NASCAR Merchandising income plummets

Virtually all NASCAR drivers' merchandise income is currently below $1M, and many "aren't cracking six figures," according to Nate Ryan of

When NASCAR’s merchandising boom was at its "peak more than a decade ago, a top star’s revenue share hovered" at $3-4M annually. But now their merchandise income "isn’t commensurate with the biggest stars in dirt-track racing." A World of Outlaws champion "might pull in" up to $1M.

Under NASCAR’s 10-year contract for its trackside merchandise business with Fanatics that started in '15, 75% of the revenue goes to Fanatics, which "provides the infrastructure, marketing, staffing, transportation and security."

Meanwhile, of the rest of the revenue, 15% goes to the track, 9% goes to the teams — "which generally is divvied into thirds between the team, driver and sponsor" — and 1% goes to NASCAR.

Ryan noted some drivers "use websites to sell their own products (sometimes tied to their own brands, such as Tony Stewart’s 'Smoke' moniker) and keep a lion’s share of profits — though it isn’t always a cost-effective choice."

The "root problem for a NASCAR driver’s take, though, isn’t how the pie gets divvied," it is "how large the pie is." Merchandise sales "fell off a cliff with the Great Recession and continue to sag for multiple reasons." Top stars "still might be grossing in the mid-seven figures annually, but they feel a larger pinch because their cut remains roughly the same as when their total revenues were much greater."

However, there is "great opportunity for the next crop of 20-something stars to make an impact on fans’ purchasing consideration." Ryan: "As their popularity grows, they would be wise to capitalize on it by being as aggressive with fan outreach as dirt-track drivers."

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