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Motorsports Sponsorship Spending To Increase To $3.51 Billion in 2011
Signaling a slight resurgence of corporate interest in motorsports marketing, North American-based companies will spend an estimated $3.51 billion to sponsor teams, tracks and sanctioning bodies this year, up 4.2 percent from $3.37 billion spent in 2010, according to IEG Sponsorship Report, the world's leading authority on sponsorship.

While the increase lags IEG SR's 5.9 percent increase in overall sponsorship spending and 6.1 percent growth for all sports properties, it is good news following motorsports' 2.1 percent rise last year and six percent decline from 2009 to 2010.

"Without a doubt, the tide has turned in terms of corporate interest in motorsports. Although it's still a difficult sales environment, corporate purse strings have significantly loosened as compared to the last several years," said William Chipps, IEG SR's senior editor.

With the exception of several new deals with the Izod IndyCar Series, most recent activity has occurred at the team and track level, not with sanctioning bodies, Chipps said.

Among deals of note for the upcoming season, Penske Racing recently announced a handful of new sponsors, as well as expanded deals with existing partners. New partners include Coca-Cola North America; GuidePoint Systems; Meijer, Inc.; Shell Oil Co. and Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s Wypall Wipers.

Other notable deals at the team level include the American Assn. of Retired Persons becoming primary sponsor for 22 races a year of Hendrick Motorsports' NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entry driven by Jeff Gordon; truck manufacturer Navistar Int'l Corp.'s multiyear partnership with Roush Fenway Racing; and Stanley Black & Decker, Inc.'s renewal with Richard Petty Motorsports.

The latter agreement will see the return after a one-year absence of the DeWalt power tool brand to Sprint Cup as co-primary sponsor of the car driven by Marcos Ambrose. DeWalt will split the primary position with sibling Stanley; prior to the year-old merger between Stanley and Black & Decker, DeWalt was the primary sponsor for 10 years of the Roush Racing Sprint Cup entry driven by Matt Kenseth.

At the track level, Lowe's Cos. will title the March 6 Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on behalf of its Kobalt Tools brand, while Performance Enhancing Meat Snacks, Inc. this year will kick off a full season with Int'l Speedway Corp.'s tracks--as well as Richard Petty Motorsports--on behalf of its caffeinated Perky Jerky meat snack.

Deal-making at the sanctioning body level remains quiet. While the Izod IndyCar Series has announced new partnerships with wholesale insurance marketer Global Corporate Alliance and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.'s Sheraton brand for the 2011 season, NASCAR and the NHRA have not announced any significant league-wide deals.

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