INDIANAPOLIS – It was announced Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, that the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will return to the iconic venue this September as the main event for a weekend full of action dubbed “IMSA Battle on the Bricks.”
For the first time since 2014, the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will compete on a 14-lap, 2,439-mile road track in a two-hour, 40-minute race.
The event has been billed as a three-day festival showcasing the pinnacle of sports car racing, with unparalleled fan access to the garage area throughout the weekend so IMS infield racing enthusiasts can get up close and personal with their favorite sports cars, drivers and team.
Most importantly, fans will be able to camp at the IMS grounds, and access is not available during any other racing weekend at the popular facility.
While in the elevator at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Media Center on their way to the press conference, several folks from the IndyCar circuit were discussing how last weekend’s double capital in Iowa was an event rather than just a race.
It’s a growing trend in all motorsports, as various series and sanctioning bodies continue to offer unique and engaging racing weekends that include more than just the racing product on the track.
Last weekend in rural Iowa, the IndyCar Series hosted double races at the 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway, a track that was essentially left to die during the pandemic. Hy-Vee, the growing supermarket chain headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa, has been the weekend’s title race sponsor and, along with Penske Entertainment, has put on an event unlike anything seen in track history since it opened in 2006.
Along with a pair of races, the weekend featured four concerts with performances from pop and country stars Tim McGraw, Florida-Georgia Lane, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton.
The crowd flocked to the festival-like atmosphere. In addition, a large group of food trucks competed in the Food Truck Challenge as fans determined the winners.
Many throughout the industry felt that the Iowa double was a lesson to other race promoters on how to produce a first-class event.
Speaking of producing Class A racing events, NASCAR announced earlier this month that the Cup Series will take to the streets of Chicago next summer in the first-ever street track event in what will be the 75th Series.The tenth Anniversary season.
There are still many details to be completed and a lot of work to come before the cars reach the 12-mile, 2.2-mile street track that will showcase the iconic Chicago skyline along with Columbus Drive, Lake Shore Drive, Michigan Avenue , Buckingham Fountain and Grant Park before the Fourth of July next year.
But assuming NASCAR and the city of Chicago can deliver, it could be one of the more famous events on the schedule — although news reports locally in Chicago on Thursday and Friday are starting to cast some doubt on the event due to its escalation. Objection from environmentalists.
It was an unexpected move, as the city wants to shut down Columbus Drive for two weeks in order to prepare, and it likely won’t be able to reopen all streets or do a full cleanup in one day, given the Cup race is scheduled for July 2, and the July 4 holiday two days later. Only — and Lake Shore Drive, one of the main roads in the downtown area, was closed for at least a week, as well.
If it rains on July 2, pushing the race into third – and possibly even fourth – it could be disastrous for both the city and NASCAR.
However, Ben Kennedy, NASCAR’s senior vice president of strategy and innovation, said of all the changes to the series’ schedule over the past two years, this has been the boldest, describing it as the most anticipated event of the season and one of the biggest in our nation’s sporting events of 2023.
“This is the tip of the iceberg, and I think the excitement is now going to be off the charts, and people are really looking forward to July of 2023 when the cars take off the streets here,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. When the race was announced.
Let’s not forget that Chicago is no stranger to holding big events downtown, particularly around Grant Park, on a regular basis. This includes Lollapalooza this weekend, an annual event that draws in excess of 400,000 attendees over the course of the four-day music festival.
“We know how to do it,” Lightfoot said of any concerns. “We will be working alongside NASCAR to make sure the experience is safe, but also incredibly fun for fans. I look forward to showing our wonderful city on a world stage. We will do everything we can to make sure this race is a letter of love to the city of Chicago.”
Meanwhile, motorsports sanctioning bodies continue to write love letters to fans, creating unique and engaging weekends that aren’t just racing, but events.
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