NASCAR’s Attendance Problem and its Impact on Sponsorship

A far too common sight at racetracks across North America is the removal of tens of thousands of seats.  Most recently, Dover International Speedway reduced the total number of seats a fourth time to accommodate 54,000, a large reduction from the 135,000 capacity in the early 2000’s. There is no shortage of pessimists who see seat reduction as a sign that NASCAR is dying and no longer a consumed sport.  If the fans and media see diminishing capacity as a negative, what is the impact for sponsorship in NASCAR?

Sponsorship revenue is the lifeline of all race teams, accounting for a large majority of a race team’s budget.  With the competitive nature of the product on track it can be said that the sales team competes just as much in securing sponsorship partners as the cars on the track.  Business development representatives, like myself, constantly look for new partners willing to use the exposure of NASCAR as an outlet to increase awareness and drive a positive ROI to their brand.

Once a potential sponsor has been identified and shows interest in partnering with a race team, teams highlight the positive assets of NASCAR and the consumption through TV/Social Media/Radio as well as the at track exposure.

At Track Experience

After all the calls, emails and analytics have been exchanged with a potential sponsor, the final step is for them to attend a race.  This step is ultimately the most crucial in the sponsorship process as it not only showcases your brand and the team, but ultimately the power of the NASCAR experience and audience.

The NASCAR experience is unlike any in professional sports in terms of fan engagement and offers opportunities for brands to connect with the second largest demographic of 18-49 year old fans (only behind NFL).

In most other North American professional sports, it is highly uncommon for a brand to be synonymous with a player, but in NASCAR it is automatic.  When you think of the current and past stars of NASCAR you can associate them with one or two brands, think: Lowes, Goodwrench, M&M’s, etc.

That message trickles over to the fans that wear their favorite drivers apparel and share sponsor allegiance with their driver. Specifically, NASCAR fans are 39% more likely to always buy products or services from NASCAR sponsors and 56% more likely to engage with a brand due to a NASCAR sponsorship.

But what happens when you bring a potential new sponsor to the NASCAR experience with high expectations and the stands are half full? A sponsor wants to see stands, campgrounds and infields packed full of new potential customers and opportunities for brand engagement and retention.

In this current landscape, all major sports (NFL, MLB, NBA, etc.…) are seeing a steady decline in attendance, NASCAR included. So, not only must a team manage expectations at the track, they must inform and educate sponsors of the various touch points needed to create a 360-degree NASCAR program that can be successful.

The Modern Age of Consumption

In today’s technological climate, consumers have never had access to as many entertainment options in history.  While traditional television numbers still play a large role in exposure, marketers are now learning the habits of second and third screen viewing options (i.e. viewing entertainment on a tablet or mobile device while also consuming related content on a television).

With the current technological advancements and accessibility of large screen tv’s and a wealth of entertainment at one’s fingertips, sports venues are having a hard time convincing fans to attend in person. With the rise in popularity of “homegating” (tailgating at home) many fans see it as easier and cheaper to sit in front of a 65” television with surround sound in a climate-controlled environment and enjoy a better vantage point than one would see in person.

This dilemma looks like a problem – on the surface – but, for a potential, and forward-thinking sponsor it presents opportunity.  For instance, with the understanding of how second screen viewing works, teams can offer opportunities through digital and social assets that help immerse consumers with branding to multiply the exposure. No longer are race teams and sponsors relegated to the television coverage or at-track visibility being the only mediums in which their brand is represented.

But What About the Tracks?

Earlier I addressed Dover’s capacity decrease and the case is the same for almost every racetrack that NASCAR visits, even marquee venues Daytona and Talladega have decreased seating in recent years.  A potential sponsor in the sport could look at those actions as a yellow flag and proceed with caution, but the truth is that tracks are adjusting to the market and reallocating and reinvesting into their venues.

ISC (International Speedway Corp), SMI (Speedway Motorsports Incorporated) as well as Dover, Nashville, Indianapolis and Pocono who own tracks NASCAR attends, have plans to generate new engagement areas for fans to immerse themselves in the NASCAR experience.  Often overlooked at the height of NASCAR’s attendance boom of the 90’s and 2000’s, fan experience has become the focal point of tracks in this modern era.  From infield and garage fan zone experiences to upgraded camping amenities with luxury RV spots taking the place of many demolished seats, tracks have learned you don’t need a grandstand seat to still enjoy the at-track experience.

Tracks such as Bristol, Pocono, Watkins Glen and Talladega to name a few, boast outstanding camping atmospheres.  It is not uncommon to see empty seats at these venues during a race, but more often than not, fans are either in the campgrounds or infield consuming the race and enjoying the atmosphere.  It is no longer necessary to physically sit in a seat at the track to take in the NASCAR experience.  For a sponsor, this presents an opportunity to include at-track engagement in the fan zones or campgrounds to support and reinforce their brand.

Teams Must Be Experts for Results

With the options for allocation of marketing dollars today at an all-time high, race teams can no longer expect to simply brand a car on track and expect significant results for sponsors.  Today’s NASCAR teams must be flexible and innovative to provide a complete marketing program and engage consumers on all touchpoints.

While tracks may no longer have as many fans in the stands as in previous years, it is still possible for sponsors to reach NASCAR consumers through different mediums by understanding their habits and preferences for enjoying NASCAR.

At Spire Motorsports, we work tirelessly to stay up to date on consumer trends and offer sponsors turnkey solutions to inject their brands into the NASCAR fanbase.  If you are interested in how Spire can help your brand reach the largest concentration of brand loyal consumers contact me directly at:  astamey@spiremotorsportsllc.com

When is the Best Time to Engage a Team for Sponsorship?

