SBD/May 11, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NASCAR Maintains Hope That Pastrana Can Revive Sport Among The 18-34 Demo

NASCAR execs expect Pastrana to bring increased ratings, sponsorship
Motocross star Travis Pastrana will make his second NASCAR Nationwide Series start Friday at Darlington Raceway, and while he brings the sport an "instant jolt of celebrity," NASCAR execs are "hoping he will bring his charisma, his sponsors and, most important, his legions of impressionable supporters,” according to Adam Himmelsbach of the N.Y. TIMES. NASCAR CMO Steve Phelps said, “His younger fan base is certainly something we’re interested in; it’s a demographic we’re seeking. ... Relative to our other drivers, he’s already creating a big buzz because of the fact that he’s unique, because he’s different, because he’s a trendsetter.” Himmelsbach notes Pastrana is the “latest outsider to carry the weight of hopes and expectations, and his connection to the sough-after 18-to-34-year-old demographic is undeniable.” NASCAR driver Danica Patrick said, “Someone like Travis who has a huge following, it’s great for NASCAR if those fans are exposed to the sport and begin following it to see how he’s doing.” Pastrana is “scheduled for seven Nationwide events, and his performance will be watched closely.” He said, “We’re going to go until either I’m good enough to win a championship or I’m bad enough that I don’t get a sponsorship.” Himmelsbach notes after years of "booming growth, NASCAR was waylaid by the recession.” If Pastrana succeeds, “it could re-engergize the sport and accelerate the expected arrival of motocross stars like Brian Deegan and James Stewart” (N.Y. TIMES, 5/11).
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