by Steve Wronkowicz
I am co-host of the syndicated radio show: ON PIT ROW. Over ten years on the air and three on the net; see what can happen when I don't let the facts get in the way of my opinions.January 6, 2009 10:31 am UTC 3 Comments
Sponsorship parameters in NASCAR have changed once again.
What had been easy picking for the last decade or so have become forbidden fruit. There are long time sponsors in the Cup series that appear to be locked in forever. Dupont with Jeff Gordon seems to be in the sport for the long run. But; if Gordon were to decide to retire after 2009, would that sponsorship hang around for a young up and comer?
STP started the big time sponsor gig with the Pettys in the 1970′s, but even that long time supporter couldn’t hang on at the prices that were being demanded by the sport. Lowe’s and Home Depot have been in the sport a long time, but how long can they justify the expense of big time car racing? Will Home Depot be as happy with the sport if Joey Lagano isn’t an immediate success on and off the track?
Teams have had to split sponsorships of their cars between several sponsors over the past five to ten years to collect the kind of cash needed. More and more of that is occurring each year. It was a phenomenon that snuck in slowly and almost without notice. Fans would see a Carhart #17 every so often instead of the more familiar DeWalt decals on the Roush Fords. It was viewed as just a way to give an associate sponsor some more “air” time. Little did we all know that this split sponsorship stuff was and is a necessity.
Tony Stewart had to line up sponsorship for his new ride and went to Office Depot and Old Spice to fill up the travelling billboard. Even NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., had to have Pepsi and The National Guard to share some responsibility. This trend will only get worse until race teams get costs under control. Costs have spiraled upward in recent years due to the proliferation of specialists in the garage area. Tire specialists, shock specialists, areo specialists and more too numerous to mention may give way to the automotive jack-of-all-trades again.
And this leads us to this week’s BUZZ ON PIT ROW:
Will the new economy of NASCAR eventually result in a better, stronger sport; or is this the begining of the end of the sport as we know it?
photo credit: Icon Sports Media