NASCAR Retains A Super Brand But In An Expensive Domain


NASCAR has become the most successful motorsport brand in the USA. However, other series are suffering massive financial issues as sponsors drop out in the current economic climate and experts point to a drop in US motorsport sponsorship in 2009.


A key advantage to NASCAR and its success has always been accessibility. Formula One by comparison is rather elitist and while popular with many nations has not really been popular in the USA where NASCAR thrives.

Nevertheless, the significant financial woes of corporate America is likely to be an issue soon for NACAR too. In F1, a number of sponsors have gone or are going to disappear soon (banks in particular such as Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) for instance which have been keen supporters of Grand Prix racing in recent years).

NASCAR has come from the relative wilderness of being seen as a rather “hick” backwater of the south to a mainstream US phenomenon (with limited success elsewhere) in little more than a decade or two. However, this is the first really challenging environment economically NASCAR has faced. Moreover, as a flag waving US championship, the financial problems of the big auto makers for instance General Motors is a serious issue.

Moreover, recent research from consultancy IEG anticipates a 6% fall in motorsport sponsorship in the USA this year (from $3.5billion to $3.3 billion). If so, this would the first such fall in sponsorship since IEG began tracking motorsports sponsorship in 1985.

Nevertheless, NASCAR may be more flexible than other series such as Formula One. In F1 sponsors usually stay the same (and liveries are essentially fixed by regulations) for an entire season. NASCAR, on the other hand has been much more used to race by race deals throughout its commercial development.

That said, the costs of NASCAR have risen dramatically and while their drivers are now earning similar remuneration to their Formula One cousins, the “fixed cost” portion of their retainers is much lower as they earn directly from prize money and also considerably from merchandizing revenues. This year household names such as Tony Stewart may have to be even more open to the public to try to retain their overall incomes…


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