Blog Entry

Sponsor numbers not adding up for some teams

Posted on: November 1, 2011 9:50 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 10:22 pm
By Pete Pistone

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(The days of associating one driver with a single sponsor for the entire season appear to be long gone)

The calendar has turned to November and there are still three races left in the 2011 Sprint Cup Series season. 

But the NASCAR world never slows down and while we still await the outcome of this year’s championship, plans for next year are finally coming into focus. 

Unfortunately it’s not a very pretty picture. 

Economic woes and the lack of sponsorship dollars are shrinking the Sprint Cup Series garage area at an alarming rate. The financial crunch is so strong it’s not just impacting mid-level and small teams but the superpowers of the sport as well. 

Roush Fenway Racing, Richard Childress Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing will see their stables contract while an entire organization like Team Red Bull’s very existence remains in doubt. 

“We’ve gone through a transition with our sponsors, going from a time when they wanted to compete for the top car to now where the sponsors want just enough of a car to be able to do their promotions," said Jack Roush, who faces shutting down his No. 6 Cup team unless last minute sponsorship for 2012 is found to replace UPS.

"It’s a really strange time. I’ve never seen anything like this. I’m not sure what we’ll have coming out of it. It will be different than it’s been in the past." 

Seeking one sponsor to foot the estimated $20 million bill to keep a top flight Cup team on track is virtually impossible in today’s climate. But even splitting that cost over the course of 36 races between multiple corporate backers is also a tough task. 

The merry-go-round of sponsors that now adorn Sprint Cup cars throughout the season makes for a variety of different color schemes and logos to associate with drivers and some argue that has taken away a great deal of NASCAR’s identity. 

In the not too distant past colors and logos were indelibly attached to drivers who were immediately recognized on track by fans who made the instant connection between man and machine.

Jeff Gordon’s colorful DuPont paint scheme. Rusty Wallace and the iconic Miller Lite “Blue Deuce.” Mark Martin and the Valvoline logo. And the most famous of all Dale Earnhardt in the silver and black Goodwrench Chevrolet. 

Today you can’t tell the drivers or their cars and colors without a scorecard on a weekly basis. 

Current Chase point leader Carl Edwards rarely carries the same look two weeks in a row rotating the No. 99 through a maze of sponsors including Aflac, Scott’s, Subway and Kellogg’s. 

Next year he’ll see Fastenal and UPS join the line-up all of which is just a necessary element of today’s NASCAR sponsorship game. 

"You have to put the pieces together," RCR’s David Hart told "It’s 20 races here, 10 races there and then getting someone for the last six races. You have to combo sponsorships together to run your race team. 

"This wasn’t all of a sudden and the hammer came down. You started to see it in the mid-2000s and, when the economy went down in 2008, it continued on that path. You have to look at the possibilities if you don’t have your number. You have to cobble sponsors as you can. You are looking to get as few as possible, but you want to get that number by bringing people to the table." 

Some teams like the Childress organization approach the sponsorship quest by bundling all its resources together and selling partners on a total experience rather than individual race cars. 

“We at RCR do it a little different,” Childress said. “We try to sell our whole company and corporation. The driver is a huge part of it because he plays a large role in the marketing of the product but we also try to sell RCR and make sure that we get the return on the investment for all the companies that we’re associated with. 

“At the end of the day I work for every one of these companies and I want to make sure I do a good job to get the return on their investment.”

The money squeeze is having a significant effect on next year’s landscape and forcing several well known names to the unemployment line. 

Among those Sprint Cup drivers who appear to be on the outside looking in include David Ragan, Brian Vickers and the most recent addition David Reutimann, who won’t return to Michael Waltrip Racing next year in favor of the team running a limited schedule in the No. 00 car with veteran Mark Martin. 

The story gets worse over at NASCAR’s number two and three divisions in the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series. Several teams in both circuits are struggling to find the necessary funding to compete in 2012, meaning sleepless nights for the likes of Reed Sorenson, Jason Leffler, Todd Bodine and even four time truck series champion Ron Hornaday

With current team owner Kevin Harvick deciding to sell his equipment to RCR, Hornaday has two races left with KHI before he finds himself out of work. 

