July 19th, 2022 by Chris Leone
On Tuesday, NASCAR and the city of Chicago officially announced that the NASCAR Cup Series would make its debut on the streets of the city on July 1-2, 2023. iRacing, the world’s industry-leading motorsport simulation, was an integral part of the years-long process to make the event a reality, contributing its virtual track build and course design technology to create a proof of concept circuit that helped to facilitate the agreement.
“Seeing NASCAR on the streets of Chicago become a reality is a major accomplishment, and iRacing is thrilled to have played a part,” said iRacing executive vice president Steve Myers. “In recent years, the leading brands in motorsports have relied on iRacing to not only simulate their existing products, but also to experiment with new car and track concepts. Taking the NASCAR Cup Series to the streets for the first time in Chicago is a direct result of our work together, and we’re looking forward to seeing the concept come to life!”
The Chicago street course is iRacing’s latest of many recent contributions to the real-world NASCAR Cup Series. iRacing worked hand in hand with NASCAR to bring the Next Gen Cup Series cars into the virtual world before their real-world racing debut earlier this year, and designed the quarter-mile Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum bullring that hosted the preseason Clash for the first time this February. iRacing also helped Speedway Motorsports redesign Atlanta Motor Speedway into the highest banked 1.5-mile track on the NASCAR schedule, and serves as an important testing tool for drivers and teams at all levels of NASCAR throughout the season.
During the fall of 2020, iRacing staff headed to downtown Chicago to scan the city streets with the goal of devising a viable racetrack. iRacing led the track design efforts, recommending the actual course and which streets to use, as well as providing follow-up analysis that included data from iRacing online sessions featuring the track and numerous races with drivers from the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, the premier NASCAR esports series on iRacing.
After testing multiple designs for raceability, and using race data from within iRacing to compare to other existing tracks, iRacing made a recommendation for a final layout for NASCAR to use. The data, combined with the virtual test races, showed that the track will produce competitive racing. The layout was then approved and unveiled for an eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series event that was televised live on FS1 in June 2021. The 2.14-mile, 12-turn circuit that was released to all iRacing members features many of the city’s iconic landmarks in the backdrop, including Grant Park and the Buckingham Fountain. Prior to the real-world event, the Chicago street course will also play host to the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series All-Star Race on Tuesday, August 2.
As well as producing the world’s leading public sim racing experience for more than 200,000 active subscribers, iRacing continues to consult on and develop new track configurations for major industry partners looking to create new racing experiences. To partner with iRacing to design your next real-world racing experience in the virtual one, visit www.iracing.com/contact for more information. For more information on iRacing and for special offers, visit www.iracing.com.