Chicagoans aren’t sold on NASCAR’s Street Race which will send cars zooming across the city over the Fourth of July weekend. Locals have already delivered a variety of concerns about noise, closed streets that will restrict access to the lakefront over the holiday weekend, and the traffic gridlock that will follow for travelers.
While locals, the city council, and newly-elected Mayor Brandon Johnson will have to wait for the event to actually happen to have meaningful data on its impact, a Chicago restaurant institution is getting involved with hopes of creating an annual event partnership.
NASCAR announced that the city’s largest restaurant group, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, will serve food from its restaurants including brisket from Bub City, cookies from Summer House Santa Monica, and pasta from RPM Italian as the race’s official food and beverage partner.
The two-day race will take cars on a 2.2-mile course on July 1 and 2. Two-day general admission passes cost $269 and don’t include food and drink. Premium tickets start at $465 and go up to $3,015 with food options, like granting access to options like RPM Restaurant’s set up inside the President’s Paddock Club — a two-level structure off Pit Road on Columbus Drive between Balbo and Jackson drives). Fans can indulge in RPM Italian’s signature pasta station and RPM Seafood’s seafood bar. A Chicago tradition, the carving station, is also part of the offerings. Alas, ballers — those special club tickets are sold out. There are 12 club sections scattered throughout the course for folks lucky enough to have procured a reserved ticket.
General admission ticketholders could buy barbecue from Bub City. A Lettuce news release reads Bub City will be stationed throughout the street course for fans. Bub City, which has locations in River North and suburban Rosemont, is a logical partner for NASCAR thanks to a love for country music and barbecue. There’s no shortage of NASCAR paraphernalia at Windy City Smokeout, an annual summer barbecue and country music festival held outside the United Center which Lettuce helps organize and host.
Lettuce management hopes the race becomes an annual Chicago tradition, and NASCAR projects the event will bring in $113 million in economic impact and more than $3 million in tax revenue in 2023 for the city of Chicago. The deal is three years through 2025 with options for two more events in 2026 and 2027. The city already made a huge adjustment, displacing the venerable Taste of Chicago festival from its customary spotlight during late June and Independence Day weekend, rescheduling it to September as NASCAR will close the roads around Grant Park.