The news came as a bit of a shock to the veteran who says the environment in today’s NASCAR world makes it extremely difficult for even a driver of his talents to find a competitive ride. 

“You sit there and you talk to people and they all want you to bring money,” Hornaday said of many team owners. “I’ve never done that. I got a phone call from Dale (Earnhardt, Sr.) in ’94 and I started driving for him. I got the same phone call from the Dr. Pepper team with Dave Carroll, and I got the same phone call from Richard Childress then Kevin Harvick called me.

“They know I don’t have three million bucks or two-and-a-half million dollars so I don’t hear my phone ringing but I keep winning races. There are some kids out there that are bringing some money and coming in here. I hate to say it, but that’s where this sport is going. You see Cup cars out there with no name on them and everything else.” 

There could be more of that on display next season with some of the sport’s biggest names piloting cars carrying only numbers.

Because right now for many NASCAR organizations at all levels of the sport the most important numbers aren't adding up.

For more NASCAR news, rumors and analysis, follow @ppistone on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 

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Since: Oct 21, 2011
Posted on: November 15, 2011 1:50 am

Sponsor numbers not adding up for some teams

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Since: Aug 17, 2010
Posted on: November 4, 2011 2:41 pm

Sponsor numbers not adding up for some teams

One Team they Did NOT mentiona is Richard Petty Motorsports...After looking quite blearly last year they have quickly turned their ship around. They give me hope for the #43 yet. 

Since: Feb 1, 2009
Posted on: November 4, 2011 9:07 am

Sponsor numbers not adding up for some teams

Well it is like this, if you pay out a lot more than is collected then thing will disappear.  Drivers can only win 6 mil or so to win a championship but is paid 3 times that...heres the signnnnnnn

Since: Dec 18, 2009
Posted on: November 3, 2011 4:09 pm

Sponsor numbers not adding up for some teams

It's not that tough to figure out. Nascar should start running fewer cars in these races,
enough of these "field filler" cars that pull off the track after 50-60 laps or when they
are out of tires or wreck because they can't compete. I think it would be more competitive
too. I hope they can figure it out for the better of the sport.

Since: Nov 3, 2011
Posted on: November 3, 2011 3:10 pm

Sponsor numbers not adding up for some teams

Let's face it, nothing is exactly profitting right now, whether it be a sport, business, or otherwise.  I think NASCAR might be in for a bit of a contraction if the economy doesn't improve, perhaps even going back to smaller fields on race days.  Teams that are struggling just to start-and-park aren't going to be running soon without some help.  I have a feeling the Giants of Hendrick, Childress, Roush, and Gibbs are going to be even more elite because they will soon be the only ones with enough money to do so.....however, their stables may contract, moving capable drivers to other teams.  That might actually work to even the playing field.  Will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the future.

Since: Jan 13, 2007
Posted on: November 3, 2011 1:27 pm

Sponsor numbers not adding up for some teams

Mikey, I tend to agree with you on some of things you're saying but I just purchased 4 tickets to the Ohio State  game this weekend and they are just average seats and cost me $70.00 per seat(face value and luck to get them),Brickyard tickets are $80.00 and plenty of cheaper seats available.The Speedway even dropped prices on many seats because of lack of interest and this is going on at many tracks throughout the country.I think you'll find once football season starts interest in racing takes a hit,while racing  is popular,....  for that matter no sport compares to footballs popularity in this country.

