Penske lures yet another sponsor using his B-To-B connections

Roger Penske

No one ever said race team owners had scruples or ethics. Because of the need for money, lots of money, many team owners would eat their offspring to survive. As he has done time and time again to lure a sponsor from another smaller race teams, the additional business that Roger Penske’s companies could provide helped lure Shell/Pennzoil to move its sponsorship after four years with Richard Childress Racing to Penske Racing beginning in 2011, a company executive said Saturday.

In announcing the change last month, Shell/Pennzoil moved from current points leader Kevin Harvick to 2004 Cup champion Kurt Busch. It also moved into being part of the Penske empire, where it will have several business-to-business opportunities with Penske’s car dealerships and truck-leasing companies. Being a smaller team, RCR, probably needs the sponsor money even more than Penske, but the big boys in racing always find a way to step on the small guys.

“The B-to-B play was really what pushed it over the edge," said Heidi Massey-Bong, Shell’s senior business adviser for NASCAR sponsorships. “Roger is involved in many different endeavors. For us, as lubricants and fuel, it opens up many doors for us and there’s huge possibilities.

“That definitely highly swayed the decision. It was very bittersweet for us. We think the world of Richard and his organization. But doing what’s best for our brands in the future, we’ll have to make that leap over to Penske. We’re excited about the opportunities it will bring."

If Shell/Pennzoil can show a certain amount of sales as a direct result of the NASCAR sponsorship, it strengthens the return on investment (ROI) that is important to company leadership, said Massey-Bong, who was at Charlotte Motor Speedway because it is a track where Pennzoil has a major marketing presence.

“This opportunity with Penske – you’re not looking at research and making assumptions on how much product actually is being bought," Massey-Bong said. “We’ll clearly be able to show what the sponsorship truly brings to the bottom line. In today’s economy, we’re no different than any other sponsor in the garage, we want to make sure that we can ensure that we will stay in the sport.

“We don’t want to leave the sport, but we’ve got to get the ROI and this is a perfect way to do that."

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