Sponsorships: More Than Just a Name on a Car

Kyle BrandtContributor IJune 23, 2010

SONOMA, CA - JUNE 19:  Kevin Harvick drives the #29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway on June 19, 2010 in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images



As we all know, the current economic climate is anything but pretty at the moment. It's evident everywhere we go. Millions of people are out of work, businesses are shutting their doors, and families are finding themselves stretching every dollar as far as possible.

These hard times have even struck NASCAR, America's number one spectator sport. Less and less people are making the annual trip to their favorite race track and are staying at home and watching the race on television, causing at-track attendance to be at an all-time low. Some big name companies who's logos can be seen on the side of your favorite driver's car are having to scale back their involvement in the sport or even worse- leave.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, however. This is evident by Shell-Pennzoil's recent announcement that they will be leaving RCR  (Richard Childress Racing) at the end of the current season and will move over to Penske Racing and sponsor a number 22 car for Kurt Busch starting with the 2011 Sprint Cup Series campaign. You might asking yourself, "how is this good?", and here is the simple answer: at a time when big name companies are coming and going from the sport as quickly as the races themselves, having a company like Shell-Pennzoil continuing their involvement in the sport proves that corporations have not lost hope in their racing sponsorship programs.

Contrary to popular belief, sponsorships play as pivotal of a role to a racing team as the driver does. Sure, the car can't be piloted by itself, but sponsors are what keep the teams racing. The cost to operate a full-blown Sprint Cup Series team is staggering. So staggering, that even Donald Trump would shutter. A set of Goodyear Eagle racing tires can set a team back five-thousand dollars. Don't forget about the massive haulers that transport the cars to the track every week. The amount of fuel it takes to power them is not pretty, either. Take for instance the first two weeks of the

Sprint Cup Series season. Teams must transport two cars (sometimes more), a pit box, crash-cart, and all the other equipment that is needed, on a 507 mile journey from Mooresville, North Carolina to Daytona Beach, Florida. From there, they must travel back to North Carolina after the race and then immediately turn back around and embark on a 2,385 mile trip to Auto Club Speedway in Southern California. These long trips happen every week throughout the 36 week schedule that is the Sprint Cup Series. One can only imagine how those fuel bills look every month.

The costs previously mentioned are just the small expenses for a team. Don't forget about the engines that power the cars, or even better yet, all the technology housed at your favorite team's race shop, like a seven-post.

Simply put, without the wonderful folks at companies like Shell-Pennzoil, it could be quite possible that the sport of NASCAR as we know it would be non-existent or at the very least, extremely different than the sport ole' Bill France envisioned so many years ago.



So, my hat's off to all the corporations who sponsor race teams. Without you, the sport that many so dearly love wouldn't be possible.