SBJ/January 9 - 15, 2006/Marketingsponsorship

BofA close to multitrack deal with ISC

Bank of America Corp. will soon expand its NASCAR portfolio with a wide-ranging sponsorship at most or all of the 12 tracks owned or operated by International Speedway Corp., according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

Experts expect the deal to be announced
before NASCAR returns to Daytona.

The deal has not been confirmed by the bank or ISC. Bank of America spokesman Joe Goode would only say the bank planned a NASCAR-related announcement in the next couple of weeks.

Last year, Bank of America made its first foray into stock-car racing sponsorship by becoming the lead backer of a prerace show on NBC and TNT as well as signing on as the official bank of Concord, N.C.-based Speedway Motorsports Inc.

The SMI deal includes naming rights for the fall Nextel Cup Series date at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., beginning in 2006. Industry experts estimate the Bank of America-SMI alliance is worth $2.5 million a year.

Industry experts anticipate an announcement of the Bank of America-ISC agreement before next month’s Daytona 500, NASCAR’s first race of the season. An ISC official wouldn’t comment about a potential deal.

It is unclear how any deal with Bank of America would conflict with current deals ISC has in the financial services category.

Lenny Santiago, senior investor relations analyst at ISC, said the company has deals with Wachovia Corp. at Talladega Superspeedway, Martinsville Speedway and Darlington Raceway. In addition, ISC has deals with SunTrust Corp. at Daytona International Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Richmond International Raceway.

Chemung Canal Trust has a smaller deal with Watkins Glen International.

Exact terms of those deals are unknown but it is believed that all of them, except the Talladega deal, run through 2009. None of the deals is believed to be all-encompassing along the lines of what Bank of America has done at five of SMI’s six tracks.

Both the SMI and ISC deals come as Bank of America CMO Cathy Bessant, a self-professed NASCAR fan, serves as a key player in Charlotte’s bid to win a $137.5 million NASCAR Hall of Fame. Sanctioning body NASCAR, a sister company to ISC (both are led by members of NASCAR’s founding France family), will award the hall of fame to one of five cities later this year.

Adding ISC makes sense for Bank of America, as the track company has facilities in several of the bank’s key markets, including cities in California and Florida.

The move by Bank of America to add the ISC tracks to its sponsorship portfolio comes less than three months after another NASCAR newcomer, Texas Instruments, through its DLP HDTV brand, signed multiyear partnerships with both SMI and ISC. Even though Bank of America has yet to announce a team sponsorship similar to the DLP and Hall of Fame Racing team partnership, it will be interesting to see if other new sponsors to the sport take this multipronged sponsorship approach.

Erik Spanberg writes for the Charlotte Business Journal, an affiliated publication. SportsBusiness Journal staff writer Scott Warfield contributed to this story.

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