Of all of the schedule changes that NASCAR has made over the past several years, the addition of a street course race in 2023 presents stock car racing's boldest step yet outside of its comfort zone. The city of Chicago will host the first street course race in NASCAR Cup Series history this coming July, an event that has already attracted the attention of other cities across the United States that are interested in bringing the sport downtown.
In an extensive interview with Kelly Crandall of RACER, NASCAR president Steve Phelps shared that other cities have reached out to the sport about having a street course race in the lead-up to Chicago's street course race next summer. Phelps made that revelation while discussing the continued evolution of NASCAR's schedule as well as other changes the sport has seen in the past several years.
"Since we announced the Chicago street course, the number of cities that have reached out to NASCAR is significant, saying, 'Hey, we would love to have a street course with NASCAR,'" Phelps said. "Now, we're going to certainly wait to see how this first street course goes before we would make any commitments anywhere else. It's going to continue to evolve in terms of what the schedule looks like, but in general, I think what you've seen as a result of schedule variation, what we do from diversity, equity, inclusion standpoint, or any number of the other changes that are happening within the sport, they're bringing a relevance gain in the overall kind of population of this country and around the world."
While street course racing has been a staple of other racing series such as IndyCar, Formula 1 and V8 Supercars, stock cars have only had limited exposure to street courses so far, with most coming through the NASCAR Pinty's Series in Canada as well as the old Winston West Series in the past. The Chicago Street Course is the centerpiece of NASCAR's revised schedule for 2023, which also includes a return to North Wilkesboro Speedway as a strong nod to the sport's heritage for its 75th Anniversary season.
The Chicago Street Course furthers NASCAR's entry into more urban areas and increased presence in major media markets. Last year, NASCAR returned to racing in stadium settings with the first-ever Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Coliseum, a preseason event that will return for its second edition in 2022.