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Economic downturn could have NASCAR facing a crossroads

November 12, 2008

Brian France believes that the economic woes in NASCAR will even out
Other industry analysts believe this could be a dire time for NASCAR sponsorships
NASCAR marketing executives say that fan loyalty will keep the sponsorships
The woes of the Big 3 car companies could have a deadly effect on NASCAR.
The woes of the Big 3 car companies could have a deadly effect on NASCAR.
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The France family has weathered economic hardship before, manufacturer pull-outs, oil shocks, recession. And still NASCAR's founding family has managed to keep its stock car series on the race track, seed exponential growth in the 1980s and grope for national major league status.

Therein seems to lie third-generation chairman Brian France's belief that although the series his grandfather founded needs to become "leaner and meaner," these foreboding financial times, too, shall equalize. That lifeblood sponsor dollars for his series and its race teams will again be attainable, cost-cutting will not become such a regimented part of the daily business of running a sport, even though the major U.S. automakers that spend hundreds of millions to affiliate themselves with NASCAR as a marketing tool have insufficient cash to survive a year without a government bailout.

This, too, he said, shall pass. "It certainly helps as [corporations] look at things they can't afford to do in the future, usually, we're one of the last things that they don't want to continue, because they know that it works so well," France said. "Most of the companies, even in tough economic times do want to sell their products and services. So we will come out of this, and we will do our part with the rest of the sports and entertainment to weather the storm. And we've been here before with energy crisis and 9/11, and many other recessions and so on. And it's never fun. It's never easy on our teams. It's never easy on us, but we'll get through it."

That sort of thinking, said an industry analyst, is one of the reasons NASCAR is in greater peril than at any time in its 60-year history. The confluence of dependence on outside sponsor money so increasingly scarce during the current credit crunch and the possibility of a collapse among the Big 3 U.S. automakers makes this a critical time, said Peter De Lorenzo, publisher of

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Economic downturn could mean perilous times for NASCAR - Brant James -
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