For the fourth time in its history, the top touring series in NASCAR has gained a new presenting sponsor and will have a new name. However, that new name for the series won’t be known for several weeks.
Monster Beverage Corporation was announced as the new series sponsor Thursday during a press conference in Las Vegas led by NASCAR chairman Brian France. Monster Energy will begin its tenure as naming rights partner on Jan. 1, 2017. The multi-year agreement is for the premier series entitlement as well as the annual NASCAR All-Star Race. As part of the agreement, the brand also becomes the Official Energy Drink of NASCAR.
“It’s a global brand that we took a long time to figure out,” said France Thursday . “It’s one of the few sales calls that I actually personally made because of how important it was to align ourselves with a dynamic brand that reaches different places and different audiences, and they made us feel very comfortable over time on a couple things. One was motorsports is their DNA, and when you walk through their lobby in California, you see that. You see the motorcycles and NASCAR memorabilia and all kinds of things, and that’s who they are, so they understand motorsports. They understand NASCAR. They understand how to reach across and excite our core audience and help us deliver on a new audience, and that was very exciting for us.”
The addition of the brand will appeal to a more youthful demographic. One that NASCAR has been trying to appeal to for quite some time.
“When we got to know the team,” France said. “We understood that they understand how to execute, too, and you’re going to see that at the tracks, every track, all over the place, and they are going to do things that are going to be fun. They’re going to be impactful. They’re going to be exciting for our drivers and our teams. They’re going to do things for our related sponsor agreements from a business to business standpoint, and then we’re going to do some things for them, too, because we’re going to give them a platform that they’ve never had before, and they’re very excited about that.”
France said the exact name and composite logo for the series is still being worked on and will be announced in the coming weeks.
“They’re an edgy brand,” France added. “They’re a fun brand. They get at a millennial audience in a different way clearly than we’ve ever been associated with, particularly at this level, and they know what they’re doing. This is their DNA. This is not something they’re rolling into, and frankly even Sprint and Nextel before them, this is motorsports and the level of commitment, that was all new to them. That took a while for them to get sorted out, how do you interact with a fan base, how do you activate at the track, how do you do media, how do you do all those things. They ended up being very good at it, but these guys are ready on day one, and even though it’s December and a bit late in the game, you know, they have the activation tools, the plans and the people. They do it all in house. They were very impressive when they laid out how they go about these positions in motorsports. So they’re ready on day one. They’re a fun brand that’s going to interact with our core fans in kind of a cool, neat way actually, and we’ve seen some of the plans, and they’ll get bigger and more robust as we go along.”
“Monster Energy has an established and versatile history in motorsports, and we’re thrilled to take this historic next step,” said Rodney Sacks, Monster Beverage Chairman and CEO. “We feel strongly that our brand is a perfect fit for this sport and its star athletes. We look forward to interacting with the millions of passionate NASCAR fans week-in, week out.”
Monster Energy was an associate sponsor for driver Robby Gordon in 2007. They currently sponsor Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kurt Busch. Thursday they said that sponsorship will continue.
Monster Energy is currently the title for AMA Supercross. They also have a presence in motorsports ranging from Formula 1, MotoGP, NHRA Australian Supercars, rallycross, drifting, and several areas of off-road racing including the Baja 1000 and Dakar Rally.
The top tier touring Series was known as the NASCAR Grand National Series until 1972, when R.J Reynolds tobacco company took over sponsorship. The series became the NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National Division and the series yearly national championship title the NASCAR Winston Cup. That partnership remained until 2003 when the Federal government began restricting activities tobacco companies could do in terms of marketing.
Telecommunications company NEXTEL took over the title sponsorship starting in 2003, and from 2004 until 2008 the top tier was known as the NASCAR NEXTEL Series. NEXTEL merged with Sprint in 2006 and starting in 2008, the top tier became the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. Sprint announced in 2014 that they would not be the entitlement sponsor beyond the 2016 season.
Thursday’s announcement is the culmination of a lengthy and thorough search by NASCAR to find the successor to Sprint, whose entitlement sponsorship will end on December 31, 2016.
Steve Phelps, NASCAR executive vice president and chief global sales and marketing officer, said that the sanctioning body spoke with numerous companies throughout the process, ultimately choosing Monster Energy for a number of reasons, not the least of which was its lifestyle culture.
“We have the good fortune of finding a brand that we believe works for our sport,” Phelps said. “They’re going to bring their lifestyle to their activation. … They’re going to bring their brand, their excitement, their energy to this partnership and the fans are going to be the winners. It’s all about engaging the fans and having the fans have unique, fun experiences whether at the racetrack or through different mediums, through social, digital, content.”
Phelps said a number of ancillary details will be announced in the coming weeks. Among those still under discussion is the name of the series, the series mark and the championship trophy.
Under the agreement, energy drink sponsors already involved in NASCAR may remain in place. Potential sponsors from the energy drink category will not be eligible for future sponsorship if not already involved in the sport.
“We’re very confident that this is the right partner for us,” France said of the latest sponsor Thursday. “We’re looking forward to having some fun with it. By the way, we’re in the fun business. We’re racing cars. We’re crowning champions. We’re — this is where people come to have fun, right? Our speedways and watch us on television, what better brand to have associated with us than the people who understand that.
“So we couldn’t be more excited.”
— Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) December 1, 2016
— Darrell Wallace Jr (@BubbaWallace) December 1, 2016
— Steve O’Donnell (@odsteve) December 1, 2016