Since: May 18, 2011
Posted on: November 3, 2011 12:18 pm

Sponsor numbers not adding up for some teams

Mikey, the one finger salute has been going on long before Jr. fans started hating Kryle Busch...come on now. Tongue out
   It's all in the economy, track prices are increasing because it costs more for energy consumption, hiring staff, cleaning up after a race weekend, etc.  The price to put on a race has increased dramatically with the increase in energy prices.  Also, a downturn means not enough marketing dollars to go around for companies, not necessarily just for NASCAR, but for everything.  To be honest, I'm not sure there is anything NASCAR can do to ease the burden on their own.  I'm not sure how you would lessen the financial burden associated with running a full season without jeopardizing the on-track product or driver/crew/fan safety.  Tracks are losing money as it is, without corporate backing for their racing venues, and can't really afford to ease much burden either.  I think NASCAR is in for a long, rough road in the future.  I feel like the fate of NASCAR as we know it is linked to the strength, or weakness, of our economy.  While there will always be racing to watch somewhere, whether local tracks or nationally sanctioned NASCAR events, the landscape of NASCAR may be in for a big change from what we've seen recently.  This may be what it takes to bring an end to the "Super-teams" like HMS, RCR, RFR, and Gibbs.....perhaps bringing some of the little guys back into the fray.

Since: Apr 18, 2010
Posted on: November 3, 2011 11:08 am

Sponsor numbers not adding up for some teams

Not sure if anytyhing can be done about it.. but I'ld say 20 million to fund a top team is pretty outrageous. I know when they limited the time each car gets to practice on the track was an attempt to cut that down abit. Other than the top teams, who else can afford that kinda number?

Since: Aug 15, 2006
Posted on: November 3, 2011 8:13 am

Sponsor numbers not adding up for some teams

buckeye - college sports are a lot cheaper than going to a race and in the NFL serveral teams do not sell out their games. That is something the NFL has been battling for a while now.  With the advent of the LED TV's the pictures are so much clearer and you don't have to fight with the crowd.  or the drunks.

I know people don't want to hear this, but some of the problems at NASCAR tracks is a certain fan base, likes to get drunk then stand up and give the one finger salute to certain drivers, i.e. Kyle Busch, when he moves ahead of their driver, i.e. one number 88.  They do this and don't care that there is a 5 year old sitting right behind them or beside them and they think it's cute.  Why do you want to subject you family to that. 

I'll agree the cost to go to a race has gotten out of hand.  To get a solid seat at Charlotte for example it cost about $125 per person.  While when you break that down to by the hour it's not too bad as a race like the 600 takes about 5 hours that's $25 per hour of racing but if you have to pay to camp or a hotel, then souviners etc it is an expensive weekend. 

What's the answer?  not sure, but NASCAR needs to find some way to cut cost.  Maybe lower purses etc can be an answer but teams are going to point to the TV contract and say don't cut our throat with lower purses.  Standardized engines, won't work because that makes everyone equal and that's no fun to watch. 

I would agree with more short tracks as they bring out more drivers skill than the speedways do.  Myself I think they can change the design of the cars to make things more interesting.  Stand that windshield up to about 85 degrees creating a hugh draft.  Take the spoiler and valance of the cars and make these drivers drive the car, instead of letting the aerodynamics of the car keeping them glued to the surface. 

Does that mean we will see speeds of say 170 MPH instead of 190 on the 1 1/2 tracks, probably, but it also means that drivers will have to drive the cars,  Brakes will be necessary because the car won't squat and glue itself to the track, possibly more wrecks to begin with, but in the end it should make the racing a lot more exciting to the fans and that in turn will make it more exciting for the sponsors to sponsor the cars. 

Since: Apr 10, 2008
Posted on: November 3, 2011 7:03 am

Sponsor numbers not adding up for some teams

So many good comments ... what could I add.

Well, the races are less appealing and I say greed is a major cause. When NASCAR allowed so many 1.5 mile tracks to fill the schedule one race looked just like another. And I say greed because of the number of seats available. Since the economy has changed, those seats are now empty.

I really miss a lot of the old traacks. Short tracks mainly. Not enough seats for the expansion years.
We have some amazing drivers now. And we have the excitement of "boys have at it." These are good things. NASCAR needs to work on ways to put more emphasis back on the driver. Whatever car gets to the front first seems to run away from the field until the next caution flag, then the first out of the pits leads.

I really hope Hornaday gets a ride. Kevin sold his own ride. Todd Bodine should still be in a competitive truck. Just my opinion.

... done ramblin'
charis kai eirene

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