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NASCAR, Wal-Mart and Hendrick…What a perfect combination

By admin | June 9, 2010


By Richard Allen

Published reports have stated that NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports are in talks to bring retail giant Wal-Mart to the sport as a sponsor and supplier of merchandise.

Could there possibly be three entities that could be better suited for each other?

Perhaps no sporting league has ever had a greater aptitude for linking itself to major sponsors as NASCAR. There are seemingly countless companies who can call themselves ‘The Official _____ of NASCAR’. Even when those exclusive partnerships with the sanctioning body are made at the expense of the very teams who need sponsorship to continue racing at the levels they have mandated with their overbearing rules, NASCAR goes right ahead and forces the new exclusive sponsor’s competitors out of the sport. And in some cases, that sponsor being forced out was involved in racing before the new sponsor ever became interested.

What company has become more well known for crushing the competition and strong arming its supplies than NASCAR? The obvious answer is Wal-Mart.

The retailer has grown to the stature of behemoth by employing some of the same type of aggressive tactics used by the ‘robber barons’ or ‘captains of industry’ during the late 1800s. With their ability to dominate over their suppliers and dictate prices they have left many of a local small time competitor crushed in their wake. And now, it looks as if they are poised to do that very thing in the world of NASCAR merchandise.

It will remain to be seen what impact this move could have on companies such as Target and other merchandise retailers who find themselves in competition with Wal-Mart.

And lastly in this tale of domination is the possible avenue by which Wal-Mart will enter the world of NASCAR participation. Hendrick Motorsports may find themselves as a chief vehicle for the retailer. Possibly as a sponsor for HMS driver Jeff Gordon, whose sponsor DuPont is looking to scale back, or in some way represented on each HMS car could be the way Wal-Mart puts its name in front of racing audiences.

By winning numerous championships and signing the sport’s most marketable drivers HMS has taken on the appearance of the NASCAR version of the New York Yankees. The recent addition of Kasey Kahne is just another example of Hendrick’s ability to dominate the stock car landscape.

If the reports are true, there could be no more logical partnerships in all of sports than the potential suitors of each other than these three. Each has developed its business model to the point that they are able to control their particular endeavor. That’s the way competition and capitalism are supposed to work, if it is practiced fairly.

Who can blame Wal-Mart for offering the convenience of one stop shopping? Who can blame Hendrick Motorsports for taking advantage of its opportunities?

However, as a sanctioning body it is NASCAR’s job to see to it that all of this is done fairly rather than simply looking for another way to increase their own bottom line. They need to look away from short term gains and look further into the future. That is the part that is most questionable about this possible association.

Follow @RacingWithRich on twitter.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.

Topics: Articles |

5 Responses to “NASCAR, Wal-Mart and Hendrick…What a perfect combination”

  1. yankeegranny Says:
    June 9th, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    What a combination; Nascar, a Monopoly owned by a family whose members brag that they own Miami when confronted by law enforcement officers, who refuses to allow union representation for the drivers and who have been hit with a sexual harassment suit.

    Walmart the world’s largest importer and retailer of items from Communist China who have been cited numerous times for employing illegal aliens, keeping unions out of their stores and sexual harassment of its female employees.

    What better team to “team” up with Walmart than one owned by a pardoned, convicted felon used car salesman. Poor Jeff, he deserves better than having Walmart being plastered on his hood

  2. mackyjay Says:
    June 9th, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    I couldn’t agree more, chip ganassi and Target will get screwed along will all other retail stores who try to sponsor a team.

  3. mkrcr Says:
    June 9th, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    “Practiced Fairly” and Brian France do not come close to going together. All I see is more of the same, get it while you can and screw the rest.

  4. Steve S. Says:
    June 10th, 2010 at 12:39 am

    This has shades of the Donner Party written all over it! A servival of the sleeziest who will eat their own young to prosper. May be time to switch to Indy car.

  5. Charles Says:
    June 10th, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    I dont like a close connection or business relationship between Hendrick a Nascar Team Owner and Nascar who is the sanitition body!!!!!! This seems a confict of interest!!

    Infact I thought the France Family at the Hall OF Fame induction ceremony should and could have used someone other than Rick Hendrick to do the induction of France Jr!!!! Its their call, but when I hear about all the fishing trips they went on and the apparently close relationship, It leaves a bad taste!!!!!!!

    With Hendrick a team owner, and his known intregrity issues in the past, France in my opinion should have distanced himself, knowing he as the president of Nascar
    need not get in a position where favoritable treatment is questionable!!!!and how the racing teams and fans could relay this to cronism to the fullest extent!