[../../menu_new_nascar.htm]

Editorial

The Hat Dance

 by Karen Courcy
May 16, 2001

Go to our forums to discuss this article

Have you ever wondered about the seemingly endless parade of hats that are carefully placed upon the driver's head after winning a race? Among the drivers lucky enough to make their way to Victory Lane, it's called the "Hat Dance", and each sponsor who helps pay for the team will get their turn on their winning driver's head. But to some drivers, after the adrenalin filled rush of victory, it can be anticlimactic to go through the "Hat Dance", but in exchange for the dollars pledged by a sponsor, it's a small price to pay. 


Jeremy Mayfield shows off his motor oil sponsorship during the Hat Dance.

After winning a race, the driver has all but a few minutes to celebrate with their team, and then it's off to the victory lane interview, changing of the hats to show off each sponsor for their team, drinking the drink that sponsors them, wiping the sweat off their face with the sponsored towel. It's all part of the unspoken rules of sponsorship.

While the team gets together with the trophy, hats are thrown at them to put on and then take a picture, another hat is put on, then take another picture, and depending on the number of sponsors and hats, it can take some time to finish the Hat Dance. By the time the Hat Dance is complete, the drivers have little time left to celebrate the win with their team. But it's all part of the game, and the team and the driver wouldn't get the opportunity to compete if not for the sponsors.

Sponsors are a big part of racing today; without the sponsors there would be no "Winston Cup", or "Busch" series, or even the "Featherlite" modified racing. But there are strict rules to go along with the sponsorships. Whether it is drinking Coke or Pepsi, splashing the team with Gatorade, or a host of other sponsorship opportunities, everyone involved gets their piece of the win. 


Rusty Wallace poses for the cameras wearing his manufacturer's hat.

The rules can be very strict for the drivers; Dale Earnhardt Jr. says "basically in my contract it says that if I am caught or seen drinking anything other then alcoholic Bud product, if it's not Bud, they can yank the contract, they can sue or whatever they want".

Depending on the level of sponsorship, a primary sponsor may have millions of dollars invested in a driver. For the most part, they have a tremendous interest in what they are sponsoring, but some of the rules and dos and don'ts tied to these contracts can be very limiting. When asked about his thoughts on sponsorship, Dale Earnhardt Jr. discussed his experience driving the Budweiser Chevrolet: "You see sponsors change from car to car and you realize they have interests of what's going on. They don't put their name out there just to be out there, they want their name on the car that's up front. After the race is over with, you get out of your car, and all you want to do is go to your crew and high five, throw beer on each other, and just wrestle on the floor, but they made it so uniform that you get out, you speak to the camera and talk about the race and take pictures and do the "HAT DANCE".

Tony Stewart, driver of the Home Depot Pontiac, had similar thoughts, "they call it the hat dance, you win the race and they start throwing hats on you. There are so many sponsors that make it possible, that's why when you win a race they start throwing hats at you, you put on a hat and you don't even know who's hat it is, you just know you have to just take the picture because it's a sponsor."


Even race sponsors get in the act as Dale Jarrett poses for his Harrahs 500 victory. 

"It can be a pain", continued Dale Earnhardt Jr. "there are like two dozen boxes of hats, and you're sitting there with the trophy and your putting on the sponsor's hat and you take a picture. Change hats, put on another hat, take a picture. It's one after the other, it's annoying! By the time you're done, you're hurrying as fast as you can so you can celebrate with your crew and by the time you are done, you're crews gone, your car has been rolled off to inspection, my dad is like on his jet back home. There is no one to celebrate with; you're just sitting there with a box of hats."

Sponsorship of a race team is an investment in advertising and public relations. Whether it is Budweiser or Home Depot, the sponsors become one with the team, and when the team and driver put it all together; everyone winds up in Victory Lane.
 

