DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Fenders and hoods on racecars are adorned with decals of big-dollar sponsors. The horizon at most racetracks is cluttered with billboards. Most race names read like a corporate directory. Track names have been auctioned like mint condition Mickey Mantle baseball cards on the Internet.
In a sport where everything is for sale for the right price, the Daytona 500 remains one of the last notable exceptions. And if officials at Daytona International Speedway and NASCAR have their way, it always will be.
''The Daytona 500 just isn't a name you'd want to give up,'' said Jim France, son of the track's founder and president of its parent company, International Speedway Corporation. ''The name for the event, we think, is pretty universally accepted. It's a significant brand in and of itself.''
There are 36 official races and two all-star events on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series schedule. Twenty-six of the 38 have title sponsors, a decrease of five from last season. The value of those title sponsorships varies greatly depending on the race and the facility, ranging from six to seven figures.
However, all of the remaining events other than the Daytona 500 have their title sponsorships on the market.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway had been the only other holdout until it put the title sponsorship for the Brick yard 400 on the market last fall. The asking price is $6 million for three years, according to the sales presentation being offered by the track to potential buyers.
For that price, Indianapolis is promising tickets, pit passes, a floating billboard on the lake along the backstretch that's bound to be captured by network cameras, track signs, logo flags, hospitality areas, Internet banner ads, program ads, and radio ads among other benefits.
The price does not include television exposure. For a title sponsor to buy television advertising would add as much as $2 million to $3 million a year to the cost.
If the Brickyard 400, a 9-year-old event, is able to seek a $6 million asking price, what would title sponsorship to the Daytona 500 NASCAR's premier event be worth?
''Probably in the $75 million for 10 years range,'' said a representative for one of the 500's presenting sponsors, who insisted on anonymity because of his relationship with the race.
The lure to sell the title to the highest bidder has been tempting, France said, but not worth the ramifications.
''I don't know how you could put a value on (the race),'' he said.
''Daytona doesn't need a title sponsor because they've already figured out a way to sell it without giving up the name,'' the representative said. ''It's a very clever idea. They get their money and the sanctity of the Daytona 500 is protected.''
Reach Don Coble at firstname.lastname@example.org
Winston Cup Series events without title sponsors:
Daytona 500 (Sunday at Daytona International Speedway)
Virginia 500 (April 13 at Martinsville Speedway)
Pocono 500 (June 8 at Pocono Raceway)
New England 300 (July 20 at New Hampshire International Speedway)
Pennsylvania 500 (July 27 at Pocono Raceway)
Brickyard 400 (Aug. 3 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway)
Michigan 400 (Aug. 17 at Michigan International Speedway)
Southern 500 (Aug. 31 at Darlington Raceway)
Dover 400 (Sept. 21 at Dover International Speedway)
Kansas 400 (Oct. 5 at Kansas Speedway)
Georgia 500 (Oct. 26 at Atlanta Motor Speedway)
Coors Light, Valvoline, Gatorade, Comcast, Pontiac, Pepsi and VISA pay an estimated $5 million to $7 million combined to be presenting sponsors merely to be associated, not mentioned, with the Daytona 500. Since the price tag varies for each of the seven, none of the representatives from the presenting sponsors will discuss their agreements with the speedway.
As presenting sponsors, company names don't appear in the name of the race. However, they are allowed to use the Daytona 500 and its logos in their advertising and promotions. Presenting sponsors also receive signs in Victory Lane and along pit road, as well as tickets and suites for the race and other luxury accommodations.
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