Chicago on a Global Stage: How NASCAR Chicago Drives Tourism - City Club of Chicago
Chicago on a Global Stage: How NASCAR Chicago Drives Tourism

Chicago on a Global Stage: How NASCAR Chicago Drives Tourism

moderated by NBC Chicago 5's Leila Rahimi
Julie Giese (Chicago Street Race), Jeff Behnke (Motorsports, NBC Sports Group), Marty Snider (Pit Reporter, NBC Sports) and Kara Bachman (Chicago Sports Commission)

Wednesday, Jun 5, 2024
Doors Open at 11:30 am / Event Begins at 12:00 pm


Maggiano's Banquets
111 W. Grand Avenue
ChicagoIL 60654

Map and directions


Kara Bachman

Kara Bachman is the Executive Director of the Chicago Sports Commission (CSC), a part of Choose Chicago, the official destination marketing organization for the city of Chicago. As Executive Director, she’s responsible for leading Chicago’s efforts in recruiting high-profile, major sporting events that help create visitor demand, drive significant economic impact, create jobs and generate positive media exposure for Chicago. 

Joining CSC in January 2012, Bachman was promoted to Executive Director in April 2014. Under her leadership, Chicago has won highly sought-after business with national and international appeal, such as: 2015 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final, the 2015 & 2016 NFL Draft, 2016 Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, multiple Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournaments, multiple NCAA Championships, including the 2017 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship, 2018 Laver Cup, 2020 NBA All Star, the first-ever NASCAR Chicago Street Race (2023), among others.

Bachman’s influential network extends globally and includes major professional leagues with the MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL and WNBA to some of the highest regarded international federations and national governing bodies, such as FIBA, FIVB, USA Basketball, USA Hockey, USA Rugby, USA Volleyball, World Rugby, etc. Bachman was responsible for bringing the NFL Draft to Chicago in 2015, for the first time in 51 years it was hosted outside of New York City; she's also lured international brands like the New Zealand All Blacks to the Chicago market, driving record-breaking attendance and occupancy rates that benefit locals and visitors alike – including the 2016 test between NZRU and IRFU resulting in the Irish defeating New Zealand at Soldier Field for the first time in 111 years.

A native Chicagoan and life-long athlete, Bachman started her career in sports as part of the Chicago 2016 Olympic Bid Committee. Bachman’s passion for her city and commitment to Chicago’s future is evidenced by her dedication to leadership and the praise of her peers. She was named to Crain’s 40 under 40 Class of 2016, where she was recognized as one of Chicago’s most influential leaders. In 2017, she was named to the Class of 2017 for Leaders Under 40 Awards, a global search for the best talent in the business of sport under the age of 40; and most recently, recognized by Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association (IHLA) with the 2023 Ambassador of Hospitality Award. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame (since 2017). She’s a member of the City Club of Chicago and the Economic Club of Chicago.


Bachman is a graduate of the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University of Chicago and holds her M.B.A. in International Business and Finance. She earned her B.A. in International Relations from Colgate University and was a member of Colgate’s Division I Women’ Ice Hockey team. 

Jeff Behnke

An 11- time Emmy Award-winning sports television producer and executive, Jeff Behnke joined NBC Sports in January of 2013, as Vice President of NASCAR Production. Operating out of Charlotte, N.C., Behnke serves as the day-to-day leader in all areas of NBC Sports’ NASCAR production efforts.

In addition to overseeing production planning and editorial content for NBC Sports’ NASCAR coverage, Behnke also oversees production planning for NBC Sports’ coverage of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, SuperMotocross, and IMSA.

Julie Giese

Julie Giese is President of the Chicago Street Course, leading the bold initiative to bring NASCAR racing to city streets for the first time in the organization’s 75-year history. Under Giese’s stewardship, the inaugural NASCAR Chicago Street Race Weekend drew visitors from all 50 states and 15 countries to Chicago and resulted in more than $108 million in economic impact for the city. Named “Best New Event of 2023” by Sports Business Journal, the 2023 Chicago Street Race was the most-watched Cup Series race on NBC in six years and NBC’s most-streamed NASCAR race ever.

From 2018-2022, she served as President of Phoenix Raceway, overseeing the promotion and operation of the top motorsports and entertainment destination in the Phoenix market. While leading Phoenix Raceway, Giese also oversaw the marketing efforts for NASCAR’s 13 national series track properties in her role as NASCAR’s Vice President, Track Marketing. Prior to those roles, she served as the Managing Director of Business Operations for International Speedway Corporation’s (ISC) Design & Development, leading the coordination between ISC’s 13 race tracks, internal corporate departments and the Design & Development team on the company’s significant capital investment and redevelopment projects, including the $178 million modernization project at Phoenix Raceway.

Joining ISC in 2001, Giese has taken on roles with increasing responsibility, from Director of Public Relations at Watkins Glen International to Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Daytona International Speedway, where she spent 12 years overseeing all aspects of consumer marketing, branding, creative, advertising, digital, public relations and event entertainment at the “World Center of Racing.” Giese played a leading role in the redevelopment of the Daytona International Speedway, managing the marketing and branding of the project as well its opening in 2016.

Giese has been recognized as one of Forbes’ “Women in Sports to Watch,” Sports Business Journal’s “Game Changers,” AZ Business Magazine’s “Most Influential Women in Arizona,” Cynopsis’ “Top Woman in Sports,” and Axios Chicago’s “Power Players.”

Giese, a native of Wisconsin, is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Marty Snider

Marty Snider serves as a pit reporter for NBC Sports’ NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series and INDYCAR coverage. Snider is also the pre and post-race host for NASCAR studio coverage and regularly contributes to NBC Sports’ fan-favorite NASCAR call-in show NASCAR America Motormouths.

Snider previously worked with NBC Sports as a NASCAR pit reporter from 1999 until 2006, and on assignments for Football Night in America and the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In addition, Snider has covered Professional Bull Riding, off-road racing and open wheel racing for NBC Sports.

Leila Rahimi

Leila Rahimi is the main sports anchor at NBC 5 Chicago, anchoring weeknight sportscasts, and “Sports Sunday,” the weekly in-depth sports program. She joined NBC 5 in November 2021. She joined NBC Sports Chicago in 2015, where she served as a pregame and postgame host for both the White Sox and Cubs, and also was a sideline reporter for the Chicago Bulls, along with hosting and anchoring various sports shows for the network, covering Chicago area sports. 

Additionally, Rahimi has worked for NBC Sports national broadcasts, including two Olympic Games—in South Korea in 2018, and Beijing in 2022, serving as the rinkside reporter for the men’s and women’s hockey tournaments.

Rahimi also hosts on 670 “The Score” weekly on the “Bernstein and Holmes” show, along with filling in regularly for both hosts. In 2021, when she was named a full-time cohost there, she was the first woman in station history to co-host a regular weekday show, as half of “Bernstein and Rahimi.”

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