Wheeler To Front New Company Focused On Sponsorship Sales For Smaller Tracks
Former Charlotte Motor Speedway President Humpy Wheeler yesterday announced the formation of a new company that will represent grassroots racetracks nationwide in national sponsorship sales. The company, Speedway Benefits, has gotten commitments from 400 of the 1,200 grassroots racetracks around the country, and it claims that they attract 20 million fans annually. Wheeler said, “Big companies have been very uninterested in going out and get the work you have to do to get a few short tracks or get a bunch of them. It would take a tremendous amount of time. We’re going to try to back this up with sound numbers so that the sponsor knows how many people they’ve reached at the Belleville Speedway (Ill.) or the Devil’s Bowl in Texas.” Wheeler said Speedway Benefits has not set pricing for national sponsorships. It will split sales revenue among tracks by dividing them into five tiers based on average annual attendance and assigning each tier a percentage of revenue. In addition to sales, the company wants to become a collective buyer of products that all the tracks use like cups and toilet paper. Wheeler said, “We can buy the famous commodity toilet paper and save them 100-120% on that. Whether you’re a track in Minnesota or Florida, what you buy is pretty much the same.” He also said the company will act like the NBA’s team services group, gathering and sharing successful marketing and sales approaches among the tracks. Wheeler said most grassroots tracks were “insular and independent” before the recession, but there is an interest now in sharing best practices and improving sales. He added, “We hope to change that. We’ve seen a shift away from that and a wanting of an alliance that we didn’t see 20 years ago.”
NEW TO MOTORSPORTS, BUT NOT ALL SPORTS: The concept of rolling up small-market sports facilities and franchises may be unique to motorsports but it is not unique in sports. The California-based Professional Sports Network rolled up 80 minor league baseball teams and sold national sponsorships that included signage at all of those facilities. Wheeler said Speedway Benefits has acquired office space in Charlotte’s South End area. He will serve as Chair of the company, while his son, former GMR and Velocity Sports exec Trip Wheeler, will be President. Former CMS attorney Lauri Eberhart will be Exec VP and General Counsel, while Carolina Speedway promoter Clint Elkins will be Dir of Track Relations and former SMI merchandising exec Todd Adams will be Dir of Tracks.