Toyota Signs On To Title Sponsor Spring NASCAR Races At Richmond Int'l Raceway
Toyota has signed on to title sponsor Richmond Int'l Raceway's spring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series races (April 26-27). The races will be known as the Toyota Owners 400 (Sprint Cup), which will celebrate the company's car owners, and the Toyota Care 250 (Nationwide), which will focus on its auto service departments. The company has done midway display activation at Richmond in the past and was the official pace car of the track in '12. RIR President Dennis Bickmeier said, "This takes it to another level. This central Atlantic region is an important one for Toyota. There is local buy-in from the dealers and region, as well." The company also co-sponsors the Sprint Cup Toyota/Save Mart 350 in Sonoma in June. Bickmeier said that Richmond and Toyota have talked about activation plans, but those will not be developed until next year. Ford, Chevrolet and other auto manufacturers can still buy display space at Richmond before races. RIR's spring Sprint Cup race was previously title-sponsored by Federated Auto Parts in '12, Wonderful Pistachios in '11, Air Guard in '10 and Chevrolet from '00-09 (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal). Bickmeier said that RIR's agreement with Toyota was a "multiyear deal for the spring races." Toyota Motorsports & Engagement Marketing National Manager Keith Dahl said that the deal to sponsor the races "had been percolating for some time." Bickmeier said, "The deals are getting harder to put together, they take longer to put together than any other time I’ve been in the business. It allows us to focus on other things." He added that "getting local companies involved with the action at RIR is still ongoing." Bickmeier said that it was "huge for the track to have gotten this settled just a few weeks after the season ended, after having difficulties finding sponsorship for the 2012 spring race." Bickmeier: "It’s a great relief to have all of our entitlement sponsorships locked up for 2013 and a few years beyond that" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 12/4).