SBJ/September 19-25, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

SMI sells all race title inventory

For the first time since 2008, Speedway Motorsports Inc. has sold all of its Sprint Cup race title sponsorship inventory prior to its upcoming season.

The company, which owns and operates eight racetracks nationwide, recently closed a renewal with Bank of America for its fall Sprint Cup race and added a deal with AdvoCare, a Texas-based direct-sales company that offers nutrition, weight-loss and sports-performance products, in May for its Atlanta race. Those agreements combined with a new deal completed late last year with Kobalt for the Las Vegas race give SMI title sponsors for all 12 Sprint Cup races that its tracks will host in 2012.

“We’re getting back to where it was before the recession,” said Mike Burch, SMI vice president of business development. “Because we’ve got big weekends and key markets, there’s still corporate interest.”

SMI 2012 Sprint Cup
Race Title Partners


Atlanta:
AdvoCare 500

Bristol:
Food City 500
Irwin Tools Night Race

Charlotte:
Coca-Cola 600
Bank of America 500

Infineon:
Toyota/Save Mart 350

Kentucky:
Quaker State 400

Las Vegas:
Kobalt Tools 400

New Hampshire:
Lenox Industrial Tools 301
Sylvania 300

Texas:
Samsung Mobile 500
AAA Texas 500

Source: Speedway Motorsports Inc.
Sprint Cup race title sponsorships typically cost more than $1 million, and Burch said tracks have maintained their prices for such sponsorships since the recession.

Bank of America recently signed a four-year renewal with SMI for its title sponsorship of the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It will be one of three primary sponsors featured on the speedway’s new video board, which is the largest in the world, and will be the official bank of Charlotte Motor Speedway. The bank has held the title rights to Charlotte’s fall race since 2006 and uses the race as a vehicle to promote the company in the Charlotte area, where its headquarters is located.

“Charlotte’s home to Bank of America and is the heart of NASCAR country,” said Charles Greenstein, head of global sponsorship marketing at Bank of America. “As one of racing’s leading companies, SMI provides us with world-class facilities and a best-in-class team to host the Bank of America 500, while continuing our support for a key industry in the region.”

The bank also plans to renew its position as the official bank of NASCAR, but it is dropping its sponsorships at four SMI tracks — Texas Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Infineon Raceway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway— and five International Speedway Corp. tracks — Auto Club Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

By closing out the last of its open Sprint Cup title sponsorships, SMI executives can turn their attention to other open sponsorship inventory. The company needs to sell title rights for a Nationwide Series race at Bristol and another at New Hampshire; Camping World Truck Series races at Atlanta, New Hampshire and Bristol; an NHRA race in Charlotte; and Izod IndyCar Series races at Kentucky and Infineon in Sonoma, Calif.

Burch said the limited amount of inventory that the company’s tracks have to sell will free up SMI’s sales force to be creative with other sponsorship deals. Infineon recently sold a presenting sponsorship for its racing season to Big O Tires, and Burch said other tracks are looking at similar opportunities.
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