Title Sponsorships: NASCAR Biting The Hand That Feeds

Josh CorderContributor INovember 16, 2009

AVONDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 15:  A detailed view of victory lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2009 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jason Smith/Getty Images

With this week's news that Robby Gordon only has enough sponsorship in place to run approximately eight races in 2010, I thought I would take a peak as NASCAR's Official Sponsor Guide that lists all of the companies that pay the big bucks to be "The Official Artifical-Sweetened-Bread-And-Buttered-Toast of NASCAR."  Let's take a look at a few of these and see if you can tell me what they all have in common:

Bank of America -- Official Bank of NASCAR
Canadian Tire -- Official Automotive Retailer of NASCAR in Canada
Canteen Vending Services
Cintas -- The Preferred Uniform Supplier of NASCAR
Coca-Cola -- Official Non-Alcoholic Beverage, Official Soft Drink, Official Sport Drink of NASCAR
Coors Light -- Official Beer
Craftsman Tools -- Official Tools Tools, Hand Power and Tool Storage
Daytona USA -- Official Attraction Motorsports-themed
Diageo -- Proud Sponsor of NASCAR
DIRECTV -- Official Partner of NASCAR
Duracell -- Official Alkaline Battery
Exide -- Official Battery
ExxonMobil Lubricants -- Official Lubricants/Motor Oil of NASCAR
Featherlite Coach -- Official Luxury Coach of NASCAR
Featherlite Trailers -- Official Trailer of NASCAR
Ford Trucks -- Official Truck of NASCAR
Freightliner Trucks -- Official Big Rig, Official Hauler
Gillette -- Official Shaving Product
MTD Products (Cub Cadet) -- Official Lawn & Garden Equipment of NASCAR
Nabisco (Kraft) -- Official Cookies and Crackers of NASCAR
NicoDerm -- Proud Sponsor of NASCAR
O'Reilly -- Official Auto Parts Store
Raybestos -- Official Brakes
Safety-Kleen -- Official Supplier of NASCAR
SIRIUS XM Radio -- Official Satellite Radio Partner of NASCAR
Sunoco -- Official Fuel and Official Convenience Store of NASCAR
Tissot -- Official Timekeeper and Official Watch of NASCAR
Tylenol -- Official Pain Reliever of NASCAR
Unilever -- Official Partner of NASCAR
Visa -- Official Card of NASCAR...and so on, and so on.

What do most of these have in common?  They are the Official Cookies and Crackers of NASCAR but, for the most part, they do not sponsor cars in the Sprint Cup Series.  Those that do, do so on a limited basis with one or two primary sponsorships a year or they are also the title sponsor of a race on the circuit the NASCAR Banking 500 Present by Bank of America (again with the long names).

That's one big list and it's only approximately halfway complete.  What does it have to do with Robby Gordon?  Well dollars, of course.  See NASCAR just doesn't hand out the Official Pain Reliever of NASCAR title because Brian France has a headache.  They do it because Tylenol pays for it.

In today's economy, sponsorship dollars are harder than ever to come by.  Unless your name is Rick Hendrick or Dale, Jr. the money just doesn't add up.  Robby Gordon, Jamie McMurray, and numerous other teams are looking for companies to fill their sponsorship gaps for the 2010 season and the fact is that each the companies above could benefit from having their own shining spokesman. 

Instead of steering these companies toward underfunded teams, NASCAR takes their sponsorship dollars and stamps them as The Official Toilet Paper of NASCAR.  NASCAR could help their sport by acting as a mediator between these companies and, for example, broker O'Reilly Auto Parts a package deal that includes limited sponsorship of Robby Gordon for a handful of races AND the title of "Official Auto Parts Store of NASCAR".  Robby keeps racing, NASCAR gets a cut of the pie and O'Reilly gets some guarantee on the exposure they are going to receive each and every week.  Plus, they get a face to put with their marketing campaign.

We know Bass Pro Shops doesn't want to sign with Jamie McMurray.  I can almost guarantee you that McMurray shaves, watches television, uses batteries, and on a bad day he probably even eats a cookie or two.  Four small sponsorship packages like these would go a long way towards covering the price of a sponsorship deal in NASCAR's lead series, but until NASCAR starts working with it's teams to help keep them in business and quits treating them like independent contractors, the rich will get richer and the Robby Gordon's of the world will be run out of the sport.