In 1971, NASCAR introduced R.J. Reynolds Winston as the sport’s first “title sponsor”. With the company’s financial support came many promotional opportunities to extend the sport to new fans while adding excitement. This move would help send the series into its modern era. The All-Star race and Grand Slam Winston Million were introduced at the conclusion of the 1984 season. These events were put in place to enhance the spectators’ experience and give competitors a great opportunity to compete for cash bonuses.
At the conclusion of the 2003 season, Nextel/Sprint and NASCAR announced a partnership to form the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series
. With this came additional chances to advance the sport through technology. Several changes, like a playoff system, the “Chase for the Cup
” and a new championship trophy would elevate the sport to new heights. Television ratings and attendance would hit all-time highs.
After the conclusion of arguably one of the most exciting seasons ever in 2014, Sprint announced they would leave the sport after 2016. There’s no question that in the past few years the series has lost some of its mojo and connection with fans. NASCAR has walked the tight rope between attracting new fans and keeping its diehards. In many ways, they’ve failed at both.
This season, the sport has gained back some momentum. Adding the right sponsorship partner would continue this upswing, and different promotions could help attract younger fans, yet not push away the older ones. NASCAR is in a prime position, but they must ink the right partner to continue this success.