Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city, has reportedly agreed to let NASCAR hold a race on its downtown streets under a three-year contract, a major sports news site announced Thursday.
Adding street racing in a major market would be an important step for NASCAR as it battles to build fan interest against the increasingly popular Formula 1 FWONK,
and the Penske Corp.-owned IndyCar racing series, which already have several street races on their schedule.
Street racing can bring the action directly to fans and encourage more spending in a city center, compared to oval tracks typically located away from city centers.
But as buzz mounted that a Chicago deal was nearing the finish line, cycling and pedestrian groups feared the event would further contradict what they believe were already slow-moving efforts by city officials. to make the metro more user-friendly for two-wheelers and pedestrian traffic. .
Chicago has not yet entered into an official agreement with NASCAR. But the city has approved the plan and a partnership is expected to be announced soon, reports Jordan Bianchi of The Athletic.
The deal is expected to define a three-year partnership for which NASCAR would create a temporary route, with the first race in 2023, according to The Athletic.
The Athletic obtained a letter from Erin Harkey, commissioner of the city’s special events agency, endorsing the potential event.
“I am excited about the potential opportunity to host NASCAR Street Course events here in Chicago,” Harkey wrote in the letter, according to The Athletic. The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events “is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy, and our strong partnership with the Chicago Sports Commission ensures that NASCAR fans will be treated to a diverse and unforgettable experience. “.
The potential deal could still fall through.
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A Netflix NFLX,
special has finally revived US interest in European-rooted Formula 1, which has more than 400 million viewers worldwide – arguably one of the most popular sports in the world.
The streamer’s “Drive to Survive” series, which debuted in 2019, features behind-the-scenes footage of usually secretive racing teams and the sometimes contentious relationships between drivers and team executives. It attracted both hardcore and casual racing fans.
Netflix does not publish viewership data, but ESPN’s DIS viewership,
Formula 1 racing coverage has nearly doubled – to 1.5 million views per race – since the show premiered, the New York Post reported.
According to a recent Nielsen study, Formula 1 is on track to surpass one billion fans worldwide this year, with 77% of new fans aged under 35.
NASCAR’s sanctioning body has also added a new exhibition race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for 2022 and now 2023, so a bigger presence in key markets appears to be a priority, racing enthusiast site Beyond wrote. the Flag. Formula 1 will also race in Las Vegas next year for the first time in 40 years.
Back in Chicago, citizens are still reeling from the recent tragic death of a toddler, who was trapped in his bike seat under a tractor-trailer after his mother tried to navigate between a utility truck in the line of marked bicycles and the 18-wheeler in the neighboring traffic lane. She was the second child to die in a bicycle-related incident in June, along with the bicycle deaths of an 11-year-old and a 15-year-old, local news site Block Club Chicago reports.
While a NASCAR race on a marked course is vastly different from normal traffic, city officials’ enthusiasm for the event has always rattled cycling advocates who want Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s full attention to making the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists – especially since traffic-related fatalities. and injuries are at their highest level in years.
They also say that a fossil fuel-focused RB00,
This event contradicts a tougher stance the city should take on cleaner driving as gas price volatility continues and bicycling is expected to grow in popularity.
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