Sports in Focus: Carvana sponsors Chicago Fire of MLS; Zeigler Automotive on board with NASCAR team
Carvana is making a major move into Major League Soccer.
The online used-vehicle retailer has joined MLS’s Chicago Fire FC as the club’s front-of-kit sponsor, with its logo to appear across the front of the home and away jerseys of the Fire’s first team, as well as its MLS Next Pro team and Chicago Fire Academy, for all preseason, regular season and postseason matches.
The multi-year agreement also names Carvana as the official online auto retailer and the presenting partner of the Fire’s regular season.
“Carvana is an innovative company that has changed the automotive industry,” Chicago Fire FC owner and chairman Joe Mansueto said in a news release, “and we’re excited to launch this partnership and to explore creative and unique ways to fully integrate our brands to best service our wonderful fans and the greater Chicago community.
“We’re thankful that Carvana has chosen to partner with the Fire and will work with us to positively impact our local community and help grow the beautiful game through support of the club’s youth programming through Chicago Fire Youth Soccer and Chicago Fire Foundation programming.”
Carvana has had a presence in the Chicago area since 2019, when it built one if its signature car vending machines in Oak Brook, Ill., and it has since added another in nearby Schaumburg. Co-founder and chief brand officer Ryan Keeton said the company’s partnership with the Fire “underscores our commitment to the Chicagoland area. We can’t wait to kick things off and look forward to connecting local fans to the team and the game they love.”
As part of the partnership, Carvana will be integrated across Chicago Fire Youth Soccer Club and community engagement initiatives and will be the presenting sponsor of Chicago Fire Discovery Centers, a talent identification platform created to build on the Club’s existing scouting network by providing new pathways for players, especially from outside the pay-to-play model, to be selected for the Chicago Fire Academy.
The company will also be involved with what the club called “fun new unexpected experiences” for its fans through the newly created Carvana Delivery Platform, including programs rewarding “Most Valuable Parents”, families in need, season ticket holders and area youth soccer players.
Fire president of business operations Dave Baldwin stressed the importance of the front of kit sponsor to a soccer club and said, “Carvana’s incredible support will allow us to continue to invest in the club, both on and off the pitch.”
Zeigler Auto Group to sponsor NASCAR team in 2024
Zeigler Automotive Group, based in Kalamazoo, Mich., has partnered with Spire Motorsports as a sponsor of its No. 77 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for nine NASCAR Cup Series races in 2024, beginning with the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18.
Zeigler.com and Zeigler Auto Group will be the team’s primary sponsor for seven races – at Talladega Superspeedway (April 21), Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 26), World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis (June 2), Nashville Superspeedway (June 30), the Chicago Street Race (July 7), Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 21) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (Oct. 27), and co-primary sponsor for the events at Daytona and Michigan International Speedway (Aug. 18).
The car will be driven by 20-year-old Michigan native Carson Hocevar, a four-time winner in NASCAR’s Craftsman Truck Series. Hocevar drove the Spire Motorsports car in nine Cup Series races in 2023, with a best finish of 11th in his fourth start, at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. He also posted two top-10 finishes in four NASCAR Xfinity Series starts this year.
“We know Carson will do a phenomenal job representing Zeigler Auto Group on and off the track,” Zeigler Auto Group and Zeigler Racing president and CEO Aaron Zeigler said in a news release. “Having Carson behind the wheel of the new Zeigler.com No. 77 Camaro was a perfect fit with him being from Michigan, our home state.”
Hocevar said he’s excited to “show some hometown pride” as driver of a car sponsored by Zeigler.
“It’s a dream come true for a kid from Michigan to be supported and sponsored by a company from Kalamazoo,” he said. “I grew up in Portage, just a few miles south of Zeigler’s headquarters, so that makes the partnership personal. I can’t thank Aaron Zeigler enough for the opportunity and for taking a chance on me. We’re going to do our very best to make everyone from Zeigler proud.”
Zeigler Automotive Group is one of the largest privately-owned dealer groups in the U.S., operating 84 franchises in 41 locations in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. The family-owned company has been involved with the NASCAR Cup Series since 2019 and previously partnered with Spire Motorsports in 2022.
“This is a big moment for Spire Motorsports and Carson Hocevar,” Spire Motorsports co-owner Jeff Dickerson said. “It’s important to have partners that can identify with their driver and vice versa. I think we’ve found exactly that.
“It feels like the perfect match. I got to know Aaron Zeigler and his team when we worked together in 2022 and we’ve become great friends. They see the same potential in Carson that we do.”