NASCAR News: Anti-Isreal Protesters Arrested After Chicago Street Race Disruption

Amid the NASCAR Cup Series Grant Park 165 in Chicago on July 7, 2024, two anti-Israel protesters were arrested within the perimeter of the Chicago Street Race. The protesters, who voiced their dissent for around 40 minutes whilst they had locked themselves to the fences, targeted Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker.

The signage, including phrases such as “[Pritzker]: We charge genocide” and “Bombs for Gaza, prisons for Illinois,” was a stark criticism of Governor Pritzker’s financial ties to Israel and his stance on state spending. The demonstrators connected this to broader accusations of genocide in Palestine.

In a strong-worded statement, the protest organizers railed against what they termed the “genocide and mass imprisonment agenda” supported by varying levels of the American government. The critique wasn’t just aimed at political figures but extended to the arrangement of the NASCAR event itself. The organizers of the protest decried the race as a platform for propagating Israeli nationalism, specifically highlighting NASCAR’s association with Alon Day, the sole Israeli driver in the circuit.

Alon Day’s Chevy Camaro was severely damaged following a collision in practice, which sidelined him for the main race. Scheduled to participate as a tribute to Israeli hostages and soldiers, Day’s car was adorned with the Israeli flag and Hebrew symbolism.

NASCAR Chicago Street Race
Protestors are arrested by police officers prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Grant Park 165 at Chicago Street Course on July 07, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois. Two protestors were arrested at the Chicago Street…

James Gilbert/Getty Images

Day commented, as quoted by Fox News:

“I think I’m more motivated than ever. I won four times, the European Championship, and I always did it for my own success. Like all of us, we’re human. We try to be the best we can. We try to win [championships] for ourselves.

“I think this time something a bit [changed] in me – doing that not only for myself but actually for the whole country, for the hostages, obviously for the [Israeli] soldiers, for the Jewish community in general here in the United States – I’m motivated by something else, by the war, by friends that are still hostages. This is what actually wants me to push to do even better.

“The pro-Hamas protests on the streets, especially in the streets of Chicago, which is actually getting really dangerous. I was there for a couple of days, like a week ago, and I felt the need to check that I’m not wearing anything that can identify myself as Jewish. I mean, this is how bad it is. Sounds like Germany in the ’30s that I need to hide my Judaism.”

The protest organizers further demanded significant policy shifts, urging President Joe Biden to advocate for a permanent ceasefire in the Israel-Palestine conflict and to end U.S. aid to Israel. These demands intricately link the controversial allocation of Illinois’ budget — notably the $900 million earmarked for new prison constructions — to international political stances undertaken by state leadership.