For NASCAR the loss of Monster Energy as title sponsor may open up a brave new world

NASCAR’s top tier Cup series will still be called the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for another year. NASCAR and the energy drink brand announced the extension Tuesday that will keep the name through 2019.

“NASCAR and Monster Energy enjoyed a productive first year and both parties have benefited significantly from the partnership,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR Chief Operating Officer. “Monster Energy successfully utilized our sport as a platform to elevate its brand and drive business, while introducing NASCAR to new audiences. With this renewal, we look forward to building upon our early success.”

“Over the past year, NASCAR’s passionate and brand loyal fan base embraced Monster Energy and we are excited to be able to continue to build on and strengthen that momentum through 2019,” said Rodney Sacks, Monster Beverage Chairman and CEO. “Racing is in our DNA and extending this partnership further establishes Monster Energy’s prominence in motorsports.”

What sponsorship for the premier series will look like beyond next year however is left open for debate.

After decades of a single sponsorship for the premier series for multi-years starting with Winston in 1971 a partnership that lasted until 2004 when Nextel took over the sponsorship, followed by Sprint in 2008, Monster Energy took over in 2017, for reportedly much less than any title sponsor had ever paid.

Now, the history of one sponsor for the top tier series for more than a few years may be over.

NASCAR is now looking at the possibility of a new sponsorship model that will bundle sponsorships with TV networks, tracks, and the sanctioning body and take the single name sponsorship in the top tier series off the table.

Speaking with reporters in Charlotte Tuesday, Phelps said that at the end of 2019 don’t expect Monster Energy to disappear altogether; instead they could become an official partner without being an actual title sponsor.

This new model is currently in the early stages and may not happen at all. If officials decide it won’t, the hunt will be on for a new title sponsor.

“We’re going to explore a different model because we think it will benefit the industry,” Phelps said. “If the sponsors come back and say that they’re not sure this is the best avenue for us to partner with, then we’ll have to pivot and look in a different direction. Could we go back to an entitlement partner model for our top series?

“We could, but again, that’s not our intention.”

The racing will go on for many years, that’s for certain. What’s not certain is what the current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be called when the green flag drops at Daytona to start the 2020 season.

There may be a new title sponsor ready to step up to the plate, or we may just be calling it the NASCAR Cup series; either way NASCAR executives are about to embark on a marketing program that no one in the sport has tried before; a brave new world with an outcome that is as of now far from certain.

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