SBJ/January 23-29, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Radio-control car maker buys into NHRA environment

After dipping its toe in the NHRA waters with a display at a race last year, radio-control car manufacturer Traxxas is diving into the sport.

The company, which was founded in 1986 and makes radio-control cars with replaceable parts, signed a five-year agreement with the NHRA that gives it an array of assets, including rights to activate at 23 races, commercial inventory on ESPN and integration into the event program at races nationwide. The deal is valued in the high six to low seven figures annually.

Traxxas coupled the NHRA deal with a team sponsorship. It will be the primary sponsor of Courtney Force. The 23-year-old daughter of legendary drag racer John Force will make her debut as a Funny Car driver this year.

The NHRA and Force sponsorships are the latest in a series of motorsports deals negotiated by Traxxas. The company signed its first major sponsorship in 2009 when it became the title sponsor of The Off-Road Championship series. It also has deals with AMA Supercross and Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Traxxas President Mike Jenkins credits the deals with helping the company grow by 20 percent annually over the last three years. It claims 50 percent of the radio-control car market, and its products are sold in 50 countries.

“Sponsorship’s done us well,” Jenkins said. “The environment at NHRA races is ideal. It’s ideal in that the fan is engaged in the sport and then there’s a big break from racing. They’re going to the pits, and you have an opportunity to capture them and spend more time with them.”

Jenkins said the company will set up displays during races where fans can drive Traxxas cars and buy parts and cars. The NHRA also plans to bring Traxxas cars onto the drag strip between races to entertain fans.

“This is a great shot in the arm for us, and I think it’s going to be important to our fans, as well,” NHRA President Tom Compton said. “They’re going to bring energy and excitement to the sport.”

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