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Rain Dampens Chicago NASCAR Race For A Second Consecutive Year, Clouds Event's Future

Mother Nature is not a fan of NASCAR's Chicago Street Race. 

For the second year in a row, the skies opened up and a rainstorm delayed the race on Sunday, which ended early due to a NASCAR curfew. Back-to-back years of bad weather have thrown the future of the often controversial event in doubt, which reportedly brings in significant tourism dollars for city hotels, restaurants and shops at the cost of lengthy road and park closures.

NASCAR Chicago Street Race Exhibit

In 2023, the event brought in over 79,000 attendees, generating $109M in economic activity and $8.3 million in local and state taxes, according to Block Club Chicago. The Chicago Park District brought in about $620K for the 2023 event, but the city spent at least $3.5M in preparation and staffing costs, the outlet reports. 

Economic impact figures for this year's event are not yet available. 

“They sweetened the pot this year but it’s not enough,” 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins told Block Club. “They took advantage of the previous administration’s deal and I don’t blame them.” 

Both Hopkins and 34th Ward Alderman Bill Conway, whose wards include portions of downtown, have criticized the racing organization in the past. They are skeptical of the claimed economic impact and concerned over the impact on residents, Block Club reports. 

The buildup and teardown for last year's event took 84 days, rendering several areas of the park inaccessible, according to the outlet. NASCAR cut down that timeframe to 73 days this year. 

NASCAR has the option to come back for a third year through its contract with the city and can renew for two additional years, according to Block Club. Either side can trigger a 180-day termination clause in the contract. 

Though it does not release financials, NASCAR might only have one street race in its budget, Fox Sports reported, and the Chicago event is not believed to be a major revenue generator. The organization is said to have ambitions to bring street racing to Mexico City and Montreal, where Formula 1 also races, the outlet reported.

“Obviously it’s been two chaotic races with the weather,” race winner Alex Bowman told the Chicago Tribune. “Maybe we’ll get a dry one next year.”