Have you considered sponsoring a race team to market your product or services, but not sure when the right time to get started might be?  This blog post will walk through the “rules of engagement” for a sponsorship.  After reading this post, you should have a clear understanding of when the best time to engage a team for sponsorship is.

Having worked with multiple brands with their NASCAR programs, I have seen multiple reasons why companies seek out sports to market their goods.  This direction can come from a change in leadership, a new product launch, a new budget season or simply a new understanding of how sports can benefit your company.

Either way, something has triggered the company to believe they should be investing in sports and specifically NASCAR teams to help accomplish their sales and/or marketing objectives.  There is no magic time of the year to get started.  As mentioned earlier, there are various reasons for engaging a team for sponsorship.  A new budget cycle often drives new sponsorship conversations.  Perhaps your product or service is seasonal – meaning there are peak times of the year that consumers engage with your brand.  You may have a product that is very popular in the spring time and you typically see a lift in sales during that season.  With a seasonal product, you may want to capitalize on the popularity or campaign for stronger sales during a traditionally more dormant time of the year.  Both strategies are triggered by the calendar year.

Let’s say you represent a construction product and the largest construction trade show is coming in January next year.  You really want to make a huge impact and believe that having an association with a NASCAR team could really help you stand out from your competition because NASCAR is so popular within the construction industry.  You plan to sponsor a race team so that you can promote this association at your tradeshow booth where all your target customers will be swooning at the upcoming January trade show.  This decision is driven by the timing of the event.  Just reverse engineer your plan to determine when you need to start conversations with the race team about sponsorship.  In this example, an event is driving the timing for engagement.

NASCAR teams will engage in conversation with potential sponsors at any point throughout the calendar year.  You might be thinking that you want to wait until the off season to start the conversation so that you don’t “bother” the team during the season.  Most race teams have dedicated business development persons that are not involved in the competition side of the team and the sole focus of these sales team members is to sell, regardless of the time of year.   Also, the “off season” in NASCAR is so short and holiday-filled, if you wait to start conversations after the last race of the season, you run the risk of not being ready for the biggest event of the NASCAR season – the Daytona 500.

Rarely do sponsorships come together from start to finish in a matter of weeks.  It doesn’t have to take a long time, but realistically, an investment of six figures or more typically does.  Generally speaking – once a sponsorship is decided on, the assets are agreed to, the dollar amount is confirmed – weeks have gone by.  Again, this doesn’t have to be the case, but many times it is.  We are all busy and have businesses to run that take our attention away.

This brings me to the point of emphasizing planning.  When you get ahead of the timing – knowing a season is coming and reverse engineer your starting point – you plan better.  Meaning you have had more time to think through the decision, how you will use it best, how you will announce the new sponsorship, how you will activate your new assets, who will oversee the sponsorship, what new business opportunities will arise from the sponsorship and how you will address the new business.  There is much value to planning a well thought out sponsorship with the right people.  You don’t have to do this alone either.  I know of several companies and individuals around the U.S. that specialize in strategic sponsorships, helping new companies plan out their launch and execution of the sponsorship.

The best time to engage a NASCAR team around sponsorship is today.  I would encourage you to be upfront and realistic with your timing, but don’t wait.  A team might be in conversation with your competitor and this might block you from being able to work with a certain race team.  Go ahead and pick up the phone, don’t delay.

If we can help you navigate the timing or you have other questions around sponsorship, I would encourage you to contact us.  We are happy to help you plan out the timing of your next sponsorship!

SPIRE MOTORSPORTS TO SHOWCASE ARK.IO AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY

CONCORD, N.C. (April 8, 2021) – ARK.io will serve as the primary sponsor of Spire Motorsports’ No. 7 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE and driver Corey LaJoie in Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

ARK Ecosystem (ARK.io) is an international open source software development company. Its primary focus is building innovative technological solutions for the Blockchain and Cryptocurreny industry.

“I am extremely excited to sponsor Corey (LaJoie) for the fourth year in a row,” said Travis Walker, ARK Co-Founder. “We’re thrilled about his move to Spire Motorsports. I also support a late model program in the Midwest that runs the No. 7 so that’s a fun synergy between the two teams. I’m also very thankful for his manager as well, keeping everything running smoothly and allowing me to continue to help with designing the livery. I look forward to seeing Corey back on a short track and our continued relationship into his bright future in this sport.”

A blockchain is a digital record or ledger of transactions. The name comes from its structure, in which individual records and transactions are gathered and verified in large chunks, called blocks, once verified this block of transactions is linked together to the previous block forming a chain of blocks. Blockchains are used for recording transactions and are the underlying technology behind cryptocurrencies, such as ARK and Bitcoin. Blockchains have many other applications, as well.

“It’s awesome to have ARK.io back this weekend,” explained LaJoie. “I’m grateful to Travis and everyone at ARK for the support they’ve provided me, personally, over the last several years. He’s also a late model team sponsor and former kart racer, so he gets it. I appreciate that he continues to believe in me. ARK.io it the world’s simplest way to blockchain, so I’d urge anyone who may have a need for digital record keeping to consider ARK’s services. Statistically, Martinsville is one of my best tracks and it’s also the first true short-track race of the year, so I’m excited to see what my Spire Motorsports team can accomplish this weekend.”

Spire Motorsports jump started its 2021 campaign with a pair of top-10s in the Daytona 500 where Jamie McMurray and LaJoie finished eighth and ninth, respectively. Justin Haley returns to the seat of the team’s No. 77 Diamond Creek Water Camaro this weekend after veteran dirt racer and Camping World Truck Series regular Stewart Friesen handled the driving duties two weeks ago at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“We’re looking forward to having ARK.io and Diamond Creek Water on board our cars Saturday night at Martinsville,” added Spire Motorsports co-owner T.J. Puchyr. “We had a great start to the season at Daytona and everyone has been working hard to get better ever since. The team had a much-needed weekend off but I think everyone is itching to get back to the race track. When you think of NASCAR tradition, one of the first tracks that comes to mind is Martinsville. From my perspective, it doesn’t get much better than 500 laps on Saturday night.”

The Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 from Martinsville Speedway will be televised live on FS1 Saturday, April 10 beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). The eighth of 36 races on the 2021 NCS schedule will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

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About Spire Motorsports …
Spire Motorsports was established in 2018 and is co-owned by longtime NASCAR industry executives Jeff Dickerson and Thaddeus “T.J.” Puchyr. Spire Motorsports earned an upset victory for the ages in its first full season when Justin Haley took the checkered flag in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 7, 2019.

About Ark.io
ARK empowers everyone, regardless of their aim or technical background, to quickly and easily leverage blockchain technology. ARK provides the tools and resources that enable individuals, developers and startups to apply blockchain technology as a foundation for their own projects, applications and ideas. For more information about ARK, please visit ARK.io.

The Five Points of Entry For A NASCAR Sponsorship

When most people think of a NASCAR sponsorship, they immediately think of a branded car racing 200 mph down a track with a driver in a branded fire suit. While they are not wrong – this is the most obvious sponsorship tactic, after all – it is not the ONLY way in which potential sponsors can enter the sport through sponsorship. As a potential sponsor, it is important to understand the types of sponsorship opportunities available to you and how they can help your business. Ultimately, when contemplating a NASCAR sponsorship, there are five primary points of entry (think ways to sponsor): the league (NASCAR), race teams, drivers, race tracks, and media.

League
A sponsorship at the league level is essentially a sponsorship of NASCAR. An easy example of this entry point is the NASCAR Cup Series title sponsors. In 2020, Anheuser-Busch, Geico, Coca-Cola and Xfinity signed up for entitlement sponsorship.

As the series entitlement sponsors, those brands benefit from having their names directly attached to the most popular form of motorsports in North America. As the title sponsors of the top series in NASCAR, they gain tremendous brand exposure and loyalty from the sport’s fan base.

Sponsorship at the league level does not provide direct access to teams or drivers. Instead, it allows companies the opportunity to associate their brands with the NASCAR logo and use “Official Partner of NASCAR” in their branding/messaging. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available with the league and are scalable, including NASCAR.com, which has shown tremendous growth in recent years.

Team
Sponsoring a NASCAR race team is very similar to the same sponsorship in more traditional “stick and ball” sports, where you have rights to use the logos of the team and are an “Official Partner” of the team.

Race team sponsors are the companies and the brands that you see on the race cars each and every weekend. No other point of entry in NASCAR sponsorship allows access to the car branding. With a race team sponsorship, you are forward facing to the race fans and gain visibility like no other opportunity in sports.

As an example, Axalta is a founding partner of the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL. When the Eagles were lifting the Lombardi Trophy, after winning the Super Bowl, there were no Axalta logos on the players jerseys. In contrast, look at any photo from a NASCAR Victory Lane celebration and you will see the sponsors of the team prominently displayed for all to see.

All team assets, including the car, are branded. This list includes, but is not necessarily limited to, the driver, driver/crew fire suits, truck and hauler, track equipment, social media/PR support and content production.

Driver
Sponsoring a driver is most often connected to race team sponsorship. This makes sense as the driver is obviously very closely connected to the team. However, a driver sponsorship can be done independently as a point of entry, and when done directly, it is referred to as a Personal Service Agreement (PSA).

PSAs tend to revolve around things like clothing, watches, or items of that nature. These deals only entitle the sponsor rights to the driver. A PSA does not provide rights to a driver’s car number or access to images of him/her in their branded fire suit. Those assets are controlled by the team.

These deals are essentially paying a driver to be a spokesperson for your brand and work best when the driver has an authentic connection to the brand.

Tracks
The next point of entry is the tracks at which NASCAR events run. The most visible form of track sponsorship is a race entitlement. This is basically a “naming rights” deal for the race. Common examples include the Geico 500 or the Coca- Cola 600.

Race entitlement sponsorships come with assets such as tickets, suites, or hospitality opportunities. Another example of a track asset that can be sponsored is track signage. Track signage can take on many forms, such as large billboard signs around the race track, logos painted on the infield grass, logos on the walls of the track, and more, all of which are visible on the TV broadcast.

Another valuable way to reach fans at the track is the fan zone or the “midway” area. The midway is a large experiential display area (think fun, carnival atmosphere) where fans can interact and engage with brands who are showcasing their products. It is a destination for most fans on race day to walk around, buy their merchandise and get goodies/giveaways along the way.

Media
The fifth and final point of entry is media. Media, as a point of entry, can be considered as a standalone investment, but in most cases, it serves as a support tool for the other points of entry.

Spending money in media helps amplify a sponsor’s message and enhance their larger sponsorship spends in the sport. Opportunities within media include sponsoring the race broadcast on TV (Fox and NBC) or on the radio (MRN and PRN).

Further, investing in Public Relations, as a support tool, is always recommended but Social Media (including content) has become a hot channel recently as many brands are looking for unique ways to talk to their target audiences and cut through the clutter. Social Media and fun, branded content is now a common ask. So much so, that teams are building content studios and hiring content developers to meet the requests of their sponsors.

So, Which Entry Point is Right For You?
When considering the entry point options available for sponsors, it is important to have a firm grasp of what your goals and objectives are prior to making any decisions on spending sponsor dollars. Not every entry point is right for your brand and it can be cost prohibitive to do them all. It is common practice to explore more than one entry point to create the strongest sponsorship program possible. Having your goals and objectives set, and agreed upon, will help generate a stronger return on investment than by blindly spending and hoping for the best.

