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Report: National Guard’s NASCAR program barely nets any new recruits

May 8, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

NRA 500 Getty Images

The National Guard’s racing sponsorships were in the news earlier this year, mainly in the Verizon IndyCar Series ranks where it transferred from Panther Racing to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

But on the NASCAR side, where more dollars are spent annually and the sponsorship is higher profile with Dale Earnhardt Jr., it hasn’t necessarily generated the best return.

In a USA Today report released Wednesday, the 2012 season saw the Guard spend $26.5 million but did not sign a single new recruit. The same report said a total of $88 million has been spent over the last three years from 2011 to 2013, but couldn’t determine a number of prospects or recruits.

While the exposure remains – the report said 90 percent who enlisted or re-enlisted from 2007 to 2013 indicated that they had been exposed to information about the service through NASCAR-related recruiting and retention materials, per a National Guard spokesman – the deliverables of new signups appear to be lacking.

It’s an interesting situation, and one too where Hendrick Motorsports is working hard to cover its bases in terms of putting together other sponsorships. Nationwide Insurance was announced last week as a new primary sponsor for at least 12 Sprint Cup races for Dale Jr. starting in 2015; Mtn Dew, Kelley Blue Book and others also enjoy a prominent role with the 88 car.

  1. techmeister1 - May 8, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    Motorsports marketing is a tricky proposition for most entities. The marketing managers who buy into it do so primarily based on CPM to reach a target audience. In reality few companies are able to track the true performance of their marketing expenditures in motorsports.

    From my conversations with a number of folks who write the checks for these programs, they don’t necessarily want to be able to provide hard data as to the success or lack there of for these programs. The well run marketing programs are able to achieve great success but it takes tie-ins and other promotional activities beyond just placing you name of a car and crew uniforms.

    • bru308 - May 9, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      Excellent point. To dive further into that, there’s no telling how many young men and women were persuaded to join the National Guard because of this sponsorship. These folks aren’t signing up at the track in JR’s pit stall. They’re going to the racetrack, seeing National Guard on JR’s car, and then possibly signing up weeks, months, or years later. So, this report I assume states that not one single recruit signed up at the track…. but how many did at the local recruitment office after seeing JR race a National Guard car? Who knows?

      Do I think it’s worth $26.5 million? No, probably not. But I have no data or inside info to back that up.

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