The author can be contacted at contacts@autoracing1.com

Go to our forums to discuss this article

Author

Other Cup Articles

Alternatives to the Aero Package
Adam Sewell  05/15/01

Loudon - the Hardest Place to Race
Pete McCole  05/12/01

Morgan-McClure Turns Lepage
Pete McCole  05/11/01

Round and Round at Lowes
Pete McCole  05/10/01

Tony Stewart Goes for Two Prizes
Tim Barrett  05/10/01

CART vs. NASCAR Comparison
Doug Belliveau  05/8/01

California Dreamin'
Frank Ryan  04/25/01

No rest for the NASCAR Driver
Karen Courcy  04/18/01

Rivalry- NASCAR Has It, CART & IRL Don't
Frank Ryan  04/04/01

Is Aero Package to Blame? 
Adam Sewell  04/04/01
 

The Perfect Race
Doug Belliveau  03/14/01

A Dale Earnhardt Memory
John Osborne  03/13/01

Fishing for Answers 
Doug Belliveau 03/08/01

From Typical to Tragedy
Karen Courcy 02/28/01

We will miss him
Lin Loflin 02/27/01

NASCAR needs the Rock
Frank Ryan
02/12/01

Senna and Earnhardt - Rest in peace

Is Your Plate Full?  Adam Sewell 02/12/01

The Greatness of NASCAR Tim Barrett 02/03/01

Rookies Rule NASCAR Frank Ryan 02/02/01

Racing Withdrawal - Diary of a NASCAR Junkie Doug Belliveau 01/23/01

NASCAR Racing and Religion Adam Sewell 01/18/01

Pennzoil Motorsports Show a Big Success Frank Ryan & Doug Belliveau 01/17/01

NASCAR - A sport for the humble Doug Belliveau 01/12/01

2000 Driver Report Cards - Part 4 Doug Belliveau 01/13/01

2000 Driver Report Cards - Part 3 Doug Belliveau 12/21/00

2000 Driver Report Cards - Part 2 Doug Belliveau 12/12/00

2000 Driver Report Cards - Part 1 Doug Belliveau 12/05/00

HANS Device - Part 4 Frank Ryan 12/07/00

HANS Device - Part 3 Frank Ryan 12/01/00

HANS Device - Part 2 Frank Ryan 11/07/00

HANS Device - Part 1 Frank Ryan 10/31/00

Nadeau Can Do by Frank Ryan 11/20/00

NAPA 500 Pre-race report by Frank Ryan 11/17/00

Burton Captures Phoenix
by Frank Ryan 11/5/00

Sophomore jinx for Stewart?  by Doug Belliveau 11/2/00

Speed  by John Clark 10/26/00

Grab the RUDDer Full Speed Ahead by Doug Belliveau 10/24/00

Pop Secret 400 Dale Jarrett finally breaks "The Rock" by Frank Ryan 10/22/00

Talladega 500 Earnhardt wins and that's no bull by Jon Osborne 10/15/00

Hanging out in the infield at the UAW-GM Quality 500 by Lin Loflin 10/10/00

Labonte one-step closer wins UAW-GM Quality 500 by Jon Osborne 10/8/00

The NASCAR Shark Tank by Doug Belliveau 10/5/00

Bill Elliott's crew behind win by Lin Loflin 10/3/00

Kneed for Speed  by Doug Belliveau and Jim Yeager 9/27/00

Short Day for Long  by Doug Belliveau and Frank Ryan 9/26/00

Got Laps?  by Doug Belliveau 9/26/00

Mayfield Claims Pole  by Frank Ryan 9/22/00

NASCAR Racing Cakes The sweet smell of success by Lin Miller 9/21/00

We drive Winston Cup cars with Skip Barber by Mike Marue 9/20/00

Restrictor Plates Are they required for the Monster Mile? by Frank Ryan 9/19/00

Testing Is NASCAR testing itself to death by Frank Ryan 9/19/00

The Penalty Box by Doug Belliveau 9/14/00

Monte Carlo 400 Richmond - Saturday Night Special Frank Ryan 9/10/00

Southern 500 - The battery bunch tames the lady by Jon Osborne 9/3/00

Bristol - Wallace brings a broom to Bristol by Jon Osborne 8/26/00

Bristol - Go chasing, Rusty wins Bristol by Frank Ryan 8/26/00

Camping at The Glen - A weekend of camping at The Glen by Doug Belliveau 8/21/00

Rain Tires - Will Goodyear's Eagles fly n the rain by Frank Ryan 8/17/00

Watkins Glen - Park the car in Victory Lane by Frank Ryan 8/13/00

Brickyard 400 - Labonte's win solid as brick by Frank Ryan 8/5/00

Pennsylvania 500 Race report by Frank Ryan 7/23/00

Pennsylvania 500 Pre-race report 
by Frank Ryan 7/20/00

Name that NASCAR sponsor by Doug Belliveau 7/13/00

ThatLook.com 300 - Rain sweetened victory for Tony Stewart
by Frank Ryan 7/9/00

Pepsi 400 - Jeff Burton leads Ford sweep
by David Cipolloni 7/1/00

Rainbow Warrior wins this battle by Doug Belliveau 6/29/00

Sears Point by Frank Ryan 6/26/00

Mid-Season review by Mark Baudermann 6/23/00

Aged to perfection by Doug Belliveau 6/21/00

Michigan Kmart 400 - Stewart is the Rain Man by Frank Ryan 6/11/00

The Farewell Tour  by Doug Belliveau 6/7/00

Dover MBNA 400 - Tony Stewart dominates The Monster Mile
by David Cipolloni & Frank Ryan 6/4/00

World 600 - Rain doesn't delay Matt Kenseth's Reign
by Frank Ryan 6/1/00

Memories of Speedweek at Charlotte By Mark Baudermann 5/26/00

Don't order the crown.  Yet!  by Doug Belliveau 5/24/00

Nothing lasts forever by Frank Ryan 5/23/00

Visit the Nascartop50

Our ranking out of 750 NASCAR websites since joining on 7/3/00

Convert this page to
another language

e-mail us:
contacts@autoracing1.com

Back to the top

AutoRacing1 is an independent internet online publication and is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by CART Inc., NASCAR, FIA,  FedEx, Winston, or any other series sponsor. This material may not be published, broadcast, or redistributed without permission.
User agreement & disclaimer

Copyright 1999 - 2001, AutoRacing1, Inc., Hamilton, NJ