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Volume 20 No. 46
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Gatorade to extend deal with ISC, maintain victory lane sponsorship at 12 NASCAR tracks

Gatorade dropped its title sponsorship of Daytona International Speedway’s annual Daytona 500 qualifying races earlier this year, but the PepsiCo brand plans to extend its sponsorship of NASCAR’s victory lane at 12 racetracks.

The Chicago-based brand has agreed in principle to a deal with International Speedway Corp. that will see it continue to be associated with one of NASCAR’s most visible locations, Gatorade Victory Lane. The company will have branding in victory lane at ISC’s 12 Sprint Cup tracks and have the location described as Gatorade Victory Lane on radio broadcasts from those facilities. It also will receive tickets and hospitality at the tracks.

Gatorade dropped its Daytona race sponsorship but kept victory lane.
Financial terms of the new, multiyear deal were not available. The last deal, which included the Gatorade Duels title sponsorship, was a 10-year agreement valued at more than $2 million a year.

Gatorade declined to comment, and ISC did not respond for comment.

Under terms of the new agreement, Gatorade will be the official isotonic beverage of ISC’stracks: Daytona, Martinsville, Richmond, Phoenix, Talladega, Darlington, Homestead-Miami, Kansas, Chicagoland, Michigan, Watkins Glen and Auto Club Speedway in California. It also will add the sports nutrition category to its deal so that it can promote its line of energy chews, gels and bars.

In exchange for expanding into sports nutrition, Gatorade gave up the rights to the energy drink category, allowing ISC to sell that for the first time in the last decade. The speedway company has approached 5-Hour Energy, Red Bull and others to gauge their interest in becoming the official energy drink of ISC, sources said.

Gatorade earlier this year opted to drop its sponsorship of the annual duels qualifying races. The title rights to that preliminary event, which determines qualifying order for the Daytona 500, was picked up by Budweiser.

The sports beverage brand didn’t offer any reasons for dropping the title sponsorship, but sources familiar with the brand’s decision said that its marketing team wrestled with whether it should stay in NASCAR. Most of its marketing focus is put against participant sports, and as the brand’s product line expanded to include a pre-competition, a during competition and a post-competition drink, its emphasis on participant-based sports has increased.

Ultimately, sources said Gatorade opted not to leave NASCAR because its distributors saw value in the program. They have activated at retail in race markets during the last decade and used the hospitality and tickets included in the package to reward retailers, sources said.

In addition to the victory lane deal, Gatorade has endorsement agreements with drivers Jimmie Johnson, who drives Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 48 car, and Matt Kenseth, who is leaving Roush Fenway Racing for Joe Gibbs Racing after this season.

Its parent company, PepsiCo, is in the midst of renewal negotiations with Hendrick Motorsports, and the future of Gatorade’s relationship with Johnson and other Hendrick drivers is expected to be determined by that deal.