I can sponsor a NASCAR race team for $300K?

Did you know that you can sponsor a NASCAR Cup Series race team for $300k? What if I told you that yes, this is possible, and provided some insight into what an investment of that level might yield? Does this change your perception of how “expensive”, or not, NASCAR sponsorship can be? Let’s look to see what an investment of this size will provide for a sponsor.

As you are probably aware by now – if you have been reading along, each sponsorship engagement is different. There are differences in price, assets, activation methods, expectations, results and more. Each race team has a different way of deciding how much value to place on their sponsorships. Many variables come into play such as timing, inventory and other factors that can determine what price tag is placed on a certain asset at any time of the year. In short, what you pay, and what you get can vary widely from partner to partner.

For the purposes of this post, we will focus on the amount of $300k. For some teams, this amount will buy a sponsor a primary paint scheme for a single race, for others this amount might yield 2-3 primary paint schemes and yet for other teams, this amount might be a 3-race associate sponsor with limited branding on the car. Each team is different in their valuation of sponsorship.

If a team is performing at a high level and running up front, often winning races or finishing in the top 5 consistently, then $300k will not go as far as it might for a team running in the middle or back of the field each week. Keeping in mind, this isn’t absolute, as on-track performance may not be as important for certain sponsorship deals.

Still, the adage is still true “you get what you pay for”. I have known some sponsors to get a great deal on a race car sponsorship, only to find out what was promised is not what they received. This is very unfortunate as the decision to invest in NASCAR can be a major ordeal for a company and to feel like they didn’t receive the value or even the assets they were promised is terrible. When this happens, I can’t help but think “you get what you pay for” still rings true. To avoid this pitfall, it is crucial to fully vet the property (or properties) with which you are looking to align your brand.

So yes, it is possible to sponsor a NASCAR race team for $300,000. The caveat is that, depending on the team, the package of assets that come along with your investment will look different. Many folks often ask me “how much does it cost to get started in sponsoring a race team?”. I often reply that each team is different and there is no cookie cutter package. I want to hear what is going on with the prospect, why are they considering a sponsorship, what challenges are they looking to solve. I might have a solution that could help them, and it really doesn’t have much to do with sponsoring the race team in a traditional sense.

To illustrate this point, our team was speaking to a potential prospect recently and at first it sounded like the prospect was interested in sponsoring our race team. As we had more dialogue together with them and learned more about their business, we both realized that our team could help the prospect’s business outside the racetrack. The cost to do business became more of us acting as an extension of their outbound sales team and serving as an agency for them. The result of how we structured the partnership was very different than how it looked after the initial conversations. This is typical. I always like to have multiple calls or meetings with prospects to learn more about their business and educate them on how we operate and the tools we can provide depending on the situation.

Cost is dependent on the solution provided in my opinion. Race teams have budgets they operate from and it is very expensive to run a race team at the premier level in NASCAR. Our sport is heavily dependent on sponsorship dollars and I believe the properties looking for those sponsorship dollars must be creative with the assets and tools offered in return for the investment in the property.

If you are reading this and believe that you want to sponsor a NASCAR race team, but don’t have a $300,000 budget to spend towards it, there are other options. Perhaps you start small as an associate sponsor or provide a product trade with a team. Sometimes it might make more sense to place a radio or digital buy in the sport to get started before you become an Official Partner of NASCAR or a race entitlement sponsor at a track.

If you are ready to get started or have any questions about the cost of a NASCAR race team sponsorship, I encourage you to reach out to us directly. We are more than happy to talk with you about your goals and business opportunities within this sport that might make the most sense for you.

What You Get When Sponsoring a NASCAR Race Team

In a recent post, we reviewed the five primary points of entry into a NASCAR sponsorship. One of those points of entry is with a race team. As a race team, this is the area we obviously know the most about, so we want to provide a deeper look at the assets available to a sponsor through this type of sponsorship. By “assets,” we mean things that the team owns or controls, that can be leveraged to achieve the sponsor’s overall goals. Some of these will be a “no brainer,” while others will be less obvious, but all ultimately depend on the level of investment a sponsor is willing to make.

Before diving into the available assets in detail, it is important to understand that there are different levels of sponsorships available with race teams. The most frequently used terms when referencing sponsors are “Primary” and “Associate.” The main difference between the two is the level of investment by the sponsor. A Primary sponsor is, as the name signifies, the primary and most visible sponsor of the team. In contrast, an Associate sponsor can be looked at as a secondary or supportive sponsorship. No less important, but just not as “visible” as a primary sponsorship. The assets in either a primary or associate sponsorship package can be similar but are scaled differently based on the investment.

The most notable asset a sponsor receives in their sponsorship package is the race car. The race car can be thought of as a moving billboard that is visible on weekly NASCAR broadcasts on national television. The primary sponsor of the race car controls the design of the car or what is most often referred to as the “paint scheme,” “paint out,” or “livery”. The paint scheme affords the sponsor the unique ability to showcase their brand image and logo in a fun way to fans watching on TV and live at the track.

The primary sponsor also receives the most visible locations on the car to showcase their brand. These include: the hood of the car, the rear quarter panels (upper sides above rear tires), the roof area, and the TV panel (license plate area on your personal car). Associate sponsor placements are typically smaller in nature and placed in areas such as the lower hood area, the lower rear quarter panel area (behind the rear tires), the deck lid (top of trunk), B and C posts (area between windows).

