Fast-food giant McDonald’s named founding promotional partner of the NASCAR Chicago Street Race

·3 min read

Expect to see a lot of McDonald’s logos at the inaugural NASCAR Chicago Street Race during July Fourth weekend in Grant Park.

The fast-food giant was named a founding promotional partner Wednesday of the two-day racing and entertainment event, which will give Chicago-based McDonald’s a highly visible presence throughout the pop-up racecourse.

McDonald’s is, in essence, sponsoring the ultimate drive-through, as 200-mph race cars weave through downtown Chicago.

The televised Cup Series event on July 2 will feature a 12-turn, 2.2-mile racecourse, with top NASCAR drivers navigating Grant Park on closed-off streets lined with temporary fences, grandstands and hospitality suites. McDonald’s will have branding on a section of the course, at the start/finish line in front of Buckingham Fountain and additional locations throughout the event’s footprint.

A separate Xfinity Series race, the second tier of NASCAR competition, is scheduled for July 1.

“NASCAR plays such an important role in sports culture, so we’re thrilled to be the first founding partner of this race in our hometown of Chicago,” Elizabeth Campbell, senior director of cultural engagement for McDonald’s, said in a news release.

The Chicago Street Race is the first race-level NASCAR partnership for McDonald’s, which sponsors the 23XI Racing team featuring drivers Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick. Now in its third season, 23XI Racing is co-owned by former Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan.

While McDonald’s is the first founding partner of the Chicago Street Race, NASCAR, which has set up a Chicago sales office, is planning to announce additional corporate sponsors as the event approaches, a spokesperson said Wednesday. Landing McDonald’s may help NASCAR make further sponsorship inroads in Chicago.

“McDonald’s is an iconic global brand with roots in Chicago, so it is the perfect founding partner for one of the most anticipated sporting events in NASCAR’s 75-year history,” Julie Giese, Chicago Street Race president, said in the release.

NASCAR anticipates 100,000 attendees will partake in the weekend festival that also includes full-length concerts ranging from country to electronic dance, headlined by Miranda Lambert, The Chainsmokers and The Black Crowes.

Two-day general admission tickets, which include the races and the concerts, went on sale last month, starting at $269.

In November, NASCAR began selling two-day reserved tickets starting at $465. Premium club seats run a lot higher. At the top of the list are temporary hospitality suites perched above the pit road, where tickets for the President’s Paddock Club cost more than $3,000 each.

NASCAR struck a three-year deal to transform the Grant Park environs into a temporary racecourse. Under the terms of the agreement, NASCAR will pay the Chicago Park District a $500,000 permit fee this year, $550,000 in 2024 and $605,000 in 2025, with an option to renew for two years. In addition, NASCAR will pay the Park District a $2 fee per admission ticket, and an escalating commission starting at 15% for food, beverage and merchandise sold at the event.

The course will start on Columbus Drive in front of Buckingham Fountain, taking in stretches of DuSable Lake Shore Drive and South Michigan Avenue along the way.

NASCAR has full access to the racecourse area for nine days prior to and three days after the event. But the total staging window — the process of building and breaking down the temporary facilities — runs a full month, starting three weeks before the race weekend, according to the agreement.

There has been growing concern about possible disruption to the Museum Campus during staging and the race weekend itself. NASCAR said Wednesday it is working with the city to finalize a traffic and event management plan to present to the City Council in the coming weeks.