Friday, June 30, 2006

Money Makes the Racecars Go 'Round

This week is race week in Kansas City. The Indy Racing League, Craftsman NASCAR Truck Series and the ARCA Remax Series come to town. You might notice that I included all of the names of the series' sponsors. That's because racing is all about money. Drivers always rattle off their long list of sponsors after winning a race, and I can only image how funny it will be to hear Will Ferrell do it in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. At Kansas Speedway, and all other International Speedway Corporation tracks, this happens in Gatorade Victory Lane.

After the driver finishes the long-winded sponsor tribute they do the "hat dance." This consists of taking pictures wearing a hat from nearly every team and race sponsor. It's pretty funny to see in person. However, it's not as funny as watching the television crews make the winning driver wait to get out of his car and celebrate until the station comes back from commercial so they can air the live shot.

The trend in many professional sports is corporate naming rights. Racing has been doing this long-before I was born. Before NASCAR was the Nextel Cup, it was the Winston Cup. These guys know that racing is expensive and the only way to keep racing is to find someone to pay for it. So when racing becomes the fastest-growing sport in the country, many companies realize associating their brands with racing isn't such a bad idea.


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