Wheels Of ‘Fortune’: NASCAR Sees Fortune 500 Involvement Increase

(NASCAR Wire Service)

Seth Livingstone ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (left), sporting a Microsoft shirt while talking with former Major League Baseball player Barry Bonds before to the Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway Sunday (Photo: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (left), sporting a Microsoft shirt while talking with former Major League Baseball player Barry Bonds before to the Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway Sunday (Photo: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Technology, in the form of Fortune 500 investment, is reinforcing the notion that NASCAR makes good business sense.

For the third consecutive year, the number of Fortune 500 companies utilizing NASCAR as part of their marketing mix has increased. In fact, nearly half of America’s Fortune 100 companies invest with NASCAR to help drive their business and more than one in four Fortune 500 companies are on board.

The new analysis, conducted and released by NASCAR on Wednesday, indicated a 7 percent increase in Fortune 500 corporate involvement since the 2014 study.

The 130 Fortune 500 companies now involved in the sport reflect a 20 percent increase since 2008.

Now, investment is back in a big way, led by high tech involvement in the sport.

“Technology is incredibly important for us,” says Steve Phelps, NASCAR chief marketing officer. “It’s not only about helping us grow, financially, but how technology helps change people’s perception of NASCAR. Technology helps us on the race track with things like safety initiatives and brings fans closer to the sport they love in many ways.”

Phelps said the sport began to notice tech’s impact with Hewlett-Packard’s involvement three years ago. Now, NASCAR’s partnership with Microsoft has other tech companies taking note. Tech corporation involvement is up 66 percent since 2013.

“No question, this is great news for us,” Phelps says. “We want our fan base to become younger and more diverse. Technology brings those fans. It’s important for us to be there, working with these companies.”

Phelps sees Microsoft’s collaboration with NASCAR as a true win-win that other tech firms might seek to emulate.

“Microsoft, which signed deals with NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports, has used NASCAR as a validator of their technology,” Phelps said. “One existing piece is an app they developed that helps us with the inspection process prior to the race. We’re doing things in half the time we used to, using a mobile inspection app as opposed to collecting information manually. This helps with data collection and storage.”

Phelps is quick to point out that investment in NASCAR’s sanctioning body, its tracks and its teams extends far beyond the Fortune 500 list.

“NASCAR continues to be a great place for all companies to get their marketing message across,” Phelps said. “When you look at NASCAR’s recovery over the past three years, I think it speaks volumes about how NASCAR continues to do very well in attracting businesses of all sizes.

“It’s a way for business to reach the most loyal fans in all of sport who vote with their wallets. This continues to be the case in every research report we’ve done: NASCAR fans support brands that support their favorite sport. We think this is a major point of differentiation for us.”

Brand exposure in NASCAR is especially valuable given the loyalty of its fans. Repucom’s SponsorLink tracker shows seven out of 10 NASCAR fans are loyal to a brand when it sponsors their sport, higher than all other major sports properties.

NASCAR CEO Brent Dewar echoed Phelps’ assessment in analyzing the most recent study.

“We are gratified that NASCAR continues to be a place where best-in-class corporations choose our sport to drive brand awareness, preference and purchase behavior,” Dewar said. “Our fans are fiercely loyal to our sport and the Fortune 500 brands that are an integral part of the NASCAR eco-system. We collaborate with partners across the industry each and every day to grow the sport and help advance sponsors’ objectives.”

It hasn’t hurt that NASCAR has taken a proactive approach in attracting and discussing its business environment with its investors. An example is NASCAR’s Fuel for Business Council, which meets quarterly, and gets business leaders talking about opportunities in NASCAR, including branding and business-to-business opportunities. This month’s meeting in San Francisco featured presentations by Microsoft and by Fanatics, which is in the process of revolutionizing the sport’s at-track merchandising operations.

“It’s an opportunity for companies to talk to each other, and that’s really important,” Phelps said. “Microsoft’s presentation answered the question: ‘Why are we in NASCAR?’ In the end, we do business-to-business better than any sport on the planet – an important point of differentiation for investors.”

Phelps points out that investment extends far beyond the scope of Fortune 500 corporations and does not include dozens of companies advertising with NASCAR’s media partners or the hundreds of small- and mid-sized businesses with direct ties to the sport.

To be eligible for the Fortune 500, a company must be based in the U.S. and be publicly traded. Though many more Fortune 500 companies advertise on NASCAR-related television programming, only those that are partners or licensees with the sanctioning body, teams and / or tracks were counted in the analysis.

Although being a Fortune 500 company is the “gold standard” of success for publicly-traded companies in the U.S., several global corporations currently involved in NASCAR were not included in the analysis because they do not meet Fortune 500 criteria. Those include Ingersoll Rand, MillerCoors, Mars, McLaren and Toyota.


  1. And this is why the confederate flag must go away. These companies can bring big bucks to NASCAR and they aren’t going to be involved with NASCAR as long as the confederate flag remains the de facto flag of NASCAR.

  2. Chris D. says

    Too bad some of that $$$ doesn’t trickle down to the modified tour. The mod tour purses suck, the drivers on the tour have to pay to race, and all of the teams lose money even if they win. Some cup drivers are among the highest money earners in any sport, yet mod drivers put their lives on the line for peanuts. Thank-you NASCAR. The mod tour is the equivalent of Obama’s brother that lives in a hut. BTW, anyone notice…13 cars entered for this weekends southern mod tour race at Caraway.

  3. And over 50 cars entered in the TTOMS at Seekonk, with a big purse.

    See the correlation?

    NASCAR needs to get local corporate sponsorship to support the home tracks.

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