With these astronomical expenditures NASCAR owners had to find someway to pay the bills-- in other words, for someone to subsidize their teams. Unlike the old days, the prize money for winning a race is not nearly enough. What used to cost tens of thousands of dollars a year has now skyrocketed to at least $15 million/year.
Always searching for an opportunity to display their logos to American consumers, corporate American realized that with an estimated 75 million fans, NASCAR racing was the second most popular sport in the U.S. (Football is number one) Considering the impact those millions of fans could have on their bottom-line, these companies salivated over the chance to support NASCAR events. In return, however, company logos would be prominently displayed on the cars, equipment, and uniforms. In addition, drivers were obligated to mingle with the guests in the corporate tent on race day, make guest appearance at corporate functions and in advertisements, as well as speak at employee pep rallies, all under the name of “personal services”.
There are three main levels of sponsorship – Associate, Major, and Primary. The amount of financial support for a team will vary not only on the level of sponsorship agreed to but within that level to such perks as the number of driver appearances, advertising guarantees, and most importantly, where the companies logo or logos will appear on the cars. An example of the typical costs for each level and the logo placement possibilities is illustrated as follows:
- $500,000 to $2 million for an Associate sponsor - A logo on either the lower rear quarter panels, the rear deck lid, or one post.
- $2 to $5 million for a Major sponsor - A logo prominently displayed on either the rear quarter panels or the rear deck lid, and the uniforms.
- $10 to $20 million for a Primary sponsor - Logos on the entire hood and quarter panels, the signage below the quarter panels, most of the two posts, the equipment, the uniforms, as well as the color scheme of the car and team uniforms.
The top racing teams are able to attract deep-pocket sponsors and with escalating costs many teams have found it necessary to contract with two or more sponsors at the same time.