By Summer Bedgood – The NASCAR Nationwide Series will only be the NASCAR Nationwide Series for one more year, and fans will then be subject to something they have been resistant to as of late: change. With Nationwide Insurance leaving its sponsorship obligations at the end of the season, the door is now open for a wide range of sponsors to take over the title of NASCAR’s No. 2 series.
Sports Business Daily reports that NASCAR is asking $12 million to $15 million per year for the sponsorship. An additional $10 million in media and activation commitment would bring the hefty price tag to around $30 million a year. If NASCAR has its way, the deal will be in place for at least 10 years.
If you’ve been a NASCAR fan for a while now, you’ll recognize this as a “déjà vu” moment. When the “NASCAR Busch Series” lost Busch as their title sponsorship, we asked the same questions about what the name of the series would be from thence forward. At that time, several different companies were reportedly interested or in discussions with NASCAR, including KFC, Dunkin Donuts, AutoZone, and Subway. In fact, SBJ says Subway was close to a deal before they decided that they weren’t interested.
If we’re being honest, it’s kind of fun to toy with the idea of various companies involved and imagining hearing what is now the Nationwide Series referred to as something else. The “NASCAR Subway Series”, the “NASCAR AutoZone Series.” Heck, there has been some discussions as to whether or not NAPA, who left Michael Waltrip Racing after the Richmond debacle, will decide instead to be a title sponsors of the Nationwide Series.
If remember when Busch first announced its departure from NASCAR at the end of the 2007 season and all the sticklers announced proudly, “I’m still going to call it the Busch Series!” Honestly, though, I thought the NASCAR Nationwide Series rolled off the tongue pretty well. It sounded less like corporate interference and highly similar to that of “NASCAR National Series”, which is what NASCAR’s secondary series used to be called anyways. In fact, unless you see the logo, you might not even think of Nationwide Insurance when you first hear the name.
Actually, the Sprint Cup Series isn’t much different. Though it doesn’t take any imagination to know that the “Sprint” in Sprint Cup Series refers to the cellphone company, the title could also be read as a “sprint to the finish” type of line. It was a very easy transition from the “NASCAR Nextel Cup Series” and, in my opinion, sounded a lot cooler.
The only title sponsor I’ve ever thought sounded a little awkward was the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Though I can speak and write it now without any hesitation, as it has by now become habit, it doesn’t seem to roll off the tongue as easily as the other two series. It doesn’t seem to “fit in” to the NASCAR mold as much as the other two. That’s not to say that I want to see Camping World leave the sport or be replaced, but it was just one of those changes that took a little longer to get used to.
So when it comes to the Nationwide Series, I’m going to hate to see Nationwide leave. They seemed to really embrace NASCAR and its drivers in their television ads, promotions, and the sport itself. They engaged with the fans and the title sponsor of the series seems to be one that even the longtime fans finally converted to. I very rarely hear anyone call it the “NASCAR Busch Series” anymore.
Though it might seem a little selfish, and somewhat ridiculous, to appeal to a sponsor because the name is easier to say, the sponsor will ultimately be the identity of the series. I won’t have any issues with the sport if we get the “NASCAR Subway Series” or the “NASCAR KFC Series”, especially if they engaged with the fans in the way that Nationwide and Busch did. I can’t imagine a company would spend hundreds of millions of dollars in a sport and not do so. However, you have to admit the “NASCAR AutoZone Series” or “NASCAR NAPA Series” would fit the motorsports mold moreso than other potential options.
Either way, though, I hope someone steps up to the plate soon. The sooner we know for sure who the sponsor will be, the sooner I can open up a Word document and type it over and over and over again. By the time 2015 rolls around, I’m determined to have already mastered the new name for NASCAR’s No. 2 series. Bring on the changes.