Colby native Giese tabbed to oversee NASCAR’s Chicago Street Race

Julie Giese has been the president of Phoenix Raceway since 2018
Phoenix Raceway president Julie Giese at the racetrack in March 2020.
Phoenix Raceway president Julie Giese at the racetrack in March 2020.(WSAW)
Published: Sep. 4, 2022 at 9:35 PM CDT
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CHICAGO, Ill. (WSAW) -Julie Giese grew up a race fan. Whether it races in her hometown Colby, Marshfield, or race tracks around the state, she always gravitated toward a night in the grandstands.

“Growing up on a dairy farm, my dad is a big race fan,” said Giese. “I remember watching races with him as I was growing up.”

However, racing wasn’t initially going to be her profession. Instead, she pursued a career in agriculture and animal genetics at UW-River Falls. Then, during an internship, she realized it wasn’t her passion.

“I was grateful for that internship,” said Giese. “That’s when racing recently started to take over and think about, ‘I could work in racing. That’s something that I love.”

Giese relentlessly pursued that dream of being in racing, something she had to fight to do. After seemingly endless rejection letters (many of which Giese has to this day), Giese broke through. In 2001, Giese took a job at Watkins International in New York, launching her racing career. After years of working in the industry, she received a major opportunity in 2018. She was chosen to be president at Phoenix Raceway.

In her time in Phoenix, Giese has seen a lot. Weathering a pandemic, opening a new facility and hosting a NASCAR Championship, Giese has had success in her role. Now, coming up in November, Giese will watch her final race as president of the raceway, another running of the NASCAR Championship.

“It’s a little bittersweet,” said Giese. “I’m so excited because it is really going be a championship. It’s the culmination of what this team has been working toward for many years.”

The bitter is leaving behind a place she’s come to love, with fans she’s come to love. The sweet is seeing a final product, for one, but also the next chapter. In July, Giese was named president of a new, ambitious venture. In 2023, NASCAR will host its first-ever ‘Street race’ through downtown Chicago. Overseeing the operation; Julie Giese.

“I’d say humbling is more of an accurate word,” said Giese. “It’s truly an honor to be part of this event and to be a part of a team that’s going to make history for our sport.”

The Chicago Street Course will be one of a kind. The over two-mile course will run through downtown Chicago, the first race of its kind in NASCAR.

To do it in Chicago, which is such an iconic city anyways is great,” said Giese. “The location we’re going to be in with that beautiful skyline, with the lake, Grant Park- it couldn’t be more perfect in my opinion.”

Not only is it an opportunity of a lifetime for the lifelong race fan, it’s also a chance to race closer to home.

“Let’s add to the fact that I get back to my Midwest roots, get close to home, I’m just a car ride away, rather than a flight to family and friends, which I’m really looking forward to,” said Giese. “It’s really the icing on the cake for me.”

Filled with thankfulness, Giese is appreciative of the opportunity to do something so historic within the sport she loves. She’s all the more excited to share this journey with the legion of Midwest racing fans just like her.

“People underestimate how many race fans we have in Wisconsin,” said Giese. Like all the short tracks, you can go just about anywhere on a Friday or Saturday night. You don’t have to drive very far to get to one of those.”

The first-ever Chicago Street Race runs July 1-2, 2023.

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