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Busch brothers helped sponsors realize how much power they have

By admin | February 7, 2012

By Richard Allen


Back in the early and mid 2000s when Tony Stewart was pushing photographers around and NASCAR teams were receiving obscene amounts of cash and producing very little in return, sponsors apparently didn’t realize they had the power to demand more for their money. It seemed as though all $10-20 million bought a Fortune 500 company was the right to place their name on the side of a race car and a good seat in the corporate suites of most race tracks.

After all, sponsors seemed to be lining up for their chance to get involved with any Sprint Cup team when grandstands were full and television ratings were at their peak.

However, a dramatic power shift has occurred in the sponsor/team relationship of late as the lagging economy has discouraged companies from blindly throwing money toward NASCAR teams now that grandstands often reveal large pockets of empty seats and television ratings are off of those highs of a few years ago.

But economic times have been tough for a while so why have sponsors just now come to realize the power they have? Well, it seems as though the Busch brothers can be thanked for that. As amazing as it may seem, those who pay the bills had to be awakened to the fact that they can actually make demands of race teams.

Keep in mind that The Home Depot did once fine Stewart for his actions but that came off more as a PR grab than real disciplinary action.

However, when Kyle Busch intentionally wrecked Ron Hornaday under caution in a Camping World Truck Series event at the Texas Motor Speedway, the Mars Candy company was rumored to have considered leaving Joe Gibbs Racing. And it seems as though that got the attention of those most dependant on the M&M’s maker’s cash. Busch was made to at least appear contrite as he sat on the team pit box after being benched by NASCAR for his actions.

But the real lesson to be learned by sponsors would be taught a few weeks later when Kyle’s older brother, Kurt, was caught on video blasting an ESPN camera crew in the garage area of the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Shortly thereafter, Kurt Busch and his Penske Racing team parted ways. Rumor has it that sponsor Shell Oil was very much a player in Busch’s departure.

Now, all of a sudden, sponsors are rumored to be demanding performance from lagging teams and drivers as well as expecting proper behavior from their high profile representatives. Lesson learned. Money does buy influence, especially when those willing to give it away aren’t lined up outside the doors of those Charlotte area team palaces otherwise known as garages like they were a decade ago.

Sponsors have realized the power they have. And it took the Busch brothers to teach them that lesson.

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5 Responses to “Busch brothers helped sponsors realize how much power they have”

  1. Sue Rarick Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    The problem with sponsors gaining more say is that like in a number of other business’ they will dillute the product. The keyword being product. There will be no concern about racing, just how to promote the sponsors products.

    Of course media will be promoting how great the ‘racing’ is. But then media has always known who butters their bread.

  2. The Mad Man Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    It’s taken sponsors a while to realize that they actually do have some power. Money buys speed but as we can see it also buys influence.

    Some sponsors will have a tough time getting some drivers to step up their performance because of the vehicles they drive and the limitations placed on them by the sanctioning body. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. But some other drivers who drive good equipment will have to put up or shut up. Their sponsors aren’t very happy with the Return On Investment (ROI) they’ve been getting. A good example is Home Depot. Stale Bread hasn’t delivered despite having good equipment and plenty of opportunity. And they are starting to ask for results if the scuttlebutt is true. So he’s either going to have to stand and deliver or expect to spend next season either in another car or out of NASCAR altogether.

    And in relation to the Busch brothers, Z-Line wasn’t at all happy with what the younger Busch did to Ron Hornaday and as such has jerked all their racing sponsorship from what I’ve heard.

  3. Tony Geinzer Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    I’d prefer someone who isn’t a raw needle like Kurt and Kyle to drive my cars.

  4. Chris Fiegler Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Which Busch Brother will win the Most Races in 2012 in Both the Sprint Cup Series & the Nationwide Series?

  5. Savage Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Hope the busch boys enjoy whipping the minor league teams every week. The egos of these spoiled jerks are simply incredible. Enjoy the playground, jerks.