CHICAGO (WLS) — With just over a week to go before the race cars roar through Chicago’s Grant Park, and pundits have weighed in on how the race will provide an economic boost to the city.
Thousands of people will be in attendance for the first-ever NASCAR street race, and it’s something local businesses have been anticipating.
NASCAR officials predicted the race would bring in over $100 million in economic impact. Much of this will be through hotels and restaurants, mostly out-of-town visitors.
The race is expected to draw 50,000 fans daily, with ticket buyers coming to Chicago from all 50 states and 14 different countries.
Guests aboard a Chicago River cruise got a surprise Thursday when NASCAR drivers joined them to learn a bit about the city they’ll be cruising through next weekend.
“What a great city for NASCAR’s first street race,” said NASCAR driver Riley Herbst. “Just because it’s a very old and iconic American city.”
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Lou Malnati’s pizzeria is a race partner and will serve some of his famous deep-dish slices on the course. They expect to see a big boost in their restaurants from restaurant patrons.
“It’s generating more business like, ‘I tasted some, now let me have dinner,’ because there’s nothing better than a deep pizza straight out of the pan,” said Alexandra Weaver, Managing Director of Lou Malnati’s Gold Coast.
The first week of July is traditionally busy in Chicago, regardless of the NASCAR Street Race. For the past few years, Grant Park has hosted the Taste of Chicago during this time. This event has always brought a lot of business for restaurants like Lou Malnati’s.
Hospitality experts said while the city would get a big economic boost from the race next weekend, the long-term impact could be much greater.
“The benefits extend throughout the year as people see the destination on TV and say, ‘Wow. This is where I’m going,'” said Dr. Lisa Young, Director of the School of Hospitality Leadership from DePaul University.
In addition to the NASCAR Street Race, a major American volleyball tournament on the same weekend is also expected to attract many visitors to the city.
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