Q&A with Brian France, Chairman and CEO of NASCAR, and Jim Lyski, Chief Marketing officer of Nationwide Insurance, about the recent announcement that Nationwide will become title sponsor of the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2008:
Q: Why did NASCAR select Nationwide Insurance to be title sponsor of the NASCAR Nationwide Series?
Brian France: Nationwide Insurance is an ideal partner for NASCAR, advocating safe driving, and already serves millions of NASCAR fans with its auto, health, and life insurance. Nationwide Insurance is a distinguished, blue-chip company that is passionate about the sport and has experience through existing partnerships with NASCAR tracks. We’re confident the company will make a seamless transition as a title sponsor and will help this Series continue to expand and grow.
Q. What was it that made the sponsorship attractive to Nationwide Insurance?
Jim Lyski: Nationwide has a history with NASCAR and sees this as a natural progression. When we began our sponsorship with Speedway Motorsports, Inc., eight years ago, we were the first insurance company to make a major commitment to NASCAR, and we’ve seen first-hand just how passionate NASCAR fans can be.
Nationwide recognizes that NASCAR has the most loyal and dedicated fan base of any sport. This is an opportunity to play a larger role in supporting NASCAR, while building stronger relationships with these great fans, as well as the drivers competing on the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The sponsorship will allow us to reach millions of fans including families, youth and diverse markets in a fun and friendly manner.
Q. What changes are in store for NASCAR Nationwide Series fans in 2008?
Brian France: It’s likely that the NASCAR Nationwide Series will grow in a number of very positive ways as a result of Nationwide’s involvement. We are looking at a number of options, including a new chassis, which will transfer a number of the positive safety, competition and cost management attributes from the Nextel Cup Series car to the NASCAR Nationwide Series car.
We’re also evaluating a number of options to continue to make the series more exciting for fans and competitors, and help increase competition among all teams.
Look for more details in coming months including the introduction of the NASCAR Nationwide Series logo.
Q. Brian, what about doing more to make the NASCAR Nationwide Series a place to develop drivers?
Brian France: The Series has been developing and will continue to develop up-and-coming drivers. Just take a look at Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex, Jr., and Clint Bowyer. In the last three years, each of these drivers, all currently in the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, honed and developed their driving skills in what will be known as the NASCAR Nationwide Series. So it’s clearly serving that purpose while keeping the tradition of providing young drivers the opportunity to compete against the NASCAR Nextel Cup drivers.
Q. What will Nationwide Insurance bring to its sponsorship of the NASCAR Nationwide Series?
Jim Lyski: Nationwide looks forward to partnering with NASCAR and ESPN to take this already great racing experience to the next level. We’re committed to bringing the NASCAR Nationwide Series experience to life for the fans. The NASCAR Nationwide Series provides a unique environment for Nationwide to extend our On Your Side brand promise to race fans. At the end of they day, we want fans to feel like Nationwide somehow improved their race experience. We’ll be able to provide more details about how we’re going to do that soon.
We’re also excited to engage our network of over 8,000 Nationwide and Allied Insurance agents to promote and market the NASCAR Nationwide Series and get involved in races across the country.
We’ll take very much the same approach we’ve taken with our sponsorship of the Nationwide Tour. Since becoming umbrella sponsor of the Nationwide Tour in 2003, which, like the NASCAR Nationwide Series, is a proving ground for the next generation of superstars who will one day compete at the highest level, we’ve put significant resources into elevating the tour’s profile in the golf world. Since we’ve been involved, the Nationwide Tour is sending more players than ever to the PGA Tour. Purses have increased, as has media coverage of the sport. We’ve got a great road map for local activation based on our experience with the Nationwide Tour