NASCAR is looking towards the future of the sport, and it could include street races in cities like Chicago.
The thought of NASCAR racing in the streets of Chicago might sound like a fantasy relegated to the iRacing world, but it might just co-exist in digital form as well as in the real world. In fact, with the bombastic changes, made to the schedule in the last two years, and the sport wanting to break new ground, it almost seems inevitable at some point.
While iRacing is working in conjunction with NASCAR to build a virtual street racing event in the future, having actual stock cars snarling around the streets of Chicago could take a while. That doesn't mean officials aren't considering it a possibility though.
“It’s a great question, and as we look at future schedules, (we) certainly have everything on the table,” says Ben Kennedy, NASCAR’s vice president of strategic initiatives. “I think, you look at 2021, we’ve talked about it a lot. It’s the boldest and dynamic schedule we’ve seen in over 50 years and a testament to the industry for being able to pull that off and come together. A lot of exciting things in ’21. I think as we look toward 2022, really, our goals and expectations are the same."
NASCAR has already made headlines in their last two seasons by adding a doubleheader at Pocono Raceway, a night race at Martinsville, a dirt race at Bristol, multiple new road courses, and a new season finale at Phoenix. It's as if the NASCAR gods were listening and gave fans the ultimate goody bag of great racing action.
“We want to continue to innovate, we want to continue to protect those prestigious events like the Daytona 500 and the Coke 600, but also be able to go to new markets and shake things up," said Kennedy. "So I think it's a really unique opportunity to work with iRacing on this, to be able to test something out.”
At the end of the day, changes to the schedule will depend on the contracts that NASCAR has with various other racing facilities, but it could be an interesting possibility for the future. For now, however, NASCAR and iRacing plan to release their Chicago street race layout later this year and will even run a date there in June.