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Volume 20 No. 45

Marketing and Sponsorship

The NHRA has signed a multiyear deal with Toyota making the automobile manufacturer the official car of the NHRA.

Financial terms of the deal were not available. The agreement was expected to be announced this week.

Toyota replaces Ford as the official car of the drag racing circuit starting with the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals this weekend in Pomona, Calif. Ford, which followed General Motors in the sponsorship role through a deal signed in 2009, also announced last summer that it was ending its NHRA Mello Yello Series team sponsorships and support after the 2014 season.

Toyota has been involved with the NHRA to various degrees since 2002.

“They’ve become more involved with NHRA both with the team side and also at the league level, and over that time frame they’ve continued to build a relationship with us and get a return on that,” said Gary Darcy, NHRA senior vice president of sales and marketing. “This is the continuation of that evolution, and we’re excited about them becoming the official car.”

The expansion of Toyota’s involvement in the sport comes on the heels of four consecutive NHRA Top Fuel championships won by Toyota-sponsored drivers. In addition to rights as the official car of the NHRA, the new deal provides Toyota with on-site exposure via trackside signage and video board spots, as well as advertising inventory and sponsored features during television broadcasts. Toyota also will provide on-site fan experiences with interactive displays, support vehicles for the NHRA and a new car as part of an annual sweepstakes.

“We want to reach out and provide exposure for our products to a fan base that is very enthusiastic and easy to reach out and make contact with,” said Les Unger, national motorsports manager for Toyota Motor Sales USA. “That’s one of the overall pluses that the NHRA offers.”

In addition to having the overarching deal with the NHRA, Toyota is title sponsor of the NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas, the penultimate event of the 2014 season. That multiyear deal was signed last year. It also has extended its title sponsorship of the Toyota NHRA Summernationals in Englishtown, N.J., an event it has sponsored since 2012.