NASCAR Sprint Cup: Jeff Gordon's 'Drive To End Hunger' Leads New Sponsorship Era

Ryan Papaserge@@RyanPapasergeCorrespondent IOctober 29, 2010

Jeff Gordon will be sponsored by the AARP Foundation in 2011.
Jeff Gordon will be sponsored by the AARP Foundation in 2011.Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

In a perfect world, a multitude of Fortune 500 companies would be lining up to replace DuPont as the primary sponsor of Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports.

However, falling television ratings and attendance figures have made the arena of NASCAR sponsorship less than desirable in years past.

Enter the AARP Foundation and its "Drive To End Hunger" campaign—an effort to feed more than six million seniors unable to afford food due to rising medical costs.

The American Association of Retired Persons will sponsor the four-time Sprint Cup champion in 22 races for the next three seasons. DuPont and Pepsi will return, albeit in a limited form.

In a sport where sponsorship dollars have exceeded actual talent, it is refreshing to see such an original concept come together to support both a highly successful driver and a much-needed effort.

This is far from Hendrick Motorsports' first foray into supporting a charitable effort, however.

In 1997, the National Marrow Donor Program began its sponsorship of the team—an agreement that is still in place.

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According to a Hendrick press release, the "Drive to End Hunger" may involve another groups as time goes by—both similar foundations and food companies.

NASCAR already supports the Victory Junction Gang Camp and Drive4COPD, a campaign advising Americans to check for signs of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

As Old Spice, the U.S. Army and Kellogg's stick out among a multitude of other companies cutting back their NASCAR sponsorship efforts, it may be time for the VJGC or Drive4COPD to take on full-time sponsorship of a team with support from donors.

Surely, owners like Rick Hendrick and Jack Roush would be more than willing to feature such a charity on their cars, given that both owners could afford to run a sponsor-less car for an extended period of time.

While Hendrick Motorsports continues to dominate the competition on the track, they may begin to blow away the competition on the business side of things as well.

Thoughts? Comment below.

Ryan Papaserge is a junior Journalism/Mass Communication student at St. Bonaventure University and a writing intern at Bleacher Report.

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