by Bob Bocras
NASCAR FOX Sports writer
NASCARTwo new stadiums for the 2023 Cup will be interesting to say the least.
The first will be North Wilkesboro (NC) Speedway on May 21, with the name NASCAR All-Star Race is moving there For the first Track Cup event since 1996. Six weeks later, NASCAR will Racing on the streets of Chicago On her first attempt on the street track for her biggest star.
The 2023 full national series schedules It was announced on Wednesday.
NASCAR’s track record with new events has been strong in recent years. The Charlotte road course went better than expected – it’s not the greatest of the road courses, but the race was solid, and you can see the entire track from a seat in the grandstands – and Clash, with a temporary track built in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, things went better than expected. No one expected it.
However, NASCAR, which has led the Coliseum track and will run the street track in Chicago, and Speedway Motorsports, which includes Charlotte and North Wilkesboro within the racetrack group, have a major challenge on their hands in trying to replicate their past successes.
NASCAR recently announced that Phoenix Raceway President Julie Geese will be moving to Chicago after this year’s championship race to serve as project leader there.
Geese oversaw track improvement projects in Richmond, Talladega, and Phoenix. It’s a person and someone who knows how to handle permits and politics, which should be valuable.
“We think it’s going to be one of the most anticipated sporting events of 2023,” Geese said of the Chicago race. “But we want to be aware of the community. We understand we’re racing in downtown Chicago — there are residents nearby.
“We want to do this with as little disruption as possible for them. I will be spending a lot of time in this market in the community around Grant Park. I look forward to hearing from them and trying to overcome these concerns.”
NASCAR announces street racing in Chicago
NASCAR has announced its first-ever street tournament in Chicago as part of the 2023 Cup Series schedule.
Here are the main parts of the agreement between NASCAR and the city, obtained through a public records request with the City Parks Department:
The agreement stipulates that NASCAR will pay the city $500,000 in 2023, $550,000 in 2024, and $605,000 in 2025. The city also gets $2 per ticket.
– The city gets 15% of “net commissions” for NASCAR merchandise and franchise sales in the first year, 20% in 2024 and 25% in 2025. No “net commissions” are specified, but NASCAR commissions on merchandise are usually 20% or less when taking into account material costs and costs paid to teams and drivers.
– NASCAR must reimburse any food vendors who normally operate in cycle areas and will be displaced at a rate of 105% of their usual daily take and pay any repair costs for damage to city streets.
– NASCAR can start building the structures three weeks before the event and begin work on the staging and other areas nine days in advance.
NASCAR must hire a third party to “produce” the event and work with the city. She has yet to reveal which company she will hire for the effort.
– The maximum attendance is 100,000 people for the entire footprint (including team members, media, etc.). NASCAR also gets a belt loop at Grant Park for concerts.
“We talked at length about the concerts every night after the races — having the festival experience, Chicago food, Chicago art and culture, and a celebration of what Chicago is,” Jezzy said.
It hopes to create a festive atmosphere while providing an opportunity for those unfamiliar with NASCAR to learn about the sport.
“From an experience perspective, making sure that we are aware of the education process and that we have some of those experiences within the footprint that help people understand what they are about to see, what is happening in the race and what to expect is going to be important,” Geese said.
While the Chicago Street track has to be “built” in terms of walls, fences, and terraces, the North Wilkesboro track needs renovation.
The question is how much renewal can happen by May? As part of the US bailout, North Wilkesboro Speedway received $18 million through the North Carolina budget. The North Carolina General Assembly has approved an additional $4 million for improvements to the 2023 All-Star Race.
Because it’s part of the federal funds, Wilkes County (NC) has to approve the contract to make track improvements. The county has already agreed to negotiate a contract with the Choate Construction Company.
According to the company’s tender, obtained through a county public records request, the scope of work will include:
– Repair of track walls and installation of a new fence. A Speedway Motorsports spokesperson said they will be adding a SAFER (Steel and Energy Reducing Foam) fender, which is a standard for tracks where NASCAR races.
– Repair existing stands and make them ADA compliant
– Adding a new lighting path
– Restoration and rebuilding of the wings
– Construction of rest buildings, storage structures, offices, etc., including a garage canopy for teams to work under, an indoor care center, a media center, a driver’s lounge, a building for tire suppliers
Installing new water and sewage lines
– Adding site leveling and paving works
NASCAR HIGHLIGHTS: North Wilkesboro Speedway
Andrew Dodd of “NASCAR Race Hub” takes a trip to North Wilkesboro to learn the story behind one of the original NASCAR tracks.
The caveat to all this: the bid offer is for work to be completed by April 9, 2024. The actual project construction timeline is 170 days. The race is 248 days away, so some work could be done by then, depending on how much of the pre-construction period – listed in the proposal as 215 days – could be shortened.
A Speedway spokesperson said there was no update on what would be done before May, noting that Speedway Motorsports officials are still working with Choate, which has done many projects for NASCAR and its tracks.
The track currently seats 18,000, and if Speedway Motorsports wants to increase capacity, it will be a challenge with one of two lanes in and out of the facility and restrictions on parking capacity. Any road improvements will likely be years away, though Speedway Motorsports will attempt to develop the park, ride, camping and ride systems for the event.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Tuesday on The Dale Jr. Podcast download: “It’s pretty much impossible to assume that any improvements will be made in the ability to get in and out of that facility, in terms of traffic.”
Earnhardt defended the return to North Wilkesboro and said fans should be prepared to come early and deal with traffic frustration. It’d be great to get back to the roots, but some of the amenities used for NASCAR fans won’t be ready for 2023.
“This was a huge disappointment and challenge for a lot of people during the CARS Tour event we just had there…there is not much that can be done to improve this experience,” Earnhardt said.
“Don’t expect, don’t assume it’s going to be much better this time around. There isn’t enough time to be able to make adjustments to the system itself or include a new arrival or anything like that.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. on his return to North Wilkesboro
“I almost wanted to cry. It was so emotional,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said of his experience racing again at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
What to watch
There is no guarantee that anyone will get angry this time, but there will be hurt feelings.
The big question is whether this will be like other short-track races with the next generation car, which means it will be more difficult to pass than previous events. With so many on the line and drivers knowing this car can handle more banging and banging, don’t be surprised if the bumps come in earlier and more frequently.
think out loud
It remains to be determined whether Childress rents a charter, buys a charter, or makes a deal to offer a car to another charter team. With the limited details, it appears that a Reddick purchase is still possible.
With Reddick team already hired Kyle Bush For the next year, Reddick’s presence at RCR looks like a waste. And it would be better for him to spend one year somewhere else, rather than being a “third” car at RCR. The best option would be for him to start on the 23XI a year earlier than in 2024, and purchase proposals are in the works.
It’s all a little shame. Reddick is a talent, and he would have raced hard for the RCR. But with the team ready to move on and build with Busch, it would be better if Reddick and RCR cut ties after this season.
they said that
“When I was there with Kyle and we first started talking and talking about championships and talking about winning races, I looked him in the eye, and I saw that look in Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s eye that he was hungry. We’re going to win. I’ve seen that look before.” – Richard Childers
Bob Pokras covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He’s spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @Popocrasand subscribe to Newsletter from FOX Sports NASCAR with Bob Pokras.
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