Fun fact: While we commonly refer to car “paint schemes”, most cars are no longer painted. Instead, they are wrapped with vinyl decals, which allows for more elaborate designs.

Beyond the most visible of team assets – the race car – there are other pieces of team equipment used weekly by the race team at the track on the road. The most prominent of these assets would be the team tractor and trailer (or hauler). The hauler – which transport the cars and equipment from race to race – is similar to the race car in that it is designed and wrapped to showcase the primary sponsors with the associate sponsors receiving logo exposure. Think of the hauler as a mobile billboard for your brand that travels 50,000+ miles a year across the country.

The at-track equipment can include the pit box, tool box and generator, all of which have consistent branding throughout the year. The pit box, which serves as the command center for the team during the race, has areas where branding can change weekly to accommodate the different primary sponsors. This would also include a branded pit wall banner that is hung on the pit wall in front of the pit box on pit road.

All of the assets outlined above are those that are most commonly associated with a race team sponsorship. This is partly due to how most people think about a NASCAR sponsorship (i.e. a logo on a race car, or hauler, etc.), and also because those assets are the most visible.

Beyond these more obvious assets are those you may not think of when considering a race team sponsorship. They tend to be less tangible but can be equally, if not more important to an individual sponsorship program.

As we have mentioned in past blogs, B2B relationships have become an increasingly important aspect of sponsorship in the racing industry. A sponsorship investment with a race team gets you instant access to the other sponsors with the team and the sponsors within the sport at large. For some sponsors, these connections are the primary reason for considering a racing sponsorship. You gain membership to the “country club” of sorts.

Then there is the array of human resources that can be accessed and leveraged by a sponsor. Here we’re talking about the driver, the crew, and other team staff.

The driver is the face of the team and thus serves as the spokesperson for the sponsors. When you sponsor a team, the connection between driver and sponsor is very important as you want to make sure they fit your brand image and would serve as a strong brand ambassador. As a team sponsor, you are allowed to use the likeness and name of the driver to promote your brand and create a connection with race fans. Beyond using the driver in commercials and promotions, both the driver and the race teams crew wear branded fire suits that are visibly displayed to millions on a weekly basis.

By sponsoring a team, you also obtain their industry expertise within the sport. Most teams have seasoned veterans of the sport with experience on multiple sides of the desk who can serve as a helpful resource in navigating the NASCAR landscape. They can help you avoid landmines that others may have already stepped on and act almost like an extension of your marketing/brand team.

Another area where race teams can support the sponsorship is on the public relations, content, and social media side of things. Social media, content, and public relations are support assets that teams provide as part of any sponsorship. Race teams have dedicated personnel who work on promoting the team and sponsorship.

The PR reps travel each and every week with the sole purpose of finding ways to get your brand incremental exposure in unique ways. This can include features during the race broadcast, scheduled press conferences for special announcement or promotion, or placements in online and/or offline publications.

As original content creation, and social media, has become increasingly important for brands, race teams have also expanded their efforts in this area. Race teams often collaborate with sponsors on original content and social media initiatives to drive the sponsorship program on digital platforms.

This is just a brief overview of the potential assets available as part of a race team sponsorship. Of course, the specific asset mix that comprises each sponsor deal will vary, depending on the specific goals of the sponsorship program.

State of The NASCAR Fan and What It Means for Sponsorship

By Aaron Stamey

Companies spend vast amounts of time and money in creating profiles and understanding their target consumer. When a potential sponsor begins the vetting process of a NASCAR sponsorship as an outlet for their marketing engagement it is critical that their company’s demographics line up with the audience. Unfortunately, stereotypes have often portrayed all NASCAR fans as southern, beer drinking rednecks. While there may be some truth in stereotypes, NASCAR has one of the most diverse audience profiles in the entire scope of professional sports. Which leads us to: who exactly is the modern NASCAR fan and what does that mean for sponsors trying to reach that audience?

Understanding the NASCAR Fan
The demographics of the modern NASCAR fan have seen an increasing shift over the course of the past two decades. In fact, when comparing demographics, the sport that aligns most in comparison (and the one I find myself going up against from a sponsorship standpoint most often) is the PGA (Professional Golfers Association). NASCAR and the PGA almost mirror each other in the Male to Female consumer percentage with NASCAR leading the statistic with a 36% viewership with females according to the most recent data (Nielsen, 2018). NASCAR currently only trails the NFL in terms of viewership per event. On average, a typical NASCAR event averages 3.3 million total viewers with 1.1 million female viewers and 761,000 live television viewers in the 18-49 age demographic. So, who exactly is this core NASCAR fanbase?

The typical fan base breakdown of a NASCAR consumer shows that:
– 63/37 Male to Female ratio
– 66% own a home
– 33% have one or more children
– 50% have some college or beyond
– Average household income of $72,000/yr
– 24% Multicultural audience (up from 20% in 2011)

With a national reach, the largest fan base markets (LA, NY, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Tampa, Orlando, Wash DC, and Phoenix) each have approximately 1 million+ NASCAR fans and are growing.

Brand Loyal
NASCAR fans are notoriously brand loyal with 86 percent understanding that race teams cannot run without sponsorship. Following up on that understanding, 81 percent state that they “appreciate what a sponsor provides to the NASCAR experience”. With statements such as those, it is easy to see why NASCAR audiences index so very highly when it comes to sponsor appreciation and contributes to sixty three percent of millennial NASCAR fans stating they “always buy products from NASCAR sponsors”. An even bigger statistic is that fifty five percent of the coveted millennial consumer indicate that they will switch brands because of a NASCAR sponsor. NASCAR fans are truly a unique segment of the sports consuming population which actively consume and then respond to a sponsor’s message.

