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 â€˜The Official _____ of NASCARâ€™. 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 sponsorâ€™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 â€˜robber baronsâ€™ or â€˜captains of industryâ€™ 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 sportâ€™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 Hendrickâ€™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. Thatâ€™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 NASCARâ€™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 |