NASCAR events generate plentiful income- and controversy
The NASCAR street race to be held downtown is said to generate a lot of income — as much as $113 million — but has only generated controversy so far.
The race itself will be disruptive, moving back traditional summer events, like July 4 festivities and the Taste of Chicago. Closures of the major streets for the race will begin as early as June 25.
For most Chicagoans, the Grant Park area is key to keeping traffic flowing. Blocking off these streets for so long will cause drivers to go out of their way to avoid the race, heavily increasing traffic time.
Sophomore Sygne Stole, who will have to travel between Hyde Park and the South Loop this summer, feels it will be disruptive to the community.
“I think it’s going to affect everyone’s commute,” she said. “Basically, the entire city is going to be shut down for a few days. And it’s gonna be near impossible to get anywhere that’s not in your immediate neighborhood.”
Other students and teachers expressed their concerns of getting to where they need to go, especially since summer is when schedules are packed with activities. Middle school teacher Janice Moy, a South Loop resident, especially worries about whether Chicagoans themselves will even enjoy the racing scene.
“I think of NASCAR as, like, a more Southern thing,” she said. “Why Chicago? We don’t have a particular connection with it.”
Her concerns are shared by prominent figures around the city, many questioning the practicality of it all. In an email to the Midway, 2nd Ward Ald. Brian Hopkins expressed that Chicagoans should’ve been more involved in the NASCAR event decisions, especially considering Chicago’s role as host city.
“The impact will definitely be felt by downtown residents. Summer is too short in our city,” he wrote, “so to have large parts of Grant Park shut down for as much of it as is proposed and to have traffic disruptions for so long is disappointing and difficult for many people who live in the downtown area.”
This concern seems to be shared with most of the students who live downtown, like ninth grader Clara Blucher, who lives in Streeterville. She thinks it will be too overwhelming, especially since other busy events are around the same time.
“I just feel like they didn’t really consider all the people that live there,” she said. “It’s cool in theory, but in practice it ruins a bunch of people’s summers.”