NRA, NASCAR Coming To Texas
A big part of NASCAR is sponsorship. Cars, drivers, teams and even the tracks, have numerous sponsors. These sponsors give, sometimes in the millions, to help the teams pay for parts, cars, engines, tires, fuel, and so on. Even the tracks have sponsors to finance the purse. For those who don’t know what that is, it is the money awarded to each driver depending on their performance in the race. On the sponsor’s side, they get advertising of their product or service on the cars, the track, even the drivers will have sponsors on their fire suits.
One big name, the National Rifle Association (NRA), will be sponsoring the NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway on April 13, 2013. It was announced on Monday March 4, by track President Eddie Gossage. It will be called the NRA 500. Last years’ sponsor for this race was Samsung, and until the announcement was made, the race was going to be called the Texas 500.
“The NRA has been involved in the sport for several years and a partner of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. (owner of the Speedway) for many years in various aspects, and this race entitlement is just another extension of that business relationship.”
“They saw it was obviously a very attractive sports marketing opportunity and seized it. That’s what it’s all about,” Gossage added. “It’s about putting on one of the great sporting events in America. I know in Atlanta last year they saluted a lot of the people that make America free. They are going to salute American freedoms and American families with this race. That’s their plan so it seemed to be a good fit.”
“We’ve had other offers but a lot of people wait and expect you to drop your price. That’s not something we do. We’re not going to be a discount speedway,” Gossage stated. “They were willing to meet the price. They afford us some great marketing opportunities as well with their membership to reach out to them and try to bring their members to attend the race here.”
“Obviously we know the NRA well and I can tell you from just looking at the demographics, I can tell you from the social media that I’ve been sitting here monitoring since that announcement was made, it’s probably 99 percent supportive. Some wildly supportive. The public, it doesn’t seem to be they’re going to have any issue with it, and I’m not sure why anybody would think they would. Like I said, know your demographic and we pride ourselves on being good at what we do. So we know what we’re doing and who we’re partnering with.”
Wayne LaPierre, NRA’s CEO, said at a news conference announcing the sponsorship, “NRA members and NASCAR fans love their country and everything that is good and right about America. We salute our flag, volunteer in our churches and communities, cherish our families, and we love racing.”
This was the first time that NRA has sponsored a Sprint Cup race, although, last year the NRA did sponsor a nationwide series race, the NRA American Warrior 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway last September.
The winner of that race was Sprint Cup rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. He has no problem with NRA sponsoring NASCAR races. “The NRA is our core fan base, and we all have guns, and all us racers love to go out and shoot. It’s part of who we are. Anytime you have a sponsor that embraces their market and who their core customers are, it’s great for us. I was able to win the NRA race in Atlanta and those guys were great to work it. They take their stuff serious, they’re concerned with the tragedies that we’ve had throughout the nation. I think they do a great job at working from their side to help things as well. I think it’s a great partnership here at Texas.”
Spokesman for the Texas Motor Speedway, Mike Zizzo stated in an e-mail, “the title sponsorship costs for a Sprint Cup series race vary greatly from track to track, with variables ranging from market size to attendance, TV ratings and inventory included in the sponsorship package.”
NASCAR said in a statement Monday that, “race entitlement partnerships are agreements directly between the track and the sponsor though NASCAR reserves the right to approve or disapprove those sponsorships. The race sponsor for Texas Motor Speedway’s April event falls within the guidelines for approval for that event.”
The winners of the races at Texas Motor Speedway are often awarded two revolvers and a cowboy hat in victory lane, and the pole sitters are given a shotgun. It’s only fitting for the NRA to sponsor a race at this track.
Richard Childress, who owns several teams in NASCAR, is on the board of directors at NRA and in the past has had NRA sponsorship space on his cars.