SBJ/October 22-28, 2012/Events and Attractions

Austin F1 race has 10 sponsors on starting grid

Circuit of the Americas, Texas’ newest speedway, has signed 10 inaugural partners ahead of its first Formula One race next month.

The facility has signed a mix of single- and multiyear deals with AT&T, Anheuser-Busch, Mobil 1, Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Topo Chico, Red Bull, Best Buy, Pirelli and Texas Lottery. The deals range in value from the low six figures to the low seven figures.

Circuit of the Americas chief marketer Geoff Moore said that the organization never set a numerical goal for the number of sponsors it wanted in its first year but is pleased with the quality of sponsors the facility signed.

“When you have a new venue like ours, you’re very interested in people that are interested in being not just a sponsor but a marketing partner,” Moore said. “How are they going to activate in the local, regional and national marketplace? The eagerness of people on this list [of sponsors] to do that is something we’ve been happy with.”

Inaugural partners receive a rights package that includes use of the Circuit of the Americas logo, hospitality, tickets, signage during MotoGP and V8 Supercars events, and integration into a fan festival in downtown Austin, Texas, during the F1 race weekend. In accordance with the track’s agreement with Formula One Management, the sponsors won’t get in-venue signage that’s camera visible during the Nov. 18 F1 race, the U.S. Grand Prix. That means that sponsors won’t be visible to F1’s global audience of more than 500 million viewers per race.

But the Circuit of the Americas sales team worked around that limitation by creating the fan festival, a local event where sponsors can activate and have visible signage. The event will feature more than 35 concerts in Austin during F1 race weekend. Mobil 1 signed on as the presenting sponsor of the festival, Bud Light signed on to sponsor the marquee live stage, and others will activate in the area.

“F1 is a very tightly controlled commercial property,” Moore said. “When you’re trying to introduce the sport to people who haven’t been a part of it, that is something that you have to explain.”

Moore said that Circuit of the Americas also serves as an agency for Allsport Management, F1’s trackside sales agent. He added that there are sponsorships with Allsport and F1 that will be announced at a later date.

Pirelli is the only inaugural sponsor of Circuit of the Americas that also sponsors F1. The tire manufacturer is the sport’s official supplier.

Pirelli is the only inaugural sponsor of Circuit of the Americas that also sponsors Formula One.
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Tom Gravalos, Pirelli’s vice president of marketing, motorsports, said that the company signed on as a sponsor because it believed it was important to support the first F1 race in the U.S. since 2007. The company bought a suite at the track and plans to take more than 400 customers to the race. It is running an online fantasy game called the Pirelli GP Challenge, which Circuit of the Americas is promoting, and the two partnered to provide rides in a three-seat F1 car that will visit six cities nationwide.

“We knew if the track was successful Formula One would grow in the U.S., and by definition that would be good for us and our brand,” Gravalos said. “It’s good for us as a company, and it’s good for our brand.”

In addition to selling sponsorships at the racetrack, Circuit of the Americas is looking for a naming-rights sponsor for an outdoor amphitheater on the property. The amphitheater holds 17,000 spectators and is the only venue of its kind in the city. It will host its first concert next spring.

Circuit of the Americas will host 25 to 50 prospective sponsors during next month’s F1 race. Moore said they would like to land sponsors in the automotive, banking and insurance categories.

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