Does racing really sell cars? UPDATE Just thought it would be worth noting that the marquees running in NASCAR last year all showed sales declines while those affiliated with ALMS, namely Acura, Audi, Porsche, Mazda, & Ferrari all had record US sales a year ago. Makes you wonder where the real relevance is, doesn’t it?
02/06/07 The boastful automotive industry's advertising slogan used to be: Race on Sunday and sell on Monday. I don't remember if statistics pointed toward a steady flow of buyers to showrooms, but at least it caught the fancy of the Madison Avenue agencies that produced these grand television commercials, newspaper and magazine propaganda.
Like passing in review of automobile history, the NASCAR racing fields were full of hot-running Hudsons, Oldsmobiles, Chryslers, Matadors, Plymouths, Buicks and Pontiacs. They all had their moments in victory circle to give their companies reason to brag.
But, those names have disappeared from the NASCAR garages. The battles remain among Fords, Chevys and Dodges. Oh yes, there will be a new entry this year from Toyota.
This particular reflection of the past was stimulated by a recent National Speed Sport News column, which posed the question whether Ford might be ready to withdraw from racing.
NSSN's Greg Zyla's asked Ford representatives since it was offering nearly 30,000 factory employees buyouts because of slumping company sales was it wise to continue financing a race program.
Company officials denied it was backing down in 2007. However, one might question the wisdom of spending money in racing when domestic sales have dropped. With the impending sales strength of Japanese automobiles, it would indicate full attention of the American builders should focus on the non-racing consumer. Still, the younger generation is apparently more interested in trucks.
Kevin Kennedy, Ford's racing technology public affairs manager, said the company's involvement in racing is just fine. He said since Dan Davis came aboard nine years ago as director of Ford Racing, he has done extensive research as to who the fan is, what his or her buying habits are and what type of car in which the consumer is interested.
Fifty-six percent of those surveyed expressed an interest in racing, according to Kennedy. Purchase consideration was 72 percent higher for Ford products among race fans than non-fans. Still, Ford is facing multi-million dollar losses and hopes its worker reduction will turn things around. Kennedy claims the company is more efficient (in spending) than anyone else in the racing business. Ramona Journal [Editor's Note: This is why Ford had to deep six the Ford Taurus they were racing in NASCAR because sales were so bad. It's nice to say this stuff, but the facts don't lie.]