Whelen to title sponsor European stock car series
Longtime NASCAR sponsor Whelen, which makes safety lights for police cars, fire trucks and other safety vehicles, has signed a seven-year agreement to title sponsor the Euro-Racecar Touring Series.
It is the largest sponsorship that NASCAR has brought to Euro-Racecar since it struck a licensing deal last year to lend its name and logo to the stock car series.
The Connecticut-based company plans to use the series to boost its business in Europe. Phil Kurze, Whelen vice president, said its sales representatives will attend events and take government officials to races in Spain, Germany, France and England. It took a similar approach with its sponsorships of NASCAR’s Mexican and Canadian series and saw it boost sales in those markets, Kurze said.
Kurze said Whelen opted to sponsor Europe’s stock car series rather than a road racing series, which is more popular in Europe, because it wanted to highlight the fact that it’s an American company.
“Being an American manufacturer and associating with American-style racing is more appealing for us than being with F1 or another series,” Kurze said.
The deal highlights NASCAR’s increasing involvement with the Euro-Racecar Touring Series. When it cut its licensing agreement with the series last year, NASCAR did little promotion of the deal and press coverage was muted. But since then it has raised the possibility of holding an exhibition race in Europe to promote the Euro-Racecar series and American stock car racing overseas.
NASCAR also has begun using its relationship with the series as another asset to pitch to its existing sponsors. Sherwin-Williams and K&N Filters have both signed on to sponsor the series, and NASCAR plans to bring five more partners to a race in France this week.
“There are three or four main reasons [NASCAR is involved],” said George Silbermann, NASCAR’s vice president of regional and touring series. “No. 1 is to increase awareness of the NASCAR brand. No. 2 is to create new opportunities for existing and new partners.”