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Volume 21 No. 1
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Toyota: NHRA footprint anything but a drag

A decade after jumping into NHRA racing, Toyota is expanding its footprint in the sport, closing a race title sponsorship deal and expanding its advertising support.

The company signed a multiyear deal to title sponsor the NHRA’s race in Englishtown, N.J., which will be called the Toyota NHRA SuperNationals. It also will have advertising inventory during all 28 NHRA races on ESPN2 in 2012. It advertised during eight races last year.

The Funny Cars Toyota sponsors are patterned after the Camry. The company will sponsor four Funny Cars across two teams and five Top Fuel cars across three teams.
“Toyota gets into things for the long run and it usually eases into them,” said Don Brown, Toyota’s national motorsports manager.

“The previous agreement worked well for us. We had a good return. We’re finding the fan is different in NASCAR and there’s a lot more opportunity to get a good report going with the fan in drag racing.”

Toyota had 72,000 people visit its displays over six NHRA races in 2011. Brown said the company will bring its Toyota Owners Hospitality program to nine races this year. It brought the program to one race last year.

“This is a different type of atmosphere from a NASCAR race,” Brown said. “You don’t have to set up and take it down when the race begins. There’s more time to interact with fans.”

In addition to the on-air advertising and race title sponsorship, Toyota will have associate sponsorships with five Top Fuel cars across three teams: Al-Anabi Racing, Don Schumacher Racing and Morgan Lucas Racing. It will sponsor four Funny Cars across two teams: Kalitta Motorsports and Pedregon Racing. Those Funny Cars will be patterned after the Toyota Camry.

Brown said Toyota would like to further expand its relationship with the NHRA next year. He said the company’s ability to do so will be dictated by its business performance and economic conditions.