QSRs Race Toward NASCAR Sponsorships

NASCAR racing has become one of the most-watched sports in America, with a total audience delivery of 2.47 million viewers across 20 races in 2023, according to data provided by NBC.

NASCAR is a key player in garnering the corporate sponsorship of some of the world's largest brands, including several QSRs.

Here is a look at some of the larger QSR and Fast Casual sponsorships and how they work with marketing efforts.

Longtime NASCAR team sponsor McDonald's was recently named the inaugural promotion partner for the NASCAR Chicago Street Race that will take place July Fourth weekend in Grant Park.

The sponsorship is the first race-level NASCAR partnership for McDonald’s, and will give the brand a highly visible presence at the two-day pop-up race course.

The burger giant also sponsors the 23XI Racing team -- which features drivers Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick and is co-owned by former Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan.

Chili's used this year’s sponsorship as an opportunity to promote its Presidente Margarita with its "Catch a 'Rita' "No. 7 Chevrolet, driven by Spire Motorsport's Corey LaJoie. The brand also prominently featured the sponsorship and the branded car itself in an online and TV campaign.

George Felix, senior vice president and CMO of Chili's parent Brinker International, Inc., told QSR Insider on the brand’s return to NASCAR, “Interestingly, Chili’s was the primary sponsor for a car in 1989, so it's been more than 30 years, and we couldn’t be more excited to reenter the world of motorsports by working with Spire Motorsports and Corey LaJoie…”

Felix added: “We found out that NASCAR fans specifically love casual dining, with 68% of NASCAR fans reporting they've visited a casual dining restaurant in the last 30 days. So, when we were presented with the opportunity to partner with Spire we knew this would be an incredible partnership.”

Wendy's went big with its 2024 NASCAR activities -- pun intended.

The brand was a key sponsor, in a partnership with honorary race starter DJ Khaled, of the 66th Daytona 500 -- using the opportunity to promote its Biggie Bag special.

Wendy's activations at the race included an in-field experiential zone featuring mini-golf and an onsite drive thru with themed merchandise available to purchase. Wendy’s is also a longtime partner of NASCAR, sponsoring Trackhouse Racing.

Raising Cane's kicked off its 2024 sponsorship of driver Toni Breidinger with a national marketing effort, the 2024 Speed Campaign. According to the brand “the Speed Campaign elements will feature Toni and her Cane's-sponsored race car, with our… chicken finger meals at the forefront – paralleling our Speed of Service with the speed of the racetrack.”

The campaign includes in-store signage, online video and promotions in addition to social media. Breidinger has posted several co-branded Instagram posts with the chain, viewed by her more than 2.1 million followers.

Chuck E. Cheese also put its tail in the race for a second season, sponsoring Hendrick Motorsports. The partnership has gone beyond a car wrap and fire suit, with a mobile “Racing World” game, contests, merchandise and new promotions with social content. The kids’ entertainment chain also brought back its They Win, You Win promotion, tying winning NASCAR races to free E-ticket give aways, and created a collectible Chuck E. Cheese Die-Cast replica model car, available for purchase at Chuck E. Cheese locations this summer.

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