Wednesday, June 21, 2023

People pay for that?


     So NASCAR. The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, roaring around downtown Chicago in less than two weeks.
     A nightmare I’ve come to think of as “Lori’s Revenge.”
     We’ve all read about it. The course. The disruption. Taste of Chicago booted from its traditional perch. Not only this summer, but for two more to come. Nowhere near the epic proportions of Rich Daley’s flush-billions-down-the-toilet-for-the-next-75-years blunder. But quite a commitment to expensive folly nevertheless.
     And, pardon me for asking, is Lori Lightfoot even going? Or has the former mayor already decamped to Cambridge, where she sits at a window, tapping a pencil against a yellow legal pad. Puffing out her cheeks. Gathering her thoughts. About leadership ...
     Sorry. So Monday, with June suddenly two-thirds over, I began looking ahead, and had this thought: “Maybe I should go to see NASCAR.”
     Stock car racing is a bedrock American sport — 10th place, anyway, behind pro wrestling and tennis. I’ve gone downtown to witness what I imagined was a comparable event — the Chicago Marathon — to cheer my brother when he ran. Masses of onlookers craning for a glimpse. Not the most enjoyable time — I never did catch sight of him among the lank bundles of sinew loping past. But not a bad way to spend the day, either. It wasn’t as if it cost anything.
     I assumed going to see the NASCAR race would be something similar. Hop off at Union Station, stroll down Adams. Eyeball some stock cars roaring around a curve. Snap a few photos for social media. Watch for, oh, half an hour, until you get the point — vroom vroom. Then go find lunch.
     I plunged into the Internet and quickly found the City of Chicago’s Ticket Options page.

To continue reading, click here.

31 comments:

  1. Always wanted to go to the Indy 500, just for the experience. My ex-wife's father was into racing, and offered to take me one year, back in the Eighties. But then he changed his mind, and took his grandson instead. I was disappointed, but not heartbroken.

    For a number of years, Cleveland used the runways of its lakefront airport for a big race every July, and that worked out pretty well. The same thing would have succeeded in Chicago. But Richie Daley X'd out that idea. Can't help thinking about what might have been.

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    1. Too bad you missed Indy. Saw 3 races, '68, '69' '70 which was just enough. Saw the 2nd and last year of Andy Granitelli's turbines and Bobby Unser win his first. Next year was Mario Andretti's only Indy victory, '70 was the first of many for Al Unser Senior. It's a young man's event, for spectators and you see just a portion of the race, but it's an historic event and venue, well worth the effort. I was lucky with NASCAR. A Navy friend had worked for Bud Moore's team and we attended the 1971 Winston-Western 500 in Riverside California. A road course rather than an oval made it more interesting but you still see only a portion of the action. Fortunately for us, Moore had appendicitis at the previous venue, leaving the team shorthanded so we worked with the pit crew for David Pearson one of the top drivers at that time. Unfortunately an oil leak stopped us half way through. Alas. Actually the best racing was short track at O'Hare Stadium on Mannheim late '60s & '70s. You see all the action, Demolition Derby and FigureEight racing. And they had great popcorn! Stock car racing is now just a big free for all on the last lap, though I doubt that will happen here. The city streets are not made for these cars and could be a big disappointment for avid fans. The Grand Prix of Monaco is an iconic race in a unique venue despite the narrow track that presents nearly no opportunities to pass another car. The only changes in the order of the cars after the first lap is from breakdowns, accidents or human error in the pits.It is a boring race and I feel Lori's little adventure might be similar.

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  2. Lori's big F You to Chicago. Haha...maybe we deserve it.

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  3. You could go to one of the pop-up street races in the city for free, bring your own food and drinks.

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  4. I pretty much agree with everything you said, except the watching the race part. my adult son wants to go and im gonna shell out the nearly thousand dollars to take him before I retire and leave town. He prefers Formula One but with NASCAR doing a street race he's pretty excited. He's a drifter and has a fancy car for it.

    It takes tremendous skill to drive these cars nearly 200 mph. for a couple hours. no true fan wants anybody to crash.

    I'm pretty excited and certainly not wealthy. its a sport of the common man, like baseball where you could also pay $350.00 per ticket to see the Cubs. Or more for a suite and tens of thousands of people do, every year, in every city across the country.

    To each their own.

