NASCAR EQUALS BIG MONEY RESULTS FOR SPONSORS
The economic success of NASCAR is getting attention from the
sports and business press. The auto racing circuit is featured
on the cover of the current issue of FORBES and was highlighted
last night on "SportsCenter." In FORBES, Suzanne Oliver reports
that NASCAR, called "America's fastest growing professional
sport," takes in an estimated $2B a year for track owners and
race teams. Oliver writes that NASCAR is "a very fat business to
be owned, in effect by a single family" -- the France family,
which founded the circuit in '47 and still owns and manages the
association. In addition, the family owns a majority of four
racetracks that had total revenues of $70M last year. Oliver
reports that NASCAR takes 10% of each of their tracks' TV
revenue, 2%-5% of licensed merchandise -- $200M last year.
According to Ardy Arani, Dir of Championship Group/Atlanta, a
sports marketing group, "NASCAR sponsorships are a good deal for
their sponsors because the fans feel a closeness to the drivers
they don't feel toward big-money basketball or baseball stars."
Arani: "When you see Joe Montana holding a candy bar, you know
he has been paid to do a commercial. When you see Bill Elliott,
you know McDonald's has paid for him to race. So you better go
to McDonald's or Elliott might not race." In addition to the
league's popularity among sponsors, since 1990, attendance at
NASCAR's Winston Cup series has grown 47%. That compares with a
10% percent increase for the NBA in that period, a .5% increase
for the NFL and a 9% decrease for MLB (FORBES, 7/3 issue).
SECRET OF SUCCESS? NASCAR President Bill France "is
determined not to kill his golden-egg-laying goose by
overworking it," writes Oliver. Bill France will add only
one Winston Cup race in '96 or '97, at Roger Penske's new
85,000-seat speedway outside of L.A. (FORBES, 7/3 issue).
COMPARED WITH THE BASKETBALL GOD: Among racing's
personalities, Oliver writes that Dale "Earnhardt is the
Michael Jordan of car racing." Much like Jordan, his
popularity translates into dollar signs. FORBES estimates
that Earnhardt sold close to $50M in licensed souvenirs last
year and reaped at least $5M of that total. Oliver reports
that Earnhardt recently purchased the major distributor of
his souvenirs -- Sports Image, Inc. (FORBES, 7/3 issue).
NASCAR, NASCAR, EVERYWHERE: ESPN's Linda Cohn reported
on the popularity of NASCAR and the value sponsors are
reaping from their association. Cohn: "Once scoffed at by
big companies as a Southern obsession, racing is getting big
notice by sponsors these days as fan interest spreads across
the country." Cohn noted that half of NASCAR's fans are
women, half are between the ages of 25-34 and three-quarters
are fully employed. Cohn: "Those demographics translate
into very attractive features to perspective sponsors."
Finally, Cohn reported that 71% will buy sponsors' products,
much higher than the 38% that NBA sponsors can expect
("SportsCenter," 6/19). In Detroit, David Markiewicz
examined how "sponsors lap up the chance to be a part of
racing mania" with a focus on the NASCAR team co-sponsored
by Tigers/Red Wings/Little Caesars Owner Mike Ilitch. Tim
Burke, Dir of Sports Marketing for Little Caesars: "Those
cars our like 200 mile-per-hour billboards for us. Mr.
Ilitch was impressed with what NASCAR sponsorship offers,
especially to a retail business" (DETROIT NEWS, 6/18).