Saturday, September 18, 2010

NASCAR: Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon among other drivers struggling to find sponsorship for 2011.

As NASCAR continues to grow and the cost of racing also continues to grow, the search for sponsorship becomes increasing harder. But now with a recession going on and companies cutting advertising budgets and at the same time looking for new ways to get there product in front of the consumer, that pursuit for sponsorship dollars becomes even tougher, but even then while I’m not surprised that some NASCAR teams aren’t finding sponsorship considering performance on-track and results is what sells, I am surprised that top drivers like the two-time Cup Series champion and team owner Tony Stewart and 4-time Cup Series Champion Jeff Gordon are.

Tony Stewart:

During the normal press conferences at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Sylvania 300 and race 1 of the chase for the Sprint Cup, Tony Stewart touched on the on-going search.

IN YOUR SEARCH FOR SPONSORSHIP, HAVE YOU BEEN FORCED TO TRY NEW APPROACHES OR APPROACH DIFFERENT KINDS OF COMPANIES THAT YOU DIDN'T NECESSARILY THINK YOU WOULD TRY TO REACH OUT TO? "I think you always have to be that way. I think you always have to think outside the box. When you're selling something, and you go in there with the same approach that everybody else has, what makes your organization stand out from theirs? I think that's kind of the way we thought about it from day one because we were a new company anyway, so it was easy to start with new ideas and a new approach."

EVEN WITH THE ECONOMY IN A SLUMP, IS IT SURPRISING THAT GUYS LIKE YOU AND JEFF GORDON, STARS OF THE SPORT, ARE LOOKING FOR SPONSORS AT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON? "Not necessarily. We all understand the situation. We all understand why corporate America has had to pull the reigns back a little bit. So is it a surprise and a shock? No, not necessarily. If you look in this garage area, it's still a thriving sport and it's still represented by a lot of Fortune 500 companies. I wouldn’t stand here and say that we're all in bad shape, because the sport is very healthy right now. All you've got to do is walk through the garage area and see that." (Source: Team Chevy Transcript)

I have heard and read several things (rumors and speculations) over the past few weeks that a few sponsorships including Mobil 1 might end up on Tony Stewarts car. It had been announced that Mobil 1 wouldn’t be returning to Penske Racing and of course Penske Racing has signed a huge deal with Shell-Pennzoil for the next season to be on the #22 Shell/Pennzoil Penske Racing Dodge while Brad Keselowski will now drive the famous #2 Miller Lite Penske Dodge. (Read more on Shell-Pennzoil deal)

And keep in mind that Tony Stewart is also looking for part-time sponsorship for Ryan Newman next year as well.

Jeff Gordon:

During the normal press conferences at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Sylvania 300 and race 1 of the chase for the Sprint Cup, Jeff Gordon briefly touched on the on-going search.

HAS THE SPONSORSHIP THING BEEN DISCOURAGING FOR YOU WITH NOT HAVING DUPONT THE WHOLE SEASON AND THE WALMART THING, ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT A DRIVER OF YOUR CALIBER IS EVEN IN THIS POSITION? “I’ll be honest, as a driver, it’s not something that I put a lot of thought into. I mean, I certainly would like to see us with a sponsor that could be really good for our organization. Good for the sport and good marketing and wants to be a part of our program and get behind it. Right now, my focus is on driving and trying to go out there and be as good as we can be in the Chase. That is pretty much the message that has been sent to me through Rick (Hendrick) is don’t worry about it. We have got a lot of people working hard on it and it’ll come together. The Walmart thing was a little disappointing because I feel like everybody was wanting to see that company in this sport for a long time and we would have loved to have represented them. But, I’m so excited to be involved with DuPont and Pepsi and sponsors that we have had for a number of years. I think we still have some things that are going to come together.” (Source: Team Chevy Transcript)

Jeff Gordon’s hunt for sponsorship is actually due to his current sponsorship DuPont is scaling back their sponsorship to part of the season, which leaves the other part of the season open. At this point, I really haven’t heard or read of any company looking to step up and take over the rest of the schedule that DuPont isn’t sponsoring.

Now it was talked about that Wal-Mart could fill that role, but those talks have gone away. As of now, I have no idea who will sponsor Jeff Gordon next season with DuPont…I would say Pepsi or National Guard, but they both are sponsoring Dale Jr. too and that’s a lot of money like maybe 20 million dollars per year.

But I will say that if Sprint wasn’t in the sport as they are now and didn’t have exclusivity in the Cup Series, Verizon and AT&T would make great sponsorships for any team. I know that Verizon wants in to the Cup Series, it’s not possible with Sprint in the picture and that sucks. But I do wonder where UPS, Mobil 1 and a few other sponsors will land next year, it might be September, but I expect some sponsorship news within the next month or two.