Tech Savvy Consumers
No longer is a NASCAR fan just consuming the sport on race day broadcasts or at the track. Reports show that the typical NASCAR fan consumes ten hours of NASCAR content per week across all platforms (social, digital, TV, etc…). Eighty one percent of fans also report utilizing a smart phone with seventy eight percent utilizing mobile apps. These numbers contributed to a heavily utilized and engaged audience base that helps deliver 2/3’s of the total NASCAR content consumed via digital and social NASCAR and team outlets.

What Does This Mean for Sponsors?
So now that we understand the demographic breakdown of the NASCAR consumer as well as brand loyalty and market growth, what makes NASCAR appealing over other sports?

For comparison’s sake, the situation business development representatives such as me find with most potential partners trying to decide between NASCAR and the PGA for sponsorship. What we must acknowledge is that the PGA does a fantastic job at understanding their brand and consumer, as does NASCAR. The ratio and core demographic age range of NASCAR and the PGA correlate very well to each other, with the main difference between the demographics being median household income. NASCAR has traditionally appealed to the middle class while the PGA targets a higher net worth individual. It is the sponsor’s job at that point to understand their product and who purchases it, as some products such as Rolex, Barclays, etc… are natural fits for the PGA (note that Rolex does have a relationship with
Daytona, but are not the pillar partner as with the PGA). While on the other hand consumer packaged goods and construction industry related products and services, etc… resonate better with the NASCAR audience.

Initially, it seems that the sports are competing for two different types of consumers, NASCAR with the middle income focused and PGA with the high net worth individuals. What the teams and sponsors are now seeing is an unprecedented crossover between the two sports. It is very typical for a golf tournament and race weekend to align schedule wise and find out that people are attending both events, one day at the course and one day at the track. Both sports excel in attracting a fan who enjoys the unique event experience that mimic each other, and sponsors appreciate the engaging client hospitality scale that each provides. It’s not uncommon for dozens of the team and sport sponsors to have in excess of 200 guests at each NASCAR race, but the key area where NASCAR shines is reach. NASCAR averages more viewers per minute (3.3 million) than any other sport, excluding the NFL. The next closest brand as far as viewers per minute is the NCAA with 1.9 million with the PGA averaging 1. million. So not only are sponsors projecting to a diverse audience, but a very large one as well.

We can conclude that the information shows the evolving reach of the NASCAR platform and the NASCAR fan which presents a great opportunity for potential sponsors. With the large fan base along with an evolving and diverse consumer it can be said that NASCAR offers the best dollar to impression ratio in all professional sports. Fans are now embracing the digital and social offerings in conjunction with the at track and terrestrial (TV and Radio) broadcasts. This creates a fully engaged, brand loyal consumer who is not averse to change and absorbs content across various touchpoints while actively interacting with partners in the sport.

How a Race Team Sponsorship Comes to Life

Each sponsorship throughout the sport of NASCAR comes to life in its own unique way. No two businesses are the same so neither should their activations. In order to see how a race team sponsorship comes to life, let’s take a look at how it all comes together in the beginning. The first step is fully understanding what a new partner wants to get out of their investment. This is the most crucial information in any partnership. A common misconception around NASCAR partnership is that as a sponsor, you are just getting a sticker on a car or a patch on a fire suit. The sport of NASCAR has evolved and morphed into a state where race teams can be looked at as a marketing agency that just so happens to have a race car as an asset. Some of the best partnerships in NASCAR are activated separately from the physical car. As an example, many companies enter the sport looking to raise their brand awareness. Seeing a logo on a car or a driver’s fire suit will help increase the brands recognition, but it takes much more for a targeted demographic to gain a full understanding of how a brands product can be used in their
daily life. Activations like driver appearances, show car appearances, fan zone displays, or even social media posts can be designed to gain a more personal and direct impression on your target demographic. A critical mistake takes place when company invests a massive amount of time and money into a sponsorship without fully understanding how they will reach demographic. A race team can be an ally and often the expert in the NASCAR space, but it is ultimately up to the business to have a solid grasp on what will best help their business grow and develop.

Typically, businesses will only have 3-6 percent of their audience make a purchase on a product. Of that 3-6 percent, the consumer will only stay in a buying mode for 30-90 days. The most important question becomes, how can a business elevate their brand above the competition quickly? NASCAR sponsorships can provide that opportunity. A race car allows for prominent logo visibility and provides access to numerous media sites. These serve as subtle reminders to that 3-6 percent of the product the company is promoting. This raises the sponsor’s brand awareness above the competition and should ultimately lead to sales. Remember, NASCAR fans are the most loyal consumers, they are proven to get behind brands that support this sport. Fans pay attention to which logo appears on their favorite driver’s car, fire suit, hauler, and all at track equipment. Fans will buy apparel to wear in their daily life that proudly display the name of their favorite driver as well as the brand that supports them. One of the many purposes a NASCAR sponsorship serves is to help companies increase their brand awareness and interaction opportunities, add unique content value, and value propositions (what makes the product intriguing to the consumer). NASCAR sponsorships can provide all these benefits on a weekly basis and generate more opportunities to help complete sales for the dedicated 3-6 percent interested consumer base. This process can work whether you are attempting to sell a widget, software, or simple consumables. The goal is to bridge the gap between the sponsor’s product or service and to take advantage of NASCAR fan loyalty by making them forget about any other competitor.

