Restart your engines - NASCAR returns to Chicago in 2024

NASCAR stock cars once again will whiz past Buckingham Fountain after Mayor Brandon Johnson gave a green light to the return of the Chicago Street Race in 2024.

Johnson's administration inherited a previous deal approved under former Mayor Lori Lightfoot to host NASCAR in July 2023 and two subsequent years, but concerns about an extended closure of Grant Park and numerous downtown streets had left doubts about a repeat.

This week, the mayor's office announced the race and related events are set for July 6 and 7, 2024, with some concessions from NASCAR.

"As a result of these conversations, NASCAR has agreed to shorten the event's set up and tear down windows, reducing travel disruption for impacted communities and other residents," the city's statement reads. "NASCAR has also committed to addressing costs incurred by city departments and agencies in facilitating and securing the event as consistent with other large-scale events.

"This is a win for Chicago taxpayers, as the original agreement did not include provisions for such costs."

Despite worries about crime and crowds, the event on July 1 and 2, 2023, occurred without serious problems except for heavy rain on race day. But street shutdowns days prior to the start irked many Chicagoans who live in the downtown area.

Next year's race is after July 4, and the mayor's office said Wednesday that "NASCAR has committed to growing its impressive investments in Chicago communities and expanding opportunities for small-, minority- and women-owned businesses to participate as vendors in 2024.

"The city looks forward to working with NASCAR and other stakeholders to deliver a successful Chicago Street Race weekend in 2024 that works for residents, fans and Chicago's economy."

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