By: Jeremy Brandspiegel
On July 2nd, NASCAR had their first ever street race. After nearly postponing the race due to the weather, the inaugural street race took place in Chicago and people are excited about the future. In a weekend filled with issues due to the weather; such as advertised concerts being canceled and delays to the start time, NASCAR’s race was still a success.
New Zealand’s Shane van Gisbergen won the race and became the first driver in over 50 years to win in his NASCAR Cup Series debut after the race was shortened to 75 laps from 100. The race was shortened because it was becoming too dark outside since the race started late.
Even with the weather issues and shortened race, it was one of the most viewed races in recent years. According to the Chicago Sun Times, coverage on NBC and Peacock averaged 4.795 million viewers. It was the most-watched NASCAR Cup Series race in six years, when there were 5.647 million viewers in 2017.
According to Julie Giese, the NASCAR Chicago Street Race president, 80% of ticket holders were attending their first NASCAR event. While putting the event together was a big project, including multiple road closures around Chicago during the past month, the event received a lot of praise and has people already talking about future street races.
While Chicago has not yet committed to bringing back the street race in 2024, there is definitely interest. According to The Bradford Era, NASCAR has a three year agreement with Chicago and is going to assess hosting the race again.
While analysis on the race will continue to come out in the weeks ahead, the initial results based on viewership and attendance are definitely a positive for NASCAR.