âI canât even get enough sponsorship for my NASCAR cars,â Stewart said earlier this week as he hosted his 12th annual âSmoke Showâ at Texas Motor Speedway.
âYou think about that, once you start going over there, then Iâve got to sell more sponsorships. Itâs hard enough to get sponsorship for the NASCAR side right now.â
SHR extended its deal with Smithfield Foods as the primary sponsor for the No. 10 car for the 2020 season this week. But itâs still difficult to land long-term deals with sponsors.
Doing it in two different racing series? Stewart says no thanks.
Stewart painted a picture of the difficulty of it all. If SHR had Coca-Cola as a sponsor for one of its NASCAR teams, for example, it would eliminate Pepsi or any other soft drink company on the IndyCar side.
âYou start locking out categories,â Stewart said.
Not to mention the number of big-time corporations that have bolted the motorsports business in recent years.
Home Depot stopped sponsoring a NASCAR car following the 2014 season. Dollar General called it quits after 2016. Target bailed after 2017. Loweâs after 2018. Even lesser-known companies didnât last long.
SHR had a failed marriage with Natureâs Bakery in 2016 when Danica Patrick drove one of its cars. Natureâs Bakery paid $15 million to sponsor Patrick in 2016, and had a contract for additional years.
But Natureâs Bakery backed out of the contract and the two sides eventually settled a lawsuit.
TMS president Eddie Gossage knows the difficulty of securing sponsors in the motorsports industry. Heâs negotiated with a number of companies to become TMSâ title sponsors for races, sold billboard space and more.
âYou never have enough sponsors,â Gossage said, smiling. âThe only thing consistent about NASCAR is that itâs always hard to get sponsors.
âIn its biggest days, I can tell you teams that didnât get sponsors. In its worst days, thereâs teams that didnât get sponsors. Itâs not easy getting sponsorships.â
To Gossage, team owners such as Stewart and others may simply have to adjust the way business is being done if the sponsorships are becoming more difficult to land.
Gossage recalled a conversation he had with a successful team owner. The owner employed 43 engineers at the time.
âIâm sure they feel like itâs necessary, but is it really?â Gossage said. âI shake my head.â
Asked if that team owner won races, Gossage said: âYeah, but not every week.â
After a pause and a smirk, Gossage added: âOther teams have 44 engineers. Thatâs the constant battle.
âIn NASCAR, Tony and his team owner brethren spend more money than theyâve got. They donât have to spend that much money, but they do.â
Gossage compared the NASCAR spending to that of NHL owners leading up to the 2004-05 lockout. At the time of the lockout, NHL owners spent approximately 76% of their gross revenues on playersâ salaries.
âYou donât spend more than youâve got,â Gossage said. âIn sports, these wise owners tend to spend more than they have to spend.
âThat guy spends $2 more than you spent, then youâve got to spend $3 more than he spends to be ahead of him and then he spends $4 âŠ itâs a never-ending kind of thing. I personally would love to see a salary cap, or some such thing applied to budgets for teams, since they canât seem to control themselves. Thatâll be healthy for the sport.â
Especially if fewer sponsors are lining up and writing checks.