NASCAR early-season recapPublished May 16, 2011
Even Bristol Motor Speedway has struggled to fill the grandstands.
The deal UPS has with Roush Fenway Racing is among those up for renewal.
NEW MONEY: The team sponsorship market has shown signs of life as new sponsors appear intent on jumping into the sport. Hendrick Motorsports signed one of the most important deals of the season to date, a five-race agreement with Farmers Insurance. Tommy Baldwin Racing, a smaller team, signed a 19-race agreement with Golden Corral. Both signings indicate that corporate marketers are interested in more than just taking calls from race teams.
REALIGNING THE RANKS: NASCAR restructured its front office in late April, shifting responsibility for all intellectual property areas to Chief Sales Officer Jim O’Connell and digital responsibilities to Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps. CEO Brian France anticipates the moves will improve the organization’s sponsorship and licensing sales, allow digital to be used as a marketing vehicle to drive interest in the sport, and free up NASCAR Media Group President Paul Brooks to focus on upcoming TV rights negotiations.
The Daytona 500 win by youngster Trevor Bayne got the season off to a quick start.
DAYTONA CINDERELLA: Trevor Bayne became the youngest driver to win the Daytona 500 by holding off Carl Edwards and taking the storied Wood Brothers Racing team back to Victory Lane. The story garnered a tremendous amount of media attention and earned the 20-year-old Bayne appearances on “Lopez Tonight,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” and others. Most importantly, it shined a spotlight on NASCAR at the start of the season.
THREE PEOPLE TO WATCH
Richard Petty Motorsports
The team is under new ownership and less than a year removed from near collapse. It hired Brown to lead its business operations, and the former AOL head of ad sales has a tough job ahead of her. Best Buy is up for renewal on the team’s No. 43 car, and co-owner Andrew Murstein has said he’d like to expand the team from two to three cars next year, which would require new sponsorship money.
Bristol Motor Speedway
The former vice president of corporate sales at Speedway Motorsports Inc. stepped into a difficult situation in Bristol when he replaced the well-regarded and late Jeff Byrd. He will be working hard to sell out the August night race and boost attendance at next year’s spring race.
Vice president, digital,
The former managing director of business operations was recently promoted and placed in charge of NASCAR’s digital efforts. The company sold its digital rights to Turner in 2005, and Jenkins will be challenged to develop a plan around rights the series doesn’t control.