NASCAR hosts interactive day for Chicago kids ahead of street race

Excitement is revving up for NASCAR’s Chicago Street Race, which rolls into town this weekend!

Set for Saturday, July 6 and Sunday, July 7, it will serve as the centerpiece of Chicago’s Fourth of July festivities – but the fun has already begun.

In celebration of Race Week, NASCAR is hosting events throughout the city.

"Now that everyone’s seen it, they’re talking about places they want to watch the race from," said Julie Giese, president, NASCAR Chicago Street Race.

In its second year in the Windy City, NASCAR is refining its track for the roar that will be heard around Grant Park.

On Tuesday, FOX 32 Chicago got a first look at this year’s course aboard Big Bus Tours.

"Being able to deliver the concerts and all the different event experiences that we weren’t able to deliver last year because of the weather – really excited to be able to put on that full racing and music experience for our guests," said Giese.

That experience began Tuesday, with NASCAR’s Family Fest at Navy Pier, where a live simulator event was held with four of iRacing's top drivers.

"We have over a million race fans already in the Chicago DMA but it’s an opportunity for us to introduce our sport to a whole new audience," said Giese.

Meanwhile, on the Near West Side, NASCAR made a pit stop at the Boys & Girls Club of Chicago, where 150 kids who attend summer camp got a sneak peek at all the action.

The partnership between NASCAR and the Boys & Girls Club of Chicago began last summer.

On Tuesday, they got an up-close look at this year’s pace car and participated in various activities in the James R. Jordan Family Life Center. The children were invited to take on various roles, including driver, engineer, and pit crew member.

"I feel like takes a lot of courage to drive a car that fast and not be as scared as most people would be," said Chloe, a young NASCAR fan.

Kids created their own tracks, raced simulators, and enjoyed face painting.

"I was so happy, it was a kid’s dream," said Pierre, another young fan.

A dream realized – when they were introduced to two NASCAR drivers: Lavar Scott and Regina Sirvent.

"I want to show them that if you can see it, you can achieve it. That it doesn’t depend on your gender, or nationality, it just depends on how hard you work for things, and you can achieve them no matter what," said Sirvent.


NASCAR Chicago Street Race 2024 guide: Everything you need to know

The 2nd annual NASCAR Chicago Street Race will kick off this weekend, July 6 and 7.

For Boys & Girls Club of Chicago Chief Program Officer Marco De La Rosa, it meant everything to see their faces light up – but beyond that, it was an opportunity to open their minds to new ideas.

"Today, we’re trying to expose them to different career paths, both in auto racing and NASCAR, but adjacent – from technology, media, mechanics, pit crew as well," De La Rosa said. "It means everything. Our mission is to help kids reach their fullest potential – giving them the avenues that they may not have even thought of."

NASCAR’s Race Week events will continue ramping up throughout the week.

NASCAR Chicago Family Fest at Navy Pier continues Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.

On Wednesday evening, the NASCAR Foundation and the Chicago Street Race will host its second annual ‘Gear up for Good’ charity dinner at Steak 48 with proceeds benefiting YWCA Metropolitan Chicago. The event is being held from 5-8 p.m. For ticket information, click HERE.

On Friday, July 5, the Chicago Cubs will host NASCAR Day at Wrigley Field during the Cubs-Angels game at 1:20 p.m. The ticket offer includes a limited-edition Cubs checkered flag.

Also on Friday, Bubba’s Block Party will take place in Douglass Park from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Additionally, Austin Cindric – 2022 Daytona 500 Champion and NASCAR Rookie Driver of the Year – will hold a meet-and-greet with fans at Discount Tire, located at 550 W. North Ave. in Melrose Park. The event will begin at 1 p.m. Friday and is open to the public.

In the meantime, construction is picking up along the course – with closures to continue until it’s time to race.

By Friday morning, DuSable Lake Shore Drive will shut down in both directions between Randolph Street and McFetridge Drive.

For information on street closures and other weekend details, click HERE.