SBJ/August 27 - September 2, 2007/This Weeks News

Caterpillar signs deal with NHRA team

Caterpillar will announce this week that it has agreed to a multiyear deal to sponsor “Hot” Rod Fuller’s car in the NHRA Powerade Top Fuel class.

Fuller’s car, owned by David Powers Motorsports, has run at the front of the Top Fuel division for much of the season without primary sponsorship and this week will enter the NHRA “Countdown” — its version of the playoffs — in first place. Caterpillar has sponsored the car on a part-time basis in six previous races out of 17 this year, but it now will become the primary sponsor as the NHRA heads to Indianapolis for this weekend’s Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.

Caterpillar had sponsored “Hot” Rod Fuller’s
Top Fuel car on a part-time basis this season.
The sponsorship is a joint effort between the construction equipment manufacturer and its dealers. Local dealers will be featured on the car’s paint scheme at each of the races. Ryan Haas of Forward Sports Marketing, Kansas City, handled the sponsor agreement for Powers Motorsports.

Terms of the deal are still being finalized and were not available, but an agreement is in place, both sides said. High-end team sponsorship deals are typically worth low seven figures per year.

This is Cat’s first sponsorship in NHRA, and it will not have an effect on its sponsorship of the No. 22 Toyota at Bill Davis Racing in NASCAR’s Nextel Cup Series, said Todd Goins, senior product support and marketing manager.

Goins said Cat will use the sponsorship to recruit service technicians for its dealerships. Future activation has not been determined, he said.

“We’re always looking for ways to bolster our technician recruiting program, whether through motorsports or other means,” Goins said. “The six races that we used as a pilot program earlier this year were very successful.”

Goins said the unique opportunity to join a first-place team in midseason along with the layout and fan interaction at NHRA events made the sport enticing. In between the drag races, which last less than five seconds, crews disassemble and reassemble engines in the pit area, often with hundreds of fans watching from nearby.

That’s the time Cat dealers will engage the crowd, asking if anyone has considered working as a service technician at a Cat dealer.

“For us, it’s a great time to get out and meet people face to face,” Goins said. “It’s a perfect space from which to recruit.”

Powers said Fuller’s car has featured mostly associate sponsors this season, including Valvoline and Matco Tools. Powers also builds homes in the Houston area, which has helped create partnerships with Louisiana Pacific building products and Vintage Design, a retailer of products for the home.

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