Not so long ago, iRacing helped create a sim model for the Auto Club Speedway in California to test the proposed reconfiguration of the 2-mile oval into a half-mile short track with high banked turns. The virtual end result helped the NASCAR officials to determine the feasibility of the concept.
That same concept has now lead to cooperation between NASCAR and iRacing in which they virtually transformed Chicago’s city streets into a virtual racing venue for the NASCAR’s invitational field and iRacing subscribers.
The 2.2 miles virtual Chicago Street Circuit incorporates parts of Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive in a unique, nearly figure-eight layout. The picturesque city setting features Grant Park and the iconic Buckingham Fountain among the historic buildings and iconic skyscrapers in the background. Mixing full-throttle straightaways with heavy braking corners, Chicago manages to nail the essence of any great street circuit, while adding a flavor unlike any other.
The Chicago Street Circuit is now available for purchase on iRacing.
In the fall of 2020, iRacing, NASCAR, and the city of Chicago shut down streets on the circuit to laser scan the road surface and some of the most familiar blocks of the city of Chicago, to create a virtual venue for the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series with the Next Gen cars.
The 2021 eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series is currently in its second season. The iRacing sim racing events were originally organized for NASCAR drivers to compete in after its 2020 seasons were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After the success of the series, NASCAR decided to bring it back on a more permanent basis in 2021, although this time, the races, 10 in total, are held on Wednesday nights at least once a month.
The series began on March 24 with a race at the virtual version of dirt Bristol Motor Speedway and will conclude with a race at a track yet to be determined.
Many NASCAR fans now wonder if this could be a preparation for a real NASCAR Cup Series race at the Windy City.
iRacing founder Steve Myers said, We were able to essentially shortcut NASCAR’s timeline being able to evaluate it as a real race course significantly because we could highlight a checklist of issues for a site visit.
NASCAR Vice President Ben Kennedy said, The impetus right now is solely that virtual event and bringing that to life. That’s been our focus in the near term. If there is an opportunity to explore different types of venues or new markets in the future, I think there are certainly a ton of options out there, whether it’s Chicago or other markets.
We were able to essentially shortcut NASCAR’s timeline being able to evaluate it as a real race course significantly because we could highlight a checklist of issues for a site visit, iRacing founder Steve Myers said.
Ben Kennedy said We were able to test out different configurations on what a potential street course might look like. It’s been a unique opportunity for us to play with the layout a little bit, play with where pit road might be, and a few other things.
Chicago is a critically important market to us, Kennedy said. It is one of the larger markets we have in the United States right now in terms of size of the fan base. This iRacing event will be a way to continue to engage a lot of our fans in the Chicago area in a unique and exciting way.
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