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The Daytona 500 by any other name? Unlikely
Posted by mynameiscarol
The Daytona 500 by any other name? Unlikely

Believe it or not, there was a time not too long ago when the Daytona 500 had a presenting sponsor. From 1991 to 1993, the race was known as the Daytona 500 by STP.
Sacrilege? Not exactly, the best Richard Petty can recall.
"There wasn't a real big deal because of the way they did it," said Petty, whose iconic No. 43 also was sponsored by STP. "It wasn't a sponsor's name on the 500, it came after the 500, so not as much was made of it.
"The reason they quit was that it just got too expensive for STP and I don't think Daytona wanted to keep changing it every year because of the way it might dilute the brand."
To this day, the Daytona 500 remains the only NASCAR race whose title is not for sale. In a sport where everything is believed to be for sale for the right price, officials at International Speedway Corp., owners of Daytona International Speedway, can't envision a day when a title sponsorship will be sold for the sport's most famous race.
"You never say never, but it'd have to be a very compelling reason to even entertain that idea," said Daryl Wolfe, ISC's chief marketing officer. "And it's hard to contemplate what that compelling reason would be. I don't think we'd do anything to erode all of the equity that's built up in the Daytona 500 brand."
As for what a title sponsorship to the Daytona 500 might go for, some industry experts guess about twice that of a typical title sponsorship, which normally sells for the low seven figures a year. But there's also the potential for pushback from companies that might be concerned over negative fan reaction.
"The Daytona 500 is large enough and prestigious enough that it stands on its own," said John Graham, ISC's vice president of business affairs and former Daytona track president. "The name of the race stands alone."
Although a title sponsorship to the Daytona 500 isn't for sale, ISC did sell the next best thing, a title sponsorship to Speedweeks, the name that stands for the stretch of races at Daytona leading up to and including the 500.
A year ago, ISC entered uncharted territory by selling title rights to Speedweeks for the first time to DirecTV, which bought the sponsorship for the high six figures per year as part of a three-year deal, industry insiders say. The new partnership proved to be perfect timing for DirecTV, which was launching its new HotPass service at Daytona.
The deal, negotiated by ISC's Tony Driscoll and Jon Flack from Just Marketing, DirecTV's agency, included logo rights, promotional rights, display space at the track, signage, tickets and hospitality, and the opportunity to demonstrate HotPass to fans at an on-site HotPass Zone.
"Speedweeks is an umbrella brand that is intrinsically tied to the Daytona 500 and other events and it's been around for a long time," Wolfe said.
"When you look at the events and the spike in fan interest at that time on the calendar, (the entitlement) was identified by the team here as an ownable asset that could be activated and leveraged. It was a unique opportunity for an overreaching position on several events."
The business side of Daytona has grown right along with the popularity of the 500:
1959: Lee Petty wins the inaugural Daytona 500 in a finish so close it takes three days to determine the champion. For those three days, though, the Daytona 500 dominates the news, and the race itself becomes the unwitting beneficiary of the controversial finish. Eleven of the 59 cars in the field have sponsorship, including businesses named Honest Charley, Shorty's, Idlewild Homes and Delta Auto Sales. Tickets to the inaugural event go for $5.
1966: Attendance jumps from 58,682 in 1965 to 90,000 in 1966. Attendance has never again fallen below 90,000. (Current track officials say expansion details are cloudy through the 1960s, so they could not provide specifics on expansion projects.)
1969: Attendance cracks the 100,000 mark as 101,800 pack the speedway for the 500.
1980: The Daytona 500 ups the ante by offering its first $1 million purse.
Late 1980s: The speedway builds the Winston Tower, five levels of upgraded seats and suites with a view clear to the Atlantic Ocean.
1991-93: For the first time, the track sells a presenting sponsorship for the Daytona 500. The event is known as the Daytona 500 by STP, part of a three-year sponsorship agreement.
1994: The number of grandstand seats grows to more than 100,000 in the first year of track president John Graham's administration. During Graham's tenure from 1994 to 2001, the speedway expands its seating to 167,800, where it remains today. From 1996 to 2000, during the heart of NASCAR's popularity growth, grandstand seating booms by 33.6 percent.
Mid-1990s: For 30 years, fans park right behind the grandstands at the speedway. That begins to change through the mid-1990s as Daytona creates more areas for corporate hospitality. Now the speedway offers multiple hospitality villages all around the track.
2001: The first $10 million Daytona 500 is held, pushing the event past the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis as the best-paying NASCAR Cup race, a title it still holds.
2001: Dale Earnhardt, the sport's greatest star, dies in a last-lap crash. Even years after his death, Earnhardt's merchandise remains among the best-selling licensed goods in the sport.
2007: The track sells title sponsorship to Speedweeks for the first time in its history. DirecTV, which also introduces its subscription-only HotPass package at the 500, buys the title rights as part of a three-year deal valued in the low seven figures annually.
2007: ISC and the Cordish Co. announce plans to build Daytona Live!, a $250 million mixed-use development on 71 acres across from the speedway. It will include condominiums, townhomes, 200,000 square feet of retail and dining, a 2,500-seat multiscreen theater and a 160-room hotel. NASCAR and ISC offices also will be housed in the development, which is expected to open in 2009.
2008: The 50th running of the Daytona 500.
Source: SportsBusiness Journal research
Michael Smith is a reporter with SportsBusiness Journal.

credit: scene daily
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