SBD/Issue 175/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Wheels & Deals: TMS Markets Around Wheldon-Patrick Incident

TMS Using Wheldon-Patrick
Incident To Promote Race
ESPN.com’s Terry Blount reported Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) has dubbed the IRL Bombardier Learjet 550K this Saturday “Wheldon vs. Danica, Round 2,” in reference to the post-race skirmish between drivers Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick at last week’s ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 in Milwaukee. After that race, Patrick grabbed Wheldon's arm after complaining that he would not let her pass him on the track when he should have.  TMS in promotional materials "even sent out a tale of the tape, showing both drivers in their firesuits wearing boxing gloves and a giant belt with the TMS emblem” (ESPN.com, 6/5). Wheldon appeared on ESPN's "PTI" yesterday to discuss the incident, and said of Patrick, “I really think she’s feeling a lot of pressure being in one of those big race teams (Andretti Green Racing), certainly with all her teammates performing very well. ... She does need to act in a more professional manner and stop acting, quite frankly, like a spoiled brat” (“PTI,” ESPN, 6/5).

BIFFLE TO DEI? There have been reports that DEI is interested in signing driver Greg Biffle to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. next season, and ESPN.com’s Blount added Budweiser "may stay at DEI." Blount: “If that’s true, that gives (Biffle) an automatic sponsor to jump in the (No.) 8 car” (“NASCAR Now,” ESPN2, 6/5).

JUST DUCKY: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL’s Michael Smith cites sources as saying that Aflac is “on the verge of securing a multiyear team sponsorship deal with Roush Fenway Racing,” and the company is also talking to NASCAR “about acquiring official status” in the supplemental insurance category. Allstate currently holds rights to the auto, home and life insurance categories, but declined an offer for supplemental insurance. Aflac plans to be the primary sponsor of Biffle’s No. 16 Ford for four Nextel Cup races this year. Ameriquest is Biffle’s main primary sponsor, but the company is looking to “sell off races and get out of the final two years of its deal” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/4 issue).

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