SBD/June 22, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Red Bull Racing Officials Eye Investors To Keep NASCAR Team On Track In '12

Red Bull Racing owns and sponsors a two-car operation this season
Red Bull Racing is “pursuing investors, drivers and sponsors in order to keep the doors open to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series operation after the 2011 season,” according to Bob Pockrass of SCENEDAILY.com. Red Bull on Monday announced it is “seeking investors to purchase and operate the two-car operation.” That “sounds like a difficult proposition” with just eight months before the '12 season is scheduled to begin, but team VP & GM Jay Frye said that “it’s doable.” Frye: “This process has just started, and there has been a lot of inquiries based on what happened [Monday], in addition to some other people we already were talking to.” Frye said that whether Red Bull “could have a limited role as a part-owner or sponsor is still to be determined.” He said that he “would like to be in serious negotiations with investors within 45 days,” and that the investors “could be connected to companies that are potential sponsors.” He also “didn’t rule out a one-year financing deal that would give the organization more time to find permanent sponsors and investors.” Frye said that “all options are being considered, such as being a satellite organization of a current four-team Cup organization.” Red Bull does not have a driver signed for next year, and Frye “believes he must find the investors before trying to lure drivers and then sponsors.” Frye said that “longtime friend” Mark Martin “is not currently among the potential investors” (SCENEDAILY.com, 6/21).

KEEPING THE DRIVE ALIVE: In Daytona Beach, Godwin Kelly reports if Frye “can't find someone to buy the team, he may try to piece enough sponsorship money together to keep the organization active through 2012.” Frye: "If you have the right investors, that could be the conduit to getting it done" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 6/22). ESPN.com's Terry Blount said, "We’re talking about some really big-money players here, from what I’ve heard from the Red Bull people, and I can tell you they really are encouraged about this. They believe this is going to get done. It’s not as gloomy as it appears on the surface” ("NASCAR Now," ESPN2, 6/21). Frye added, “We're very keen and encouraged about the future” (AP, 6/21).

CHALLENGES LIE AHEAD: CBSSPORTS.com’s Pete Pistone wrote Frye is a “respected figure in the NASCAR world and the organization’s lack of success has not been for lack of trying.” Should Frye be able to "pull off the hunt for new money and keep the team’s doors open, he’ll next have the challenge of finding sponsors for the two-car stable." Red Bull’s involvement “was the unique combination of a company that both owned and sponsored the team” (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/21). ESPN.com’s Blount wrote it is “never easy when a primary sponsor decides it’s no longer in the best interest of the company to have its logo on your car.” In the case of Red Bull Racing, it is “much worse” because it is the sponsor of the team. Red Bull’s exit is “a stab in the heart, and everyone in NASCAR feels it.” Blount: "Just when things were looking up, a quality organization is in jeopardy. ... If Red Bull can walk away, what else could happen?” (ESPN.com, 6/21).

BEHIND THE EIGHT BALL: In Virginia, Dustin Long notes NASCAR teams have been "searching for sponsorship since the beginning of the year." Long: "While things are a bit better than previous years, it's still a tight market and teams aren't getting what they used to for sponsorship. ... Can Frye find enough to be competitive next year or will he have to accept whatever low-paying sponsors come [his] way and piece together next year?" (HAMPTONROADS.com, 6/21). SPORTING NEWS' Matt Crossman writes, "Give Frye credit for putting a brave face on the situation. But he is a drowning man holding an anchor. Finding a sponsor is hard. Finding an owner is hard. Finding both, and in enough time to be ready for next season? Virtually impossible" (SPORTING NEWS TODAY, 6/22).
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