NASCAR Cup Series leaves for Chicago
by Dave Boehler
The Beacon Sports Editor
Ever go on a first, and then second date, and think it’s going as great as could be?
And then just like that, the other person disappears – I think it’s called ghosting these days – for someone bigger and better looking. Has more money, too.
Well that’s what it felt like when it was announced Tuesday that the NASCAR Cup Series is leaving Road America after just two races as a result of signing a three-year deal with the city of Chicago.
“There is that emotion, obviously,” Road America Communications Director John Ewert said. “There’s things swirling out there on the internet and the social mediums, but we’re kind of just moving along with it.
“Granted, it stings a little bit, but time heals all wounds and we’re excited about it. Chicago’s a huge market, and if they can encourage new fans by people seeing this experience, hopefully that will open up a few more eyeballs for us as well. We’ll always be here. We’ve been here for 66-plus years. Now 67 going through this season. We hope for another 50, 60, 70 more. …
“We had two really wonderful events. They were paramount. And then to all of sudden have the rug kind of yanked out from underneath you. So there is going to be those initial emotions, but then when you really kind of step back and reflect, you realize this is a good thing.We’ll press on.
“This gives us more time to prepare when they do decide to come back – which we intend on. We have a capital improvements plan that we do every year. So we’ll continue to do improvements to just make it all the more better when they do come back. Everybody was satisfied, as (NASCAR’S Senior Vice President of Racing Development and Strategy) Ben Kennedy said, it wasn’t a financial decision. NASCAR has to make very, very bold and aggressive strides to try to enhance their fan base. Chicago is a perfect place to do it.”
The race will be July 2 on a 12-turn, 2.2-mile street course against the backdrop of Lake Michigan and Grant Park.
In what may surprise some, Ewert feels the decision is not an entirely bad thing.
“We’re encouraged with all of the bold changes that NASCAR is making,” he said. “This is great, because it shows that they want to enhance the audience, increase the audience and increase the experience for everybody. …
“So for NASCAR to take such a vast leap by having a street race in Chicago to hopefully excite new fans and introduce the sport to new fans, we’re encouraged by that because, hopefully down the road if they decide to come back, we’re happy to welcome all those new fans to see what a road course is like with NASCAR. They’ll see what a street race looks like in Chicago, and Chicago is very close, but they’ll now be able to come up and enjoy the Road America experience and have their feet in green grass, and sit under a shade tree, eat some roasted corn and all of that.
“I mean, yeah, it’s kind of like, ‘hey, this (latest decision) is strange.’ But it’s still encouraging. Some people say it sucks, but change favors the bold. And it’s not easy, but it can be kind of a catalyst for improvement. So we’re encouraged by that.”
Ewert says there is not much news at this time regarding NASCAR’s Xfinity Series and Truck Series remaining at Road America, as those schedules are about two months away from being announced.
“The door is always open,” he said. “We’re happy to showcase a great Wisconsin experience to existing fans and new fans when they (NASCAR) do make a decision – or even Cup a few years from now.
“But there’s still kind of a lot of things in the air regarding this event.”
What others are saying on social media:
• NASCAR that is the worst thing you could do!!! What was wrong with Road America? … I guess you want your ratings to go down some more!!!
• Can’t wait! We will buy tickets and we will be there! A few days of concerts, and food vendors, topped off with a race? Heck yeah, count me in!!! I love watching the sport grow and change with time, like everything else does. Music, art, everything changes with time. Adapt or get left in the dust.
• How long until Nascar gets rid of Daytona and Talladega?
• Thanks for the 2-year new 4th of July tradition at Road America NASCAR. Guess it wasn’t good enough.
• This should be really cool. Keep mixing it up NASCAR. Loving the new venues.
• Removed from a nice community and taken to the armpit of America. Well done napcar, replacing window nets with bullet-proof glass.