After record-setting amounts of rain, three canceled concerts and hours of uncertainty, three-time Australian Supercar champion Shane van Gisbergen has won the inaugural 2023 Chicago Street Race.
It was the New Zealander’s NASCAR Cup Series debut—the first time since 1963 that a rookie won his first Cup Series race.
Van Gisbergen and the other drivers competed for 75 laps after the race was shortened due to expected darkness following several weather delays.
Earlier in the day, Cole Custer was declared the Loop 121 winner after heavy rain and flash flood warnings forced NASCAR officials to call back the previously postponed race after only 25 laps.
Custer was in the lead for all 25 laps, but shortly after the start of the race around 5:30 p.m. local time, lightning struck the surrounding area causing a rain delay, which ultimately led to an official postponement.
“With accumulated water and flooding at the race track and throughout the city a significant issue, there was no option to return to racing prior to relocating NASCAR Cup Series race operations,” NASCAR said in a statement. “Throughout the entire planning process for the Chicago Street Race, our relationship with the City of Chicago has been strong and has been one of the most valuable assets we have had in leading up to this historic weekend. In the spirit of that partnership, NASCAR looks forward to the completion of Returning to the Xfinity Series event being two laps short of the half was an option we chose not to employ. Based on a number of unprecedented circumstances, NASCAR has made the decision to declare Cole Custer the winner of the race.
There were several flash flood warnings throughout the day on Sunday as fans wondered if they would be able to see any racing.
Three of four concerts scheduled for the weekend, including The Chainsmokers, Miranda Lambert and Charlie Crockett, were canceled due to the weather.
Chicago’s Grant Park was transformed from a vast green oasis with impressive landmarks to an exciting 2.2-mile course with 12 sharp turns. Set against the backdrop of one of the world’s most iconic and recognizable city landscapes, the NASCAR Chicago Street Race was formed to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the NASCAR Cup Series.
Last year, former mayor Lori Lightfoot and NASCAR formed an alliance.to start a street course in busy Chicago. This visionary concept spurred months of meetings, extensive planning and collaborative efforts between various departments and community members.
Chicago Street Race President Julie Giese and her team understand the importance of this historic moment.
“It’s an education process. We needed Chicago to learn, Chicago needed NASCAR to learn, and I think now that we’re here, there’s just this big buzz that we’re about to make history,” Giese told CBS Told the news.
The once bustling pedestrian areas have been completely transformed, now covered with hundreds of spare tyres, while hardworking workers carefully position their vehicles for a final round of inspections and checks.
Prior to the race, drivers such as Conor Mossack devoted themselves entirely to preparation, honing their skills on simulation courses. On Friday, he and the other drivers finally had the opportunity to experience the track firsthand via a walk-through.
Reflecting on his initial impressions, Mossack told CBS News, “I feel fine. There are definitely some corners where throttle hanger or brake failure can cause trouble, but you just try to go into it and keep at it.” Don’t focus.”
The drivers were given their first and only chance to practice and drive on the track exactly 50 minutes before the command to start the engines for the Cup qualifying round was given.
NASCAR Cup Series driver and former Formula 1 champion Jenson Button, who has driven courses around the world, ranked the Chicago course above competing races in Monaco and Singapore based on simulation. He added that he saw several challenges including several 90-degree corners on the track.
“It’s a challenging track. You have to put bumps in it, you have overpasses. It’s going to be hard for us to learn in 50 minutes. You know, trust the car and the track and push it and break where we think we can.” can break,” he said.
While the event represents a breath of fresh air for the sport, some Chicagoans see it as a headache as the road closures were expected to cause traffic backups during the busy Fourth of July weekend. the race happened when the city was strugglingdue to smoke from Canadian wildfires in the days prior to the event.
With general admission tickets priced starting at $269, the event is expected to generate an economic impact of over $113 million and over $3 million in tax revenue for the City of Chicago.
Amid the rapid expansion of Formula One in the United States, NASCAR aims to replicate the success of hosting a grand event in one of America’s largest metropolitan cities, as well as attract new fans to the sport. Longtime fans like Daniel Blaufman of New Hampshire and Mike McGowan of South Carolina recognize and appreciate the importance of the race.
Eagerly awaiting the event, they sat outside the gated entrance hoping to catch a glimpse of the preparations on Friday.
For first-time Chicago visitor, the race represents a watershed moment, signaling a new direction for the sport and its fans.
Blaufman said, “I think it’s showing that we’re capable of doing more than one thing. We’re not just limited to left turns or roadways.”