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Does Army’s decision to retreat from NASCAR mean National Guard will leave Junior?

By admin | July 10, 2012

By Richard Allen


The United States Army has formally announced they will not return as the primary sponsor on the Stewart-Haas Racing car of Ryan Newman in 2013. This announcement comes on the heels of a campaign led by Congresswoman Betty McCollum(D-MN) and Congressman Jack Kingston(R-GA) to end the practice of taxpayer funded organizations like the military spending money to back NASCAR teams.

The Army says their decision was based on a reallocation of funds for marketing that will not include a continued presence in NASCAR. The military branch spent $7 million to get its name on the side of Newman’s car for twelve races in 2011.

Particularly damning to the chances of military funded sponsorship continuing in NASCAR was a report published in May of this year in which it was said that despite the spending of $26.5 million in 2012 toward the support Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and his Hendrick Motorsports team with the National Guard logo, not a single recruit attributed racing sponsorship as a reason for signing up for service.

HMS has received more than $130 million over the last five years from its contract with the National Guard.

A bill that would officially end the practice of military sponsorship of all professional sports, including NASCAR, passed through the House Appropriations Committee on May 17, 2012. Obviously, the Army is not waiting to see whether or not the bill will pass all the way through the full House of Representatives, the Senate and eventually get the President’s signature.

So, will the Guard soon make the same move?

National Guard is serving as the primary sponsor for the #88 car in 16 races this season and as an associate sponsor for the rest of the schedule. They have already stated an intention to reduce their involvement with HMS in 2013. As of May, negotiations between the racing organization and National Guard had not commenced in regard to the extent of their partnership going forward.

The dropping out of the Army as a primary sponsor is not a good sign for NASCAR in general, House bill or not. The report claiming the complete lack of effectiveness of the military’s sponsorship almost certainly raised some warning flags in other industries. The amount of money spent on racing is enormous and the return on investment has to be justifiable or else companies must consider other options in this time of economic uncertainty.

With grandstands often far less than filled and television ratings not what they used to be, one has to wonder if indeed that return on investment is actually there for the military, beer companies, oil companies or any other form of business. It would seem as though NASCAR teams may no longer be handed a blank check from corporate America with which they can conduct their business.

So, will the U.S. Army officially announcing that they are retreating from NASCAR serve as warning shot that sport’s most popular driver could be losing a lucrative backer? And more importantly, will the report of less than expected return on investment mean that less popular and well known drivers will also be losing financial support?

Topics: Articles |

8 Responses to “Does Army’s decision to retreat from NASCAR mean National Guard will leave Junior?”

  1. Nickie Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 12:25 am

    I’m not sure comparing the Army/National Guard to company selling a product is apples to apples. I made a conscious decision to purchase my new tires at Discount Tire because they sponser Brad in Nationwide. I refused to shop at Lowe’s when Tony Stewart drove for Home Depot and I am the same way now about Office Depot. As a loyal fan the brands I see supporting NASCAR have a big impact on my shopping decisions.

  2. z'hills fan Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 7:10 am

    I got a feeling this is only the beginning. Although I’m a great NASCAR fan, especially David Reutimann, the day of these 15+ million sponsorships are about to be a thing of the past. All the team owners better wake up and start going lean because once Army made their announcement the other sponsors are going to follow. I just don’t believe that these moving billboards sell any products other than the ones that are automotive related.

  3. Russ Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 7:23 am

    The bottom line is that this is about whether taxpayer dollars (i.e. yours and mine) is being spent wisely. NOT whether we like racing or not. I’m sure that somewhere there are people who would like the government to sponsor their son’s little league team. But does that make it proper?

    Unless the military can show a return on the investment it needs to be stopped, we have much bigger problems.

    As to Junior, I dont really care but Rick Hendrick can afford him more than I can.

  4. Tony Geinzer Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 7:39 am

    I don’t like losing a sponsor, even if it is the Army. I find that Newman would have a new team in 2013 and Junior would not have the same package beyond this year. I feel NASCAR and Racing Series at large need to do more to recruit Sponsors and keep them from all sides.

  5. Bill B Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    If there is one driver that won’t have to worry about finding a sponsor it’s Dale Jr.

    To everyone else it should be worrisome.

  6. oldirtracker Says:
    July 11th, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    I have been a race fan for over 50 years and always try to support the companies that sponsor Nascar racing. With that said I strongly agree that government funds should not be used for sports sponsorships. It is not realistic to expect a true return on that investment . What bothers me is this bill does not cut the defense budget and save taxpayers money, it only tells them where they cant spend money. McCollum is an idiot and most likely a one termer.

  7. Tyler West Says:
    July 12th, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Man, honestly the sport really needs to reign in the spending of these teams. It’s stupid how much money they burn. I love the sport but I’m afraid they’re going to price themselves into dangerous territory. I’m sure companies would love to get into the sport but the asking price is stupid. But honestly Jr. won’t be in trouble. Sponsors leaving should be warning shots to the teams and Nascar itself. Nascar and the teams need to get over themselves, the price to play is ungodly.

  8. Offkilter Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    How cool would it be to see gatorade back on a car with the #88 on the side? Gatorade is part of pepsico which owns mountain dew. Solid white, round green 88 on door and gatorade logo on the quarter panels. The monte carlo that waltrip drove with that scheme was my favorite as a kid. Aside from that, i dont think hendrick is sweating losing a sponsor on the 88. Other sponsors would blow up the phone and beat the door down to get on that car.