NASCAR’s Commitment to Community

by Savoy Staff

In July 2022, NASCAR announced perhaps the boldest move in its storied 75-year history with the first-ever NASCAR Cup Series street race to be held in downtown Chicago.

More than just one of the year’s most anticipated sporting events, the Chicago Street Race also showcased NASCAR’s decades-long commitment to community involvement and stewardship in all the cities it races. Developing this spectacular two-day sports and music festival in Chicago’s iconic Grant Park over Fourth of July weekend required a level and depth of community engagement unique to America’s top Motorsport.

“We didn’t want to be an organization that comes in, runs a race, and leaves – so we knew that in order for Chicagoans to begin to truly embrace NASCAR, we had to commit to the city in long-term, meaningful ways that go well beyond the race weekend,” said Julie Giese, Chicago Street Race President. “That’s why we established an office of nearly 20 team members, many of whom are local Chicagoans, who live, work, play, and volunteer in the community 365-days a year.”

With a three-year commitment to the city of Chicago, NASCAR has also worked to bolster its presence in the community by partnering with local non-profit organizations to further their impact and deepen NASCAR’s more than 20-year commitment to increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts across the sport.

To that end, in less than a year, the NASCAR Chicago Street Race sent 220 local youth to summer camp, donated 200 bikes and helmets to local kindergarten classes, contributed $50,000 for gaming upgrades to the Chicago Parks District Teen Centers, and hosted Boys & Girls Club youth for behind-the-scenes STEM experiences – all part of the league’s recently launched NASCAR IMPACT platform.

But as a hallmark of every NASCAR community development effort, the Chicago team has sought to build on the long-standing tradition of multi-year engagements, particularly through its partnership with Chicago Public Schools (CPS). This spring, more than 22,000 CPS students participated in a NASCAR-themed academic competition – called STEAM Fest – designed to educate and inspire students from every neighborhood in Chicago, particularly those who did not grow up around racing and its many career opportunities.

“For more than two decades, NASCAR has been committed to initiatives focused on increasing representation and participation of women and people of color. The Chicago Street Course presented us with a unique opportunity to engage and empower those same communities year-round,” said Brandon M. Thompson, Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion at NASCAR. “With several activations and programs already well-underway, we are proud to work with the city of Chicago and are confident that this approach will help inspire and engage new race fans from Black and Brown communities.”

Building on that success, NASCAR and Chicago Public Schools collaborated to introduce a new NASCAR-themed STEM curriculum, which will be rolled out city-wide to more than 20,000 eighth-graders this fall.

The Chicago Street Race also featured some of NASCAR’s trademark community engagement events, including Bubba’s Block Party at the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center on June 28th.Bubba’s Block Party is a national community-focused initiative developed by NASCAR and 23XI driver Bubba Wallace himself that aims to drive awareness, access, and engagement among the Black community. Already drawing significant crowds in cities like Richmond, VA and Birmingham, AL, this program is one of many ways NASCAR welcomes potential new fans while generating excitement around upcoming race weekends.

For NASCAR, Chicago represents much more than just another stop on its 38-race schedule. It’s a new frontier for the sport, both in terms of the on-track action, but also in its ability to drive meaningful impact. With community at the core, NASCAR is committed to a wrap-around approach throughout Chicago, a blueprint that will serve both the sport and the community for years to come.

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