Elk Grove's NASCAR sponsorship fee is $100K more than it paid for Bahamas Bowl

Elk Grove Village officials Tuesday night formally inked a marketing deal worth $400,000 a year to sponsor NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski's car in the upcoming downtown Chicago street race.

The two-year agreement - with a third year option at the same rate - represents the Northwest suburban municipality's latest unconventional sports marketing sponsorship to promote its sprawling business park.

It affixed its "Makers Wanted" tagline to the Bahamas Bowl college football game in 2018 and 2019 for $300,000 a pop and paid $175,000 to back three USA Olympic teams last year.

The $400,000 fee - formally passed through Banner Collective, which negotiated the deal with Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing - was regarded by Mayor Craig Johnson as a good price for the unique partnership that will be on display in the July 4 weekend race.

"We were told by the racing industry that Chicago's race will rival Daytona for sponsorship value," Johnson said. "The business park is so full and doing well because we market."

The village board's agreement approval Tuesday follows Johnson and Keselowski's grand entrance in the No. 6 Ford Mustang stock car outside Elk Grove High School Oct. 17. Keselowski raced down Elk Grove Boulevard and did a donut before driving up to the school entrance, where the school band, cheerleaders and assembled media were waiting.

Johnson said the idea to get involved in auto racing was his son Craig Jr.'s, back in February. But after initial conversations with the Banner agency, which helped broker the Bahamas Bowl deal, the mayor started backing off the idea because many NASCAR races are held far from Elk Grove Village.

Then came Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's announcement in July that the city and NASCAR had reached a three-year deal to bring races to the downtown streets.

"We thought, let's kind of do something unique. With Chicago being our favorite suburb, we wanted to have a car in their race," Johnson quipped.

Banner talked with two other racing teams, but Keselowski's soon became a good fit; the 38-year-old driver also owns Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing, a North Carolina hybrid manufacturing company that specializes in additive metal technologies and computer numerical control machining. His announcement with the mayor last week coincided with the annual Made in Elk Grove Manufacturing & Technology Expo, a daylong exhibition, awards and networking event that highlighted businesses in the industrial park.

Under the deal, Keselowski is expected to make one more appearance in Elk Grove Village next July, then two more in conjunction with the following year's street race.

The village also gets Keselowski's car from last season - already decked out in Elk Grove and Makers Wanted logos and branding - to bring to community events like the upcoming tree lighting. It's stored at a public works garage, but Johnson took it out for a spin last Friday.

"We are the town that thinks outside the box for sponsoring our community," Johnson said.

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