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  5. I've been to car races when I was younger-mu dad was a road race aficionado, and my uncles raced midget cars at Santa Fe, Chgo Raceway Park (at 127th St), and various other places. I might have gone to a NASCAR race at Indianapolis Raceway Park (NOT to be confused with the Motor Speedway, where they hold the 500). Whatever. As I grew up and got old, the lure of hulking horsepower lost its appeal, though I admit in my youth I thought it would be cool to have a race all around the city using the expressways as a track. Talk about causing traffic jams!

    If I was as naive as Neil seems to be, vis-a-vis NADCAR tickets, I'd probably want to amble up for free and watch a few laps. But they START at $265!?!? NFW, baby.

    Let's hope it's sparsely attended and goes away after the contract is up.

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  6. If Brandon Johnson had a brain, he would've cancelled this atrocity within five minutes of being sworn in as mayor. But since he's a fool, he didn't.
    I was on Michigan yesterday & saw those grandstands for the paying suckers.
    What I would like is for a tv station to set up cameras up a couple of floors in the building on the west side of Michigan & put this disaster on the internet for free.
    And I very honestly hope there's a serious crash that kills some spectators!

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    1. Whoa dude. I mean seriously, you're wishing death on the spectators. It doesn't seem like you're joking man and as far as mayor Johnson canceling this, this is NASCAR the answer to a 50 million contract. You don't just tell them no.

      You might want to talk to somebody about your anger issues dude. You don't seem well

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    2. REALLY, Clark? Brandon is a "fool". Why, because his people took a look at the contract and decided that it was signed, sealed and delivered by the actual fool who got it done, and thus could not be cancelled? Kinda like that parking meter contract, or the Skyway contract?

      Get a life. And take some contract law classes before posting about business dealings again.

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    3. I'm waiting for some big outdoor event in which all the "good guys with guns" start shooting each other because of a firecracker or a backfire, but I certainly am not wishing for it, given that it wouldn't change anybody's mind. And wishing for some innocent person to die is morally objectionable in most anybody's book and uncool as far as I'm concerned.

      john

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    4. There's always a way out of a contract. Especially one as asinine as this one. Anything that screws up Downtown as much as this atrocity is doing is a really dumb contract. I wonder how much NASCAR paid Lightfoot under the table for it! And I really don't give a damn if any of the stupid spectators are killed.

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    5. Look both ways before you cross the street, Clark. The pace car might take you out. It would be a shame if the race had to be delayed.

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  7. Nascar is loud. Really loud. Make your ears bleed and your bowels spasm loud. From a distance the reaction from inconvenienced Chicagoans could be entertaining.

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    1. One of the articles I saw said they're putting some sort of mufflers on the cars.

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  8. I doubt that many people know that Soldier Field used to have stock car races. I recall seeing a sign ballyhooing the appearance of Fireball Roberts, who I believe got killed in a crash elsewhere. Not entirely sure why Lori couldn't have worked something out a little less disruptive than racing in the streets. What comes next? Amateurs bringing their homebuilt hotrods downtown to replicate their daily expressway madness on Lake Shore Drive? Prizes to the survivors. T-shirts for the spectators.

    john

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  9. I used to edit a one-page NASCAR publication for Thomson Newspapers ... back when there *was a Thomson Newspapers.

    So I went to some races. As others have said, the cars are *loud. Though I've read that they'll have mufflers in Chicago. It strikes me as a ridiculous idea to have a race in the city. There are NASCAR fans in the Chicagoland area (years ago, Dale Earnhardt and his son were at a mall for a NASCAR simulation experience that opened, and the assembled crowd, which was more sizable than I expected it to be, went *insane when Dale walked out) but build a track or a course in the western suburbs or something.

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  10. Or one can go to a Sox game too for a lot less. You forgot to mention that, Mr. S. ;)

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    1. You had to mention the one sports thing more boring than NASCAR...the Double-A team masquerading as Your Chicago White Sox

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    2. I don't think "forgot" is the operative word here. I'd rather pay to go to Wrigley Field than go to see the Sox for free.

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  11. So I saw the Charlotte 600 about 30 years ago in Charlotte North Carolina, the hallowed grounds of NASCAR, like seeing pro football at Lambeau Field or seeing Bill Evans at the Green Mill, a special place. On the pace lap, the warm up lap before the race begins, people jumped up to "flip off" the guy they didn't like. So I see a love for certain drivers and a non-love for others. Like loving the Cubs but not liking the Cardinals, or liking a certain golfer over another. The strategy is to stay towards the front and stay out of accidents, be the fastest you can during the pit stop, which is a team effort and probably why the seats in pit row cost more, and position yourself to be completive towards the end. I think the beauty is in the last lap pass where second place has to get behind first place and wait for the perfect moment when to move to the side and make the final pass, using the leaders "draft" if you will to pull around him. Certainly the beauty of auto racing. Otherwise it's kind of like watching a basketball game paying more attention to the last two minutes, waiting for the last 5 laps is the most important time to watch. Somewhat like in baseball in the bottom of the ninth, 2 outs on a 3-2 count your closer locks the batter up with a beautiful curve ball.