The final piece that is just as, if not more important than anything we’ve already discussed, is having a way to measure your sponsorship. Sponsorship measurement can come in many forms. Partnering your sponsorship with companies like Nielsen, GumGum or Navigate Research can provide easy measurement for TV, Social Media, Website Traffic and overall Return On Objectives (ROO). However, likely the most meaningful tracking can come from the people you interact with on a face to face level. Sponsors can send clients and potential customers to the track with all access passes to the garage and pit road areas. This gives an opportunity for executives to interact outside of a conference room or any office environment, similar to a golf outing at a Country Club. Here at Spire Motorsports, we receive many letters from CEO’s of major companies that write hand written letters to our sponsors thanking them for sharing the NASCAR experience with them. That is the power that comes from a NASCAR race team sponsorship. Hopefully you have a greater understanding of how a race team sponsorship comes to life in NASCAR. This behind the scenes look at how a race team sponsorship comes to life will help you plan accordingly as you consider investing in this type of platform. Crafted intelligently, your sponsorship can make a huge difference in your company’s bottom line!

Debunking the Top NASCAR Myths

Much of what you (think you) know about NASCAR is wrong. Here, we bust some of the more popular “myths” about the sport, and its fans.

NASCAR is on the Decline
Many people point to dwindling attendance and TV ratings as proof that NASCAR’s best days are behind it. However, that’s just not true. NASCAR is still as popular as ever. The NASCAR Cup Series is the #1 or #2 sporting event watched each weekend with over 4 million plus viewers each week. The sport has 80 million fans spread equally across the United States and those fans, on average, consume nearly 10 hours per week of NASCAR content across all media channels. (Source: NASCAR Fan Engagement)

Race Car Drivers Aren’t Athletes
This is perhaps one of the more hotly contested debates, and has been for quite a few years now. Once again, the history of the sport is having an effect on the perception of its participants. Years ago, it wasn’t uncommon to see a driver working on a car while smoking a cigarette. Heck, there were even drivers who smoked while IN the car (even if just during cautions). You know, because in those days, the cars were real stock cars, and even had cigarette lighters in them:

Today, drivers are fanatical about working out, and you are much more likely to find them training for a triathlon than smoking a cigarette. They do this to prepare their bodies for the extreme conditions they are subjected to for 3-4 hours at a time with temperatures well above 100, and lateral loads of 3-5 G’s. For comparison, a space shuttle launch exerts 3 G’s on the astronauts for a few seconds. NASCAR drivers endure those forces for 3-4 hours at a time, without no breaks, unlike other sports where breaks in the action (and time outs) are common.

But it’s OK, you don’t have to take our word for it … science is on our side:
https://www.motorsport-safety.org/media/news/science-proves-it-racecar-drivers-are-athletes

Oh, and this says nothing about the pit crews who support the driver during race weekends. Many of those crews have former NFL or college football players on the roster. So, yah, there are athletes all over the track on race weekends.

NASCAR is a southern sport
This may have been true at one time, but it’s certainly not true today. In the “good old days” of NASCAR, the circuit rarely ventured out of the South with races primarily in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina or Virginia. Today, the series runs events all over the country.

As the sport has grown over the years, it has spread out from its southern roots. Drivers and fans alike traditionally hailed from southern states. But today, 3 out of 5 NASCAR fans live in a region outside of the South and their geographic distribution mirrors that of the U. S. population. (Source: Nielsen Scarborough)

The Fan Base is Just a Bunch of Old White Dudes
Again, the sport’s heritage strongly influences this perception. But the modern day NASCAR fan is much more diverse than you may expect. Not only is the average age of a NASCAR fan within one year of the average age of all other major sports (Source: Nielsen Scarborough), NASCAR is #1 among major league sports in proportion to females viewing on TV (36%) and visiting the league site (44%). Female interest in the sport is also on the rise. Among new NASCAR fans (3 years or less), 58% are female (Source: Nielsen Co. and comScore).

Finally, in 2004 NASCAR formally launched an initiative to try and attract minorities and females to the sport. The Drive for Diversity program now counts among its alumni some of the popular young drivers in the sport today, including Kyle Larson, Bubba Wallace and Daniel Suarez. Whether it was due to this NASCAR initiative, or not, NASCAR is reaching more diverse audiences today. The proportion of NASCAR fans who are multicultural has increased from 20% to 24% in the past 5 years. Among new fans (3 years or less), 39% are multicultural (with 22% of them being Hispanic). (Nielsen Scarborough).

Many of the popular NASCAR myths are rooted in the sports origins and its history. Unfortunately, the public’s perception of the sport hasn’t evolved as much as the sport itself over the years. Don’t let conventional wisdom color your perception of a sport with national exposure, because it’s as popular as it’s ever been, and is reaching a more diverse audience daily.

SPIRE MOTORSPORTS, NFL ALUMNI PARTNER TO SUPPORT FOLDS OF HONOR CHILDREN’S FUND

CONCORD, N.C. (March 15, 2021) – Spire Motorsports announced today that it will partner with the NFL Alumni Association (NFLA) to support the Folds of Honor Children’s Fund for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Corey LaJoie’s No. 7 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE will feature a patriotic red, white and blue paint scheme and will showcase the NFL Alumni Association logo on the hood, decklid, TV panel and in front of the rear wheels. Meanwhile, Folds of Honor will be displayed on the upper-rear quarter panels and on the decklid of LaJoie’s machine.

The NFL Alumni Association was founded in 1967 and is the oldest and most recognizable national organization of retired professional athletes. NFL Alumni consists of former NFL players, coaches, executives, spouses, cheerleaders, and associate members. Part of NFL Alumni’s dual mission is “Caring for Kids”. Player alumni give back in their local communities by raising funds for youth-related charities through their 38 regional chapters. It is a tradition that has existed for more than 50 years. Alumni support typically raises more than $1.5 million, annually, for worthwhile causes.

The other half of NFLA’s mission, “Caring for our Own” is to serve, assist and inform its members and their families. Alumni members are offered a diverse package of wellness, business, career, and legal services to help members and their families be healthy, productive, and connected to one another.

