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Nascar-Chili-s-Corey-La-Joie-7.jpg Brinker International Inc.
Chili's Grill & Bar is teaming with NASCAR's Corey LaJoie at the Daytona 500.

Restaurant brands rev up NASCAR season with partnerships

Chili’s, Chuck E. Cheese and Virtual Dining Concepts tie into motorsports culture ahead of Daytona 500

With the Daytona 500 race on Sunday launching the NASCAR Cup Series season, restaurant brands are increasingly tying into motorsports culture.

Restaurant brands as varied as casual-dining Chili’s Grill & Bar, family entertainment Chuck E. Cheese and ghost-kitchen company Virtual Dining Concepts have partnered with NASCAR players for promotions.

Chili's Grill & Bar, the signature brand at Dallas-based Brinker International Inc., has a new partnership with Spire Motorsports for the upcoming 2024 NASCAR Cup Series race season. Chili's is the primary sponsor of Spire's No. 7 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 driven by Corey LaJoie, at the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18.

Chuck E. Cheese, owned by Irving, Texas-based CEC Entertainment Inc., and Hendrick Motorsports launched co-branded "Racing World" video content on its official Chuck E. Cheese YouTube channel. The two companies offer a behind-the-scenes look into professional racing.

Los Angeles-based Virtual Dining Concepts, in partnership with NASCAR and DoorDash, last August announced NASCAR Refuel, a virtual restaurant brand.

NASCAR Refuel debuted prior to the NASCAR Xfinity Series Wawa 250 at Daytona International Speedway and is available to order across the country, launching with DoorDash and on the NASCAR Refuel smartphone app and the official website. Both are from DoorDash’s white-label fulfillment platform, DoorDash Drive.

Chili’s said it will be an associate sponsor on Feb. 25 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, March 3 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and March 24 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Chili’s has more than 1,600 restaurants in 29 countries and two U.S. territories.

"We strive to partner with brands that want to embrace the spirit of motorsports and share our love for pushing the limits both on and off the track," said Jeff Dickerson, Spire Motorsports co-owner, in a statement. "Our partnership with Chili's at the Daytona 500 will set a fun precedent for the season to come.”

Chuck E. Cheese has entered into its second year of partnering with Hendrick Motorsports, and the entertainment chain is offering participants a chance to win free e-tickets based on the performance of Hendrick’s lineup of drivers, including #5 Kyle Larson, #9 Chase Elliott, #24 William Byron, and #48 Alex Bowman.

Through Nov. 11, participants can win up to 1,750 free e-tickets every week whenever the team places in the Top 3.

Chuck E. Cheese’s "Racing World" program with Hendrick offers licensed products and merchandise, kid-focused content and a smartphone app game.

Nascar-Chuck-E-Cheeses-racing-world-creative-tee-module-hms-estore-chuck-e-estore-a.pngChuck E. Cheese also expanded its collection of co-branded "Racing World" merchandise at retail locations for both kids and adults, including t-shirts, wrapping paper, hats, and shoes.

David McKillips, CEC president and CEO said: “We have so many new and engaging integrations on the horizon, and we can’t wait to continue celebrating major milestones with Hendrick Motorsports in 2024."

Jeff Gordon, four-time NASCAR champion and vice chairman of Hendrick Motorsports, added, "The past year has been incredible, working with Chuck E. Cheese to bring the thrill of auto racing to even more families than ever before."

CEC has nearly 600 Chuck E. Cheese locations. It also owns the Peter Piper Pizza brand and the virtual Pasqually's Pizza & Wings brands.

Virtual Dining Concepts debuted NASCAR Refuel before the Xfinity Series Wawa 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

“As a NASCAR fan myself, I know the crowds on race day are there for the excitement of the sport, and of course for the food,” said Robert Earl, founder of VDC, in a statement. “Our menu highlights specialties from NASCAR racetracks, so race fans can enjoy the NASCAR food experience year-round at home.”

Chosen from 12 NASCAR-owned racetracks around the country, NASCAR Refuel’s delivery-only menu features “Refuel Combos” and individual items including the Daytona Firecracker Dog, Talla-Mento Dogwich, Darlington Pimento Cheese Sandwich, and the Refuel Burger.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on X/Twitter: @RonRuggless

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