Crown Royal may become Brickyard 400 title sponsor

July 12, 2011
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An unlikely match could give the Indianapolis Motor Speedway a new title sponsor for the Brickyard 400 and a seven-figure windfall starting next summer.

That’s the direction things are headed, despite appearances to the contrary.

For example, it would appear that Crown Royal is preparing to exit NASCAR racing. Earlier this month, the whisky maker announced it would no longer sponsor Matt Kenseth’s car at Roush Fenway Racing after this season. It’s a big blow for the stock car circuit in a still soft economy.

And it would appear—if you merely consider recent attendance numbers—that the Brickyard 400 is a decreasingly desirable sponsorship property. Though IMS officials don’t release attendance figures for the NASCAR race, estimates have pegged attendance decreases at more than 50 percent from the early years when the race drew more than 250,000. The race started in 1994.

Well, appearances can be deceiving.

Sources are beginning to bubble that Crown Royal is ready to sign a deal to become the title sponsor of the Brickyard 400. It’s rumored to be a multi-year deal starting in 2012.

Don’t be surprised if Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Jeff Belskus along with Crown Royal honchos make an announcement at this year’s race.

And, from what I am gathering, it’s no small deal.

It’s bigger than the Allstate title sponsorship deal for the race, which was one of the bigger title deals in NASCAR. Allstate ended its relationship with the Brickyard 400 in 2009.

And stunningly, the Crown Royal deal, from what I’m hearing, is financially bigger than any other current NASCAR title sponsorship deal. Yes, that means bigger than the Coca-Cola 600 and Irwin Tools Night Race (Bristol) deals.

In a soft economy, when the race’s attendance has wavered, Speedway officials are going to get around $1.5 million annually for the title sponsorship of its race, sources are whispering. Motorsports sources aren’t as surprised as race fans might think.

Despite complaints from some fans that the IMS isn’t suited for stock car racing, apparently sponsors still find big-time value in being affiliated with the race and the venue.

The addition of a Nationwide Series and sports car races during the Brickyard 400 weekend starting in 2012—while not popular with supporters of Lucas Oil Raceway, which is losing the events—should only enhance the Speedway’s opportunities to lure new sponsors.

  • But the Speedway is dying. IMS is going under, the family is going to sell and the brand is worth nothing. How could this be? Anthony must be lying. When am I going to get my personal apology?....sorry, I was channeling Chief and the rest of the pity party committee.
  • One NASCAR race
    is worth more than the entire IRL schedule
  • IRL Better than NASCAR
    Two and three years ago I was getting into the whole NASCAR thing, but frankly in my opinion they have not upgraded their brand and now it is the same boring show each week. Earnhart joining the same team with Jeff G. took most of the tension out of the races for Jr. fans and his lack of driving success has been a downer for them and NASCAR. By contrast, did anyone else watch the Toronto IRL race this weekend? Now, that was exciting. To me, it is much different going 150 mph in tight walled corners with open wheels than it is going 150 mph on an open-sided track in a modified sedan. Boring. I am also excited about having more than one engine manufacturer back in IRL. In the old days, it was part of fun having two tire makers, multiple engine makers, and multiple body styles. Just as NASCAR lost me with the COT, IRL also lost me with the same body style and same motor. It has gotten to the place that you almost never see an engine failure, which was part of the excitement at the ends of races: whose engine would blow up and whose would last? Actually, IRL is more like American Formula One, and perhaps it should be embraced as such. We get to see the best drivers in the world driving faster than anyone else, in open wheel where the danger is close enough to reach out and touch, not protected behind layers of sheet metal and logos. IRL is working hard on improving their brand--NASCAR has let theirs get stale, in my opinion.
  • Crown Royal Handoff?
    With Crown Royal being a JustMarketing client, this 'handoff' from Roush Fenway Racing has most likely been in the works for sometime. It's not a coincidence that this happens right after WPP makes a strategic investment in JMI. This will give Crown Royal some extra world-wide marketing muscle. Great news for IMS and NASCAR.
    • Crown Royal
      I guess even in this crummy economy liquor companies aren't suffering.
    • Indy Roadcourse
      I would like to see a bid for an additional cup race on the road course, or even a LeMan's race. That might spark a bit more interest and revenue at IMS, at least in the first few years. I would go back.
    • unbelievable
      It's kind of unbelievable that a company with the profile of Crown Royal would want to be the title sponsor of a flagging NASCAR race. But I guess that just goes to show you the power or TV and the brand of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. If they would have sold a title sponsor for the race in the mid 1990s, they could have gotten even more.
    • Folks in 2011 are getting screwed
      Seriously...don't go in 2011. 2012 has this possible new sponsor, Busch cars and Daytona Turtleturds racing.

      i THINK THE 2011 Brickyard fans should stay home and not spend money at the track due to this.
    • How much for that doggy?
      Can this get any worse? First of all last years crowd looked like an old Indy qual day, now this years sales are reported to be 40% off 2010 pace. How is next years schedule going to be better with slower cars(Nationwide) and a series most NASCAR fans are not familiar with?
      Also, are they going to bundle the price for the weekend so you have to pay for all the races like other tracks have done? Lastly, how will 2 new races bolster the attendance for the Brickyard. Seems the track and the promoters are dancing around this elephant in the room!
    • Does anyone have a clue what Chief is trying to say? He may have finally blown a gasket.
      • Good Points
        Indyman, good question. I have been attending events at IMS since 1959. I choose, of my own free will, to put my enjoyment of racing above the abject stupidity and obvious lack of maturity of others. So I will be attending the BY400 this year, next year and for the forseeable future. I'm coming up on 50 500s and I have attended all the USGPs and MotoGPs as well. I love that place. Good for them they have added new corporate dollars.
      • bruton smith to angry NASCAR Fans
        I guarantee you will have no problem getting into any of my tracks for the IRL races, that just doesn't happen.
      • On average
        NASCAR fans have two more teeth than the average IRL fan
      • IZOD doesn't have $150 for jet fuel
        so their trackside PR girl won't be in Edmonton
      • the truth
        that is a lot less than the millions they were paying jack roush to sponsor a car in NASCAR

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