“We want to thank T.J. Puchyr, Jeff Dickerson, Corey LaJoie and the entire Spire Motorsports team for partnering with us to help support Folds of Honor’s mission to provide scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service members,” said NFL Alumni Association’s Chief Executive Officer Beasley Reece.  “This is a cause that aligns perfectly with our mission of Caring for Kids and we are honored to help improve the lives of those children.  Please make sure you go to NFLalumni.org/foh to help us in this mission.”

Folds of Honor is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization that provides educational scholarships to families of military men and women who have fallen or been disabled while on active duty in the United States armed forces. Folds of Honor educational scholarships support private education tuition and tutoring for children in grades K-12, as well as higher education tuition assistance for spouses and dependents.

Founded in 2007 by Lt Col Dan Rooney, a PGA member and F-16 fighter pilot currently stationed at Tyndall AFB Florida as a member of 301st Fighter Squadron who served three tours of duty in Iraq, Folds of Honor is proud to have awarded more than 29,000 scholarships in all 50 states, as well as Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, including more than 4,500 in 2020 alone.

“When we were approached about flying the colors of Folds of Honor on the No. 7 Spire Motorsports NASCAR entry at Atlanta Motor Speedway, we were blown away that two great organizations such as the NFL Alumni and Spire Motorsports would go to such great lengths to help us raise money for our scholarship fund,” explained Ben Leslie, Executive Vice President of Folds of Honor. “On behalf of the recipients of our scholarships, thank you!”

LaJoie is a third-generation racer whose father and grandfather are members of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. He kicked off the 2021 season with a spirited ninth-place effort at the Daytona 500. The Concord, N.C. driver is currently 29th in the NCS point standings heading into the sixth race of the year.

His passion for charitable work has raised over $240,000 for the Christian organization SamaritansFeet.org. In 2019, he hand-wrote the names of each donor onto his car and attended driver introductions at Watkins Glen International with bare feet, underscoring the need to provide shoes to less fortunate individuals all over the world. He was acknowledged for his efforts by being recognized with the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) distinguished Spirit Award.

“It’s always exciting to support a great cause like the Folds of Honor on our race car,” offered LaJoie. “NFL Alumni does incredible work within their community and to see that organization integrate the Folds of Honor to support scholarship opportunities for veterans and their families is incredibly admirable. I’m proud to represent both organizations in the Quik Trip Folds of Honor 500.”

“When we were presented with the opportunity to partner with NFL Alumni to support the Folds of Honor Children’s Fund, we jumped at it,” added Dickerson. “Both current and former players have a proud tradition of supporting veterans and making a positive impact in their communities. At the same time, Corey has made it a priority to be involved with charitable causes that truly make a difference.  We think this program goes hand-in-hand with both Corey’s passion to help others and the NFL Alumni’s mission of ‘Caring for Kids.’”

Spire Motorsports worked in cooperation with WaV Sports Agency from conceptualization to execution in bringing the program from the drawing board to the famed 1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“WaV Sports is honored to have played a small part in aligning all of the parties involved to support such a worthy cause,” said WaV Sports Agency CEO Brain Klaasmeyer. “Thank you to T.J. Puchyr, Jeff Dickerson, Corey LaJoie and the entire Spire Motorsports team as well as Beasley Reece, Bart Oates and the NFL Alumni for making this happen. Most importantly thank you to the entire Folds of Honor team for carrying out this mission every day.”

The Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500 from Atlanta Motor Speedway will be televised live on FOX Sunday, March 21 beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST). The sixth of 36 races on the 2021 NCS schedule will be broadcast live on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

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About Spire Motorsports …

Spire Motorsports was established in 2018 and is co-owned by longtime NASCAR industry executives Jeff Dickerson and Thaddeus “T.J.” Puchyr. Spire Motorsports earned an upset victory for the ages in its first full season when Justin Haley took the checkered flag in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 7, 2019.

About NFL Alumni…

NFL Alumni was founded in 1967 and is the oldest and most recognizable national organization of retired professional athletes. NFL Alumni consists of former NFL players, coaches, executives, spouses, cheerleaders, and associate members. Part of NFL Alumni’s dual mission is “Caring for Kids”. Player alumni give back in their local communities by raising funds for youth-related charities through their 38 regional chapters. It is a tradition that has existed for more than 50 years. Alumni support typically raises more than $1.5 million, annually, for worthwhile causes. The other half of NFLA’s mission, “Caring for our Own” is to serve, assist and inform its members and their families. Alumni members are offered a diverse package of wellness, business, career, and legal services to help members and their families be healthy, productive, and connected to one another. To learn more please visit: https://www.nflalumni.org/

About Folds of Honor…

Folds of Honor is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization that provides educational scholarships to families of military men and women who have fallen or been disabled while on active duty in the United States armed forces. Our educational scholarships support private education tuition and tutoring for children in grades K-12, as well as higher education tuition assistance for spouses and dependents. Founded in 2007 by Lt Col Dan Rooney, a PGA member and F-16 fighter pilot currently stationed at Tyndall AFB Florida as a member of 301st Fighter Squadron who served three tours of duty in Iraq, Folds of Honor is proud to have awarded more than 29,000 scholarships in all 50 states, as well as Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, including more than 4,500 in 2020 alone. For more information or to donate in support of a Folds of Honor scholarship, visit foldsofhonor.org.

About WaV Sports Agency…

WaV Sports Agency is a global sports marketing firm that specializes in sports property representation, brand side representation, and the management and production of unique sporting and entertainment events.  WaV represents the NFL Alumni Association.  Additional information on the Company can be found at www.WaVsports.com