Looking to establish brand identity and credibility for his 3-year-old company, Juan Carlos Martinez sees primary sponsorship of today’s NASCAR Craftsman truck series race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway as a natural fit for his business.
The president of Houston-based QwikLiner truck bedliner systems committed $350,000 as first-year sponsor of the QwikLiner Las Vegas 350. He expects to see about a 30 percent return on investment through increased sales, Martinez said Thursday in Las Vegas.
Sales of QwikLiner products, primarily spray-on chemicals that protect truck beds, are up 300 percent since the race sponsorship was announced at the Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas in October, Martinez said.
“I believe that the pickup truck, it’s an American icon, whether the economy is down or up,” he said during a press conference at New York-New York. “Pickup sales are down, but it’s a product for us that’s just a matter of riding the wave. With all the mess back home (from Hurricane Ike), pickup sales are up. Why? Because you need a truck for their utility, their versatility.”
The economic downturn has forced even Fortune 500 companies to scale back their involvement in racing.
DaimlerChrysler in 2007 ended sponsorship of the NASCAR Cup Series that comes each March to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Dodge is pulling out of the Craftsman truck series next year.
Ford Motor Co. has lost billions of dollars in the past few years, but the racing program plays a key role in the company’s business strategy, said Tim Duerr, marketing manager for Ford Racing.
Henry Ford himself used publicity from his only race in 1901 to attract investors to start Ford Motor Co.
“We have scaled down our investment of funds, our budgets have been curtailed, but we’re still in the sport because we do show a very narrow and positive return on investment,” Duerr said from Detroit. “There are 75 million NASCAR fans out there and 45 million of them are die-hard. They go to races and watch them on TV and they buy products and services supported by NASCAR.”
Research shows that 56 percent of Ford owners classify themselves as race fans and more than 60 percent of F-Series owners are NASCAR fans, Duerr noted. Also, consideration for Ford products is 100 percent higher among race fans than others.
Duerr would not disclose dollar amounts or percentages on Ford Racing’s budget, but he said the company most likely will spend less next year to remain efficient. He estimated $15 in sales on every $1 invested in racing last year.
Martinez said he decided to sponsor the truck race in Las Vegas because it’s a stand-alone event, not part of a larger race weekend with the NASCAR Cup and Busch Series.
That’s a smart move, considering market demand for pickups on the West Coast, Craftsman truck driver and Las Vegas native Brendan Gaughan said.
Gaughan, one of six Ford racers, said every team works hard to find sponsors. He’s no longer sponsored by his father, South Point casino owner Michael Gaughan.
“It’s always been tough, whether you say the economy is down or not,” he said. “We haven’t had a full-time sponsor since 2005 with Jasper Engines.”
Contact reporter Hubble Smith at email@example.com or 702-383-0491.