Chicago Soon May Be The Road-Racing Capital Of America
Based on the recently announced master plan of our revered, visionary Mayor Lori “Street-Smart” Lightfoot, Chicago soon may be known as the NASCAR motor-racing capital of America.
The plan to turn downtown city streets, avenues and boulevards into a 2.2-mile road-racing circuit is pure genius. Imagine, those decal-covered, souped-up muscle cars burning rubber and zooming around Grant Park at straight-away speeds of up to 130 miles per hour!
With engines roaring, professional drivers would downshift through 12 challenging 90-degree turns that normally would earn average Chicagoans hefty speeding tickets for exceeding the six miles over the 30-miles-per hour limit park-zone rule.
Of course, current plans include closing off street traffic for the July 2, 2023 event, and the race-car pits would be anchored on Columbus Drive in front of Buckingham Fountain. Temporary fences will be installed and grandstands built to provide front-row seating for thousands of cheering Chicagoans.
Downtown-festival tradition will call for all 16-inch softball league championship games in Grant Park to be cancelled because they conflict with Chicago’s new racing platform.
Post-race activities will include food venues, rock music and plenty of entertainment, all designed to boost the city’s hotel and hospitality industries and generate tourism revenue.
The historic weekend event, in which the City of Chicago and NASCAR are partners under a three-year agreement, also would include an International Motor Sports Association-sanctioned series race on July 1, 2023. The July 2nd premier race is one of 36 nationwide events on the NASCAR Cup Series.
As nutty as the event sounds, historians say the proposed race is not the first NASCAR event to be held in Chicago. In July of 1956, A NASCAR Cup Series race event was held in Soldier Field. And, in the early 1980s the late Mayor Jane Byrne proposed a Formula One Race on Lake Shore Drive. That race never materialized.
Our street-smart mayor says the race-event excitement is “off the charts.” At a recent press conference, she called the course “one of the most iconic ever.”
NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, who plans to drive his Toyota Camry in the race, called the Chicago event “exciting,” and he is looking forward to the challenge. Wallace’s racing team is sponsored by Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan.
Doesn’t all of this fanfare and spectacle remind you of the sporting events staged by Roman emperors in the ancient Coliseum to distract the crowds while taxes were increased and collected for foreign wars? Think of the chariot races in the movie “Ben Hur.”
Since this writer is a Chicago homeowner who pays his share of real estate taxes, it is only fair that we contribute ideas for the first-annual “Chicago Street-Smart Awards” and turn the July 1-2, 2023 weekend into a signature annual Windy City event open to all of the city’s most skilled automobile drivers:
Best Donut Spinners and Drifters
This award is designed to honor the daredevils who recently were highlighted on the 10 p.m. TV news. Apparently, they get an adrenalin rush from drag racing and “drifting,” which is the art of doing donut spinners in West Loop and Goose Island intersections at 4 a.m.
Last week, the City Council wisely passed an ordinance giving police the power to impound cars owned by donut spinners, and slap them with a $2,000 fine. The penalty would be added to the city’s existing drag racing fines, which are $5,000 to $10,000, plus a $500 towing fee.
The Dan Ryan Hot Wheels Award
This coveted citation would honor those muscle-car speeders who consistently exceed 100 miles-per-hour on the Dan Ryan Expressway, which has a 55 miles-per-hour speed limit. The Illinois State Police are responsible for controlling expressway speeders, and will be handing out the award.
Thankfully, a new state law, which goes into effect in 2023, prohibits “street sideshows.” Street racing and blocking or impeding traffic will be illegal on all state roads, including the Dan Ryan, Eisenhower expressway and the Du Sable Lake Shore Drive.
The penalty for blocking intersections will be a $250 fine and up to one year in jail. The fine for street racing will be $500, and felony charges for more serious offenses.
Most Challenging Pot Hole
This award targets city drivers who skillfully dodge the deepest pot holes identified by the mayor’s Street-Smart survey, which currently has counted more than 30,000 asphalt divots in our roadways.
Chicagoans, rev up your engines!