Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College
It's a bright sunny day in Talledega. The spectators are gathered to see their favorite drivers make it to "Victory Circle." The excitement in the air can be felt by all. They hold their breaths waiting for the famous words, "Gentlemen Start Your Engines." The cars fire up and the smell of Unical 76 mixes with the aroma of Nathan's Hot Dogs. The roar from the Fords, Chevrolets, and Pontiacs stand the crowd on their feet. It's the start of the Winston 500.
Motor sports offer a fresh alternative to advertising. In addition to using the traditional billboards, magazines, and commercials, they offer a unique way to advertise. They use ads in the name of the race, on trailers, programs, cars, and even on the driver. Let's start by taking a walk through the parking lot. You will see a huge display of colorful flags. The flags fly from trailers with logos, such as McDonald's, DuPont, and Tide. Inside the trailers people sell hats, shirts, toy cars that look like your favorite cars, and much more. Sometimes, the driver is there to give an autograph. The driver endorsing a product with a signature can make the company and himself up to 40 million dollars a year.
After making it past the trailers, you'll go through the ticket line while someone is yelling, "Programs! Get Your Programs Here!" You purchase the 10 dollar program in hopes of learning a little more about your driver. You find your seat and begin to look at your program. On the cover you will see the name of the race, some of the co-sponsors, and last year's winner, Rusty Wallace, who is sponsored by Miller Lite. The next page is a full-page advertisement for Winston cigarettes. After going through several more pages of ads, you finally get to the main reason you bought the program.
Your reading is interrupted by an announcer welcoming you to the race sponsored by Winston and Havoline Motor Oil, "The Official Oil of Nascar." It's time to meet the drivers. The drivers walk out, receiving rounds of applause and wearing suits matching the paint jobs on their cars. Rusty Wallace is wearing a navy blue and white jumper with Miller Lite printed down both arms and across his chest. He also has an assortment of patches on the front of his suit, such as Bosch Spark Plugs, Mobil 1, and Penske Motor Sports. These patches represent the associate sponsors for Rusty this year.
After the introductions, the drivers get into their cars and drive to the front of the grandstands. Rusty's car is blue and white with Miller Lite across the hood. The hood generally will display the name of the sponsor who contributes the most money to the driver and his team. A series of stickers, placed from the front bumper to the edge of the door, line the sides of the car and are known as direct money sponsorships. For example, if Gatorade puts their sticker on the car and it is leading the race at the halfway point, the driver will receive a 10,000 dollar bonus. If that driver continues on to win the race, he will receive an additional 50,000 dollar bonus. The other sponsor stickers have similar deals so both the driver and sponsor benefit from the exposure.
Now, motor sports is a billion dollar industry. The name of the race is just the beginning of the advertisements for sponsors. There are 33 races a year with names such as the Coca Cola 600, Goody's Headache Powder 500, AC Delco 400, and Save Mart-Kragen 300. The number behind the name represents the amount of miles in the race. The average race is 3 to 5 hours long and there are 50,000 to 125,000 spectators who show up for a race and an average of 1,000,000 more who watch it from home. That alone brings about 3 million dollars a year to both driver and sponsors. I guess you could say that advertising with Nascar gets you more mileage for your dollars.