Toyota has signed on to become the first of four founding sponsors at the renovated Daytona Int'l Speedway. The 11-year deal gives Toyota naming rights for one of five entrances to the venue and extends its sponsorship of seven other ISC tracks. Sources valued the deal at $6-7M a year. The sponsorship begins next year, a year before DIS' $400M renovation is completed. When the renovation is done, Toyota will have video signage on the exterior of its entrance and Toyota branding and cars inside the 20,000-square-foot entry space. Toyota VP/Marketing Communications & Motorsports Ed Laukes said, “People don’t know the heart and soul of the Toyota brand. We’re a little bit of a mystery compared to the Detroit guys. This will give us a chance to showcase different elements of the brand and our ongoing commitment of NASCAR. You get dividends from that relative to the fanbase, which is very loyal to those brands.” Laukes added that DIS' plans to host college football games, soccer and other events were a major draw for Toyota. He said, “We have a property at LA Live and it gives you a chance to showcase your brand in a way that fans get to interact with it in different ways. We thought the injector did the same thing.”
TOYOTA HOPES FOR VOICE IN DESIGN: Daytona and ISC staff first pitched Toyota in November '12, and following subsequent meetings, they worked on design and displays that could be inside the entrance space. DIS President Joie Chitwood III said, “From day one, Toyota latched on to the vision. This caught their attention. They wanted to talk about it and see the creative. For them, it’s about engagement of their customer.” Laukes said that part of the reason Toyota cut the deal so early was to give it a voice in the design of the entryway. It discovered the advantages of that after signing a naming-rights deal in Houston for Toyota Center. It was able to work with the architect to leave space for a Toyota Tundra inside the venue and brand the area around the truck the “Tundra Zone.” Laukes: “That’s why it was important to get in early.” In addition to branding one of the renovated speedway’s entrances, Toyota will have naming rights in one of 11 concession and gathering areas that Daytona is calling “neighborhoods.” It will have signage throughout that space, which is the size of a football field. Laukes said Toyota wants to deliver fan enhancements in the space. He pointed to providing phone-charging lockers as an example. Laukes said, “It’s not only going to be signage and names of restaurants and areas but it’s going to be about bringing elements of Toyota into the fan experience. That’s what we’re working through now.” He said the company hopes to have its designs completed by the summer. ACTIVE TALKS FOR MORE PARTNERS: Chitwood said DIS and ISC are in active discussions with other potential founding partners and hopes to announce more later this year. Chitwood added, “A couple are more significant than others in terms of the cycle. With a couple of potential partners, we’re talking creative schematic and design and with others we’re talking about the scope of it. I feel good that we’ll have more announcements in the future.” Daytona officials were asking $2-3M a year for the sponsorships and wanted 10-year commitments. Toyota paid more because its deal included other ISC tracks and title sponsorship of the fall NASCAR races at Richmond Int'l Raceway. Toyota announced its deal Thursday at the Chicago Auto Show, the same place the company announced plans to enter NASCAR in '03.
Texas Motor Speedway took a "creative and controversial path" in '13 when it signed the NRA as the title sponsor of its spring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, and this year, a "controversy of a different type is coming," as TMS on Thursday announced a three-year deal with hunting call company Duck Commander, according to Jeff Mosier of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Duck Commander is owned by the Robertson family of A&E's "Duck Dynasty," the TV show that "became part of a national debate late last year when family patriarch Phil Robertson made anti-gay comments" in an interview with GQ. But TMS President Eddie Gossage said that the "dust-up over the GQ interview didn’t factor into this deal, which was two years in the making." He added that he "doesn’t see the deal as courting controversy." The Duck Commander brand will "get exposure to 150,000 fans at the April 6 race," and the new "Uncle Si’s Tea and Duck Commander barbecue sauce, salsa and beef jerky will be on sale at the track." Meanwhile, TMS will "get exposure on the Robertson family’s popular social media accounts." Additionally, Duck Commander 500 merchandise "will be on sale at Wal-Mart and other outlets that sell Duck Dynasty merchandise." Gossage said that he is "not sure whether the show would include footage of the family at the race." A deal would "need to be negotiated" with A&E. Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment President & CEO Jeff Knapple said that he "doesn’t believe TMS will have much blowback from this deal." He added that a "large percentage of TMS ticket buyers are probably fans of Duck Dynasty, fans of the products or avid hunters" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/7). In Ft. Worth, Carlos Mendez notes Robertson family members will "serve in roles such as grand marshal and honorary starter" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 2/7).
STIRRING THE POT? In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel wrote of Gossage, "Say this for Eddie, the man is never one to shy away from any controversy." The "problem for Eddie, and much of NASCAR, is any alleged controversy is not generating anything more than a small headline for one day." When TMS made its agreement with the NRA, there was a "tiny bump in publicity that any race would sign an agreement with an organization that was under intense criticism after the school shootings" in Newtown, Conn. But the attention "did not last for too long." Engel: "All these moves do is further insulate NASCAR fan among their own. A sport that was born in the southeast and originated in moonshine runners continues to retreat further away from the mainstream and hang out amongst itself" (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 2/6).
Food City parent company K-VA-T Foods and Bristol Motor Speedway on Thursday announced that the title sponsorship deal for the track's spring NASCAR Sprint Cup race has been extended for five years, a length that in "today's economic climate is rare" in NASCAR, according to David McGee of the BRISTOL HERALD COURIER. BMS and K-VA-T have "a business relationship extending back" to '92, when Food City "first replaced Valleydale meat products as the title sponsor." It is the "second-longest continuous title sponsorship in NASCAR racing, trailing just Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the Memorial Day race" in Charlotte. BMS GM Jerry Caldwell said that he is "aware of only two or three other tracks that have similar long-term agreements." While terms of the deal were not announced, accompanying the new agreement are two new programs to "reward race ticket-holders with discounts on gasoline and free race tickets." K-VA-T President & CEO Steve Smith said that all BMS season ticket-holders "will automatically receive bonus points on their Food City value cards good for two fuel discounts of 15-cents per gallon at all 105 Food City locations." Meanwhile, Caldwell said that advance ticket sales for the Food City 500 on March 16 "are going well" (BRISTOL HERALD COURIER, 2/7).