Three Tiers of Sponsorship: Breaking Down NASCAR's Sponsor Process

By: Aaron Blake, @aaronmblake_

Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 car have been sponsored by Lowe's since 2001 when he started. This is the longest standing primary sponsorship deal in NASCAR today. (Photo via sportingnews.com)

Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 car have been sponsored by Lowe's since 2001 when he started. This is the longest standing primary sponsorship deal in NASCAR today. (Photo via sportingnews.com)

NASCAR is not like any other sport when it comes to looking like a team. In fact, teams with multiple drivers do not have the same color cars, nor do they have the same sponsors on their Chevrolet, Toyota or Ford machines. 

Hendrick Motorsports, located in small town Concord, NC, is home to some of NASCAR’S most elite drivers. Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and 21-year-old Chase Elliott all call HMS home. 

Between these four drivers, HMS has 16 sponsors including Lowe’s, NAPA, Great Clips, Nationwide Insurance, Axalta and now Hooters as of January 23rd.

Some years, teams like Hendrick will gain and drop sponsors depending on the company and offers.

When it comes to sponsorship packages, there are multiple tiers of opportunities for companies and brands.

The smallest, but certainly not the least important sponsors, are known as contingency sponsors.

These sponsors are used by every team and car and include the likes of Mahle, Moog, K&N, Edelbrock, Sunoco, and more.

Contingency sponsor are ‘in-kind’ sponsors, meaning that cars get to use their sponsorship because the parts used in the cars stem from these companies. When watching a race, these are the sponsors that are littered all along the front and sides of the car.

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The next tier includes the associate sponsors. These companies pay to have a maximum of three locations on the car.

Business Insider produced a chart, most recently in 2013, explaining that a company can pay any price from $250,000 to $2 million for the season, for an associate sponsorship on the lower left quarter panel near the left front wheel, B-post next to the safety net, and the C-post behind the rear window.

Associate sponsorships usually last for the whole season or select races, depending on the needs of the teams or brands. 

The final tier, and the most expensive one, is the primary sponsorship. 

One of the most recognizable primary sponsorship from the last decade is Jimmy Johnson's Lowe's 48 car.

This primary sponsorship, while lucrative due to Johnson's success, can cost Lowe's up to $400,000 per race for up to five car locations and an additional $15,000-$40,000 for the Kobalt logo placement.

According to Business Insider, over the 38 race NASCAR season, primary sponsors will pay between $5 and $35 million dollars. 

While expensive, primary sponsors have theie logos placed on the hood, rear quarter panel, TV panel, deck lid and roof panel. They also dictate which color the car will be, and their logo is slapped onto the driver's fire-suit.

With Monster Energy taking over as the official sponsor of the NASCAR Cup Series, don't be surprised if you see new sponsors arrive onto the scene to replace old sponsors and earn their share of success throughout the 2017 campaign.

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