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Sponsors are the lifeblood that makes NASCAR go, literally.
Corporate sponsors provide the financial support that keeps the individual NASCAR teams competitive. The money they provide allow the teams to buy parts, build racecars and pay the salaries of the drivers and team members.
In return for their investment, sponsors choose the overall team colors and the paint schemes used on the racecars; this is where the term ‘rolling billboard' comes from.
The sponsors product or brand will be visible to millions of fans in person and on television. The TV exposure can actually be measured; a firm called Joyce-Julius & Associates provide weekly reports to sponsors. These reports will tell the sponsor how much TV time they received the week prior and how much in actual dollars that TV team was worth.
For the sponsor the benefits that come from a NASCAR sponsorship go beyond just TV time. NASCAR fans have been shown to be the among the most loyal sports fans in the world. They will often go out of their way to support a brand that sponsors their favorite driver.
According to NASCAR, sponsors gained a record $5.2 billion in sponsorship exposure in 2006.
“NASCAR sponsorship is the best buy in marketing,” according to Larry DeGaris former Director for Sports Sponsorship at James Madison University. “The combination of awareness, favorability and effectiveness is unparalleled in the sports world or anywhere else.”
There are three main levels of sponsorship, Primary, Major Associate and Associate. A Primary sponsor normally funds the entire team operation and will have say over team colors, uniforms and racecar paint schemes. A Major associate sponsorship will normally have a spot on the rear deck lid or rear quarter panel of the racecar and a prominent logo on the team's uniforms. An associate sponsor will get the ‘A' or ‘B' post on the racecar (the area just behind the driver or passenger side windows), or the lower quarter panels depending on their agreements.
Because the economy and corporate revenues have changed in the past few years, teams are being forced to become more creative in seeking funding. Some teams are using more then one primary sponsor throughout the season. Still other teams have agreements to run a primary sponsor part of the season and another the rest of the year. Some even share primary sponsors, with one sponsor as a primary for certain races and another for other races
There are also contingency sponsors. These are sponsorships normally set up through NASCAR. The small decals framing the front wheels on racecars are all contingency sponsorships. The team is paid a certain amount to display the decals.