    I would think if you could get a ride during the last lap of a real race and pass the first place car at about 200 miles an hour with Miranda playing the "Rodeo Song" in the back it would be quite a thrill. Might have to hold off looking for lunch for a while.

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  12. I got an email offering seats for about $1700 per. They gotta be kidding.

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  13. I don’t have a desire to attend and was not excited when Mayor Lightfoot signed this deal but have changed my opinion. This is going to attract a number of people to Chicago that would not normally set foot here because of what they see on Fox News. They will see get to see what a beautiful city we get to enjoy. I have read stories of hotels selling out for that weekend which should also bode well for restaurants and bars in the loop that continue to try to recover. Waiters, drivers and bartenders will cherish that out of town money
    For those at home, they will be watching a 3 hour commercial for the city that hopefully inspires them to visit in the future.
    I am guessing those complaining about the noise (cars will have mufflers) and crowds weren’t going to be in the area anyway. World class cities have events that appeal to a wide spectrum of tastes. Just because this one doesn’t appeal doesn’t make it a bad choice.

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  14. I have never seen such vitriol in the comments section of your blog. what's up with this crap?

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    1. Not sure. I got a ton of email yesterday and perhaps didn't study these as closely as I should. I don't post comments that are too toxic. Did I miss something?

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    2. I dunno, Mr. S. I've seen comments here that were removed by their authors, but rarely from the proprietor. Maybe it's time. Wishing violent death on spectators at a sporting event is kinda over the line. These days, wishing for violent outcomes can get you booted and banned from all kinds of venues. Ask the man who knows.

      If somebody just has to wish for fatalities in auto racing, maybe it's better to only hope it happens to the participants, which I think a lot of racing fans secretly do. Best yet? Don't go there at all. Not cool. Your house, your rules, and your call.

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    3. I guess I saw that comment as self-indicting. If you write that you wish China would be swallowed up by the earth, you're wishing for 1.3 billion people to die. I don't think I'd remove that because it's so ... stupid. I mean, who cares what Clark St. wishes for? I don't remove comments for their substance as much as for their tone.

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  15. I’ve never been to a NASCAR race, but when I was a kid we used to go to the funny car and stock car races at Santa Fe Speedway in Willowbrook, and Raceway Park in Blue Island, and I remember them being a lot of fun. Maybe that recollection was colored by warm memories of family outings from a long gone childhood. Good times.

    Ironic that a Cubs game is offered up here as a comparison, for as perplexing as many people consider the allure of watching car racing to be, I have long considered the supposedly irresistible appeal of Wrigley Field and the esteem in which it is held to be one of life’s deepest mysteries. I’ve been to five games at Wrigley Field (four Cubs and one Sting) and I simply cannot crack the code. Besides the highly unaccommodating amenities of the place (and I remember Chicago Stadium, which I did revere and dearly miss), I just have never gotten why everything from the weeds on the walls to the chalkboard-like scoreboard to the ugly row houses across the streets are considered to be so charming, when I see nothing but eyesores. No accounting for taste, I guess.

    There is also the matter of the respective cultures to be considered. NASCAR fans are widely considered to be the epitome of inbred, degenerate, unsophisticated trailer trash, and I suppose there is some truth in that, but I would honestly rather rub shoulders that sort than those of the Jimmy Buffet parrothead like, jerk off frat boy fans that largely comprise the Wrigley Field milieu.
    (I also recall observing that getting smashed seemed to be a huge part of the Wrigley experience as well).

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    1. Die-Hard Cub Fan here, since 1960...been to hundreds of Cub games. As the postal workers used to say, to each his zone. And like the hard-core bikers say: If you have to ask, you'll never understand. Hell, if you don't care for Wrigley, or baseball...and choose not to go there...that's cool...and your decision just leaves another seat available...for people like me.

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  16. “Only one speedway has a track of clay / you ain’t seen nothin’ til you’ve been to Santa Fe!” And now it’s just townhouses. A lot less noise, a lot less fun.

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  17. I just got flagged on a subreddit because I suggested Ol' Vlad Putin should be "disappeared".

    Sheesh!

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