As the days wind down, excitement for the Chicago Street Race Weekend grows
Downtown Chicago is starting to get worse as summer approaches, and adding a street race will only make the “Windy City” that much more interesting for its residents. -following the race and visitors to the city. With the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series slated to participate in the Chicago Street Race Weekend (July 1-2), excitement is sure to be in the air as the sport’s first-ever street racing is history
Of course, you didn’t have to tell Julie Giese that. Since being named president of the new center in August 2022, Giese, from Wisconsin, has spearheaded all efforts for the event.
“Spring has sprung in Chicago, so the park is looking pretty amazing right now, which is fun to see come to life,” Giese told NASCAR.com. “Just looking forward to the race weekend, everything is coming together really well. Great planning meetings with the city of Chicago, they’ve been great partners for us along with the sports commission, and I think there’s a lot of excitement about the first street race for NASCAR.”
FACTS: Check out the Chicago course layout
Giese’s previous experience certainly helped smooth the transition. From her most recent stint as track president at Phoenix Raceway, Giese helped oversee a $178 million renovation effort to the 1-mile Arizona track. The groundbreaking move, in turn, helped pave the way for the first NASCAR championship weekend of 2020. Phoenix has since hosted the season finale, with 2023 as the fourth consecutive year as the host of the competition, with the last one. the sale of the Cup of the year – the fourth in a row – underlines the positive transformation.
Lessons learned during his tenure at Phoenix have been instrumental in implementing Giese’s vision in Chicago.
“I think, for me, it’s making sure that we provide experiences for everybody, so the Chicago Street Race is really an opportunity for us to introduce NASCAR to an audience to completely new, but I think what I learned down in Phoenix is making sure you find that combination,” said Giese.
“We still want our dedicated, long-time fans to participate and be a part of it, so as we create that experience around the park, the experiences that our long-time ticket holders or race fans are used to. , but also then creating new experiences that excite the new fans thinking of those concerts with The Chainsmokers and Miranda Lambert, Black Crowes and Charlie Crockett. Just being really thoughtful and intentional about the kind of experiences we provide. “
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From the beginning, Griese has emphasized NASCAR’s connection with the city of Chicago, whether through involvement in youth programs to supporting local businesses. Giese’s move to Chicago in November – and the opening of NASCAR’s office there in November – only helped with the goal of connecting with the community in as many ways as possible.
For Giese, this includes involving the younger generations.
“For us, being a good member of the community and a good partner in the city of Chicago is a big priority, and that’s really what drove the ads that we did, a lot of the different programs,” said Giese. “Whether it’s with Chicago Public Schools, After School Matters, All Kids Bike, being a good member, giving back where we can, and for us, that’s a great opportunity to bring youth into NASCAR.
“You don’t always grow up racing a car or a kart. There are so many ways that everyone can get involved and find a career in NASCAR. I think that’s what’s been really fun about the STEM/STEAM programs with the Chicago Public Schools educating the youth on the ways you can be involved in NASCAR. Whether it’s an engineer or a mechanic, a graphic artist, I think the STEAM curriculum, so that’s been really fun, and I think it’s been an eye opener for many of the students.”
As the months begin to wind down to mere weeks, Giese’s main goals revolve around continuing to generate interest and “overcommunicate” local residents and businesses about what should be. expected. And with the first ever run on a street course approaching, the giddiness is well earned.
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From the community print to the historic victory, both the racing fan and the track president in Giese are more than ready to see the new street circuit come to life.
“This sport has been around for 75 years, and to be just a small part of something that’s never been done before, it’s hard to find those things,” Giese said. “We’ve done a lot to do it in those 75 years, to be part of the first street race, to make real history for our sport, it’s very special.”
The Xfinity Series races in Loop 121 on July 1 (5 p.m. ET, USA, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), while the Cup circuit races in Grant Park 220 on 2 July (4:30 p.m. ET , NBC, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).