusually shaped track, designed by Nintendo art director Tadashi Sugiyama, winds its way through Grant Park, blocking stretches of Balbo, Michigan, Jackson and Lake Shore Drive. Original designs would have also blocked access to Millennium Park for the construction of a ramp made of rainbows, but this concept was abandoned after the designer was informed this track was for a real race.

“The hardest part of planning out this race was making sure we wouldn’t be causing too much disruption downtown,” said Norman. “Usually it’s bribing the mayor, but that was actually really easy. And so is our solution to traffic: just buckle up, hit the track, and try to stay out of the way of the pros. Don’t let this lil’ ol’ race get in the way of you enjoying your downtown Chicago experience.”

Commuters, public transportation and emergency vehicles have all been given the go-ahead to join the race if they’re trying to get somewhere, but have been warned they will not be allowed to win unless they drive the full race.


“We don’t want someone on a Divvy bike hopping in at the last second and trying to cross the finish line,” said Norman. “You only get the big champagne bottle if you drive the whole thing and have a corporate sponsor. And don’t try to slap a big sticker of a brand logo on your car to fool us. We know Malort isn’t sponsoring any drivers. Not after last time.” 

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