February 18, 2006
The Daytona 500 and 2006 NASCAR season starts tomorrow. And thus come the NASCAR ads. And there are loads of new ads for the 2006 season, including Dale Jarret finally racing the truck (supposedly UPS tricked out an actual truck that can do 150 mph) and Mark Martin getting a stunt double to do some Carl Edwards-style backflips.
Now I'm not a huge sports watching guy, but it seems like NASCAR is one of the few sports, or TV shows period, where practically every commercial is completely related to what they're advertising. NASCAR drivers show up in every other ad, generic cars driving around if the advertiser isn't actually a real sponsor, and we can count to see who shows up in more ads, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., or the Waltrip brothers.
OK, this is hilarious. Beer rivalry gone too far. I guess that's what happens when you have all that free access to beer.
Miller has challenged Budweiser, making a gentlemanly wager. The drivers: Kurt Busch (alcohol-sponsored boy who made headlines last year with, hey, alcohol!) vs. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. The terms:
The losing sponsor [based on 2006 standings] must change the paint scheme on its car to match the winning brand's car for one Nextel Cup Series points-paying race next year.
Budweiser hasn't taken up the challenge yet, though I can't imagine they'd have the guts to do it. Especially after the year Earnhardt had last year.
September 27, 2005
NASCAR.com talks with Geoff Smith, the president of Roush Racing, about the past and future of Roush Racing, including the chances Kurt Busch will drive for Penske in 2006 (unlikely). He also explains what happened with Mark Martin and why 2005 probably won't be his last year:
The thing that changed the dynamic was from the exit of Jeff Burton to pulling Carl Edwards out of our planned cycle, and then suddenly we didn't have the continuation of the 6 team that would coincide with Mark's retirement from the Cup Series.
That created a significant business issue for us, and Mark also didn't want to leave with a really good team not having a driver.
It wasn't Jack, (because) Jack had stopped approaching Mark on driving. But I approached him on it. I said to Mark, "This was not how any of us wanted to end this in Cup racing" -- and he agreed.
September 6, 2005
Even though Nextel signed a 10-year deal when it took over the primary sponsorship of NASCAR's elite cup series from R.J. Reynolds' Winston brand in 2003, we could see another series name change by 2007. Sprint and Nextel have merged and plan to use the Sprint name in the future. For 2006 it will continue to be the NASCAR Nextel Cup, but it could be the NASCAR Sprint Cup starting in 2007. An official announcment could be made before the 2006 Daytona 500.
The long reign of Winston as the primary sponsor resulted in NASCAR's top series being known simply as "Winston Cup". In 2003 you could almost feel the tension as media and fans alike got used to the idea of the top series being called the "Nextel Cup," and quickly adapted to calling it the "Cup series" since the sponsor could easily change. It's a good move for the media, though probably makes the sponsorship less enticing.
My question is when will the Busch series see a similar move? Already NASCAR refers to the Truck and Cup series, avoiding the confusion of sponsor changes. But what will we call the Busch series when Busch beer moves on? I think the "Grand National series" was its original name, though that hardly seems to mean much anymore.
Rising fuel costs, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, are starting to pinch the wallets of NASCAR teams. The cost of diesel fuel has doubled in the past year and if regular gasoline is topping $3.00 per gallon, you can imagine the cost of racing fuel, which often costs twice as much.
"I may be paying more money, but I'm not 10 feet under water, either," said local Florida racer Ted Vulpius.
While the fuel crunch is definitely being felt, it's nothing like the energy crisis in the 1970s when Congress identified NASCAR racing as a waste of fuel. In response NASCAR shortened the Daytona 500 to 450 miles as a good will gesture, despite their complaints that other sports use more fuel transporting multiple teams across the country.
While fuel "wasted" on the track probably pales in comparison to the fuel spent getting competitors and fans to the track, I've always thought it would be cool if NASCAR ran an environmentally friendly series, souped up solar-powered cars or hybrids or something. Green cars that could still go fast. It'd be primarily public relations, but imagine the interest that could be brought to fuel-efficient vehicles.
August 31, 2005
The cover of Fortune magazine features NASCAR, including a decked out Fortune Ford Taurus. The cover story is all about the business of NASCAR—of course you can only read an excerpt online. There's not much new info, but it's full of details about NASCAR being the fastest growing sport and making inroads into previously non-NASCAR areas.
A couple of the sidebars are available online, including NASCAR for Neophytes, which counters basic arguments like 'all fans are rednecks,' 'women don't watch,' and my favorite, 'racing isn't a sport.'
August 22, 2005
When Tony Stewart won the Pepsi 400 at Daytona on July 2 he celebrated his win with an impromptu fence climb, going right up to the flag stand to celebrate with fans. When he won at New Hampshire he did it again.
And his primary sponsor, Home Depot, jumped at the chance. Using footage of Stewart climbing the fence and the tagline, "Hey Tony, we've got ladders," they promoted a sale on ladders and fencing.
What a brilliant idea. Let's just hope we don't see too many exuberant moments transformed into staged advertisements.