GM may axe Daytona sponsorship

General Motors Corp. has not decided whether to renew a decades-long sponsorship of the Daytona International Speedway and its signature stock car race, the Daytona 500, despite the deal's expiration in three weeks.

GM has a multiyear agreement that ends Dec. 31 to serve as the official car and truck provider of the speedway and the Daytona 500, NASCAR's most prestigious event, speedway spokesman Andrew Booth said Thursday. The race is Feb. 15.

"I know we've had some talks with them but right now, we are continuing to explore opportunities," he said. "We don't comment on our prospects."

GM said discussions are under way about the Daytona sponsorship but the automaker has not reached an agreement.

"We don't comment about our business discussions," GM spokeswoman Jan Thomas said.

The Daytona sponsorship dates to the early 1970s. GM provides fire and safety vehicles, pace cars and other vehicles for use during the race, as well as a July race at the track. GM did not disclose how much it spends on the Daytona deal or NASCAR sponsorships.

GM, which is in danger of collapsing without a federal loan, is scaling back on corporate sponsorships. Major League Baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates announced this week the automaker did not renew its one-year sponsorship deal.

The automaker has also recently ended an endorsement deal with PGA golfer Tiger Woods and opted not to advertise during Super Bowl XLIII, the prime time Emmy Awards and the 2009 Academy Awards, among other moves.

GM is slashing costs after losing almost $73 billion in the past four years and suffering through the worst industry-wide sales slump in 26 years. Its U.S. sales this year are down 22 percent.

Analysts say GM has been forced to scrutinize major expenditures pending the outcome of its request for an emergency loan from the federal government.

"GM may be waiting to make sure the loan money comes through, or that they want to take a look at what the (spending) restrictions are before they spend any money," said Wes Brown of the Los Angeles marketing research firm Iceology. "In this current situation, you've got to assume there is no way GM is going to pay what it paid before and NASCAR has got to recognize it can't expect to get what it got before." More at Detroit News

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