Fans who attended NASCAR’s Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., last June had little reason to think they were witnessing a farewell.
But it now appears possible, if not likely, that NASCAR will stop running events at Chicagoland following the cancellation of its race there this summer, and Tuesday reports it would not visit the venue in 2021.
Scott Paddock, the president of Chicagoland, could not say whether there would be events at his track in 2022 and beyond.
”It’s difficult at this time to speculate on what 2022 might bring,” Paddock said in a statement. “We will continue to work with NASCAR on potential future opportunities beyond 2021 and will keep you updated.”
Pro drag racing at nearby Route 66 Raceway is also cut out of the 2021 schedule, delivering another potential punch to the Joliet economy.
NASCAR has also reportedly halted races at Kentucky Speedway as part of a broad initiative to restructure its annual Cup Series schedule.
The exit will sting for Joliet, which relies on the cash influx of NASCAR arriving for a weekend each year. That might be especially true, given more general economic concerns sweeping the nation amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is bad for (the city of Joliet). It was a great event,” Joliet mayor Bob O’Dekirk told The Athletic. “It certainly helped businesses, local restaurants and hotels. I haven’t talked to the (city) council but I know are very disappointed by it. As far as they know it’s a one-year decision right now. There’s no indication either way about what would happen moving forward.”
Among active NASCAR drivers, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski are tied for most race wins at Chicagoland with two.