ROBERT CHANNICK Chicago Tribune
CHICAGO — The soundtrack to the inaugural NASCAR Chicago Street Race, which is set to turn Grant Park into a pop-up racecourse during the July Fourth weekend, will include more than screeching tires and roaring engines.
In addition to 200-mph race cars, the two-day event will feature full-length concerts ranging from country to electronic dance, headlined by Miranda Lambert, The Chainsmokers and The Black Crowes, NASCAR announced Wednesday.
NASCAR anticipates 100,000 attendees will participate in a Lollapalooza-like festival designed to “reimagine the NASCAR experience in the heart of downtown Chicago,” Julie Giese, president of the Chicago Street Race, said in a news release.
Scheduled for July 2, the televised Cup Series event will feature a 12-turn, 2.2-mile racecourse, with top NASCAR drivers weaving in and around Grant Park on closed-off streets lined with temporary fences, grandstands and hospitality suites. Texas singer-songwriter Charley Crockett will open for country superstar Lambert before the race.
A separate Xfinity Series race, the second tier of NASCAR competition, is scheduled for July 1. Southern rockers The Black Crowes, best known for their 1990 cover of “Hard to Handle,” will take the stage after the qualifying rounds, while The Chainsmokers , an electronic dance music duo, will perform after the first day’s race is run.
Two-day general admission tickets, which include the races and the concerts, start at $269 and go on sale Feb. 2.
In November, NASCAR began selling two-day reserved tickets starting at $465. Premium club seats run a lot higher. At the top of the list are temporary hospitality suites perched above the pit road, where tickets for the President’s Paddock Club cost more than $3,000 each.
NASCAR struck a three-year deal to transform the Grant Park surroundings into a racecourse. Under the terms of the agreement, NASCAR will pay the Chicago Park District a $500,000 permit fee 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 fee per admission ticket, and an escalating commission starting at 15% for food, beverage 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 the pit road. From there, drivers will go south to Balbo Drive and then jog east toward DuSable Lake Shore Drive. Heading south along the lake, drivers will turn west on Roosevelt Road, working back north on Columbus Drive in a rough figure eight that will take in a piece of South Michigan Avenue before reaching the start/finish line.
NASCAR has full access to the racecourse area for nine days prior to and three days after the event. But the total staging window — the process of building and breaking down the temporary facilities — runs a full month, starting three weeks before the race weekend, according to the agreement.