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Sponsorship Summit gives an inside look

Published: Monday, April 28, 2014 11:23 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, April 28, 2014 11:59 a.m. CDT
(Bob Eschliman/Daily News)
Iowa Speedway President Jimmy Small talks with Sam Hornish Jr. before the start of the Iowa Speedway Sponsor Summit held Thursday at MB2 Raceway. Dozens of sponsors participated, getting an inside look at the auto racing industry.

The Iowa Speedway Sponsor Summit was an inside look at the business of NASCAR with many top executives of NASCAR talking about the future of the sport from a business perspective. The summit offered sponsors of Iowa Speedway an opportunity to learn about the future of their investments into Iowa Speedway and now NASCAR.

“I thought the Sponsor Summit went very well,” NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O’Donnell said. “We have a new staff that is enthusiastic to work with sponsorship partners to collaborate on some new ideas, so all in all it was a very good day. There’s still a lot of work still ahead with the speedway and the sponsors, but we’re excited about it.”

Iowa Speedway, since its inception, has always had a local ownership that worked closely with the people of NASCAR, but NASCAR plans to keep things local with all the staff from Iowa Speedway moving to Iowa.

“The folks of NASCAR are very familiar with the Iowa Speedway and Newton,” O’Donnell said. “We’re looking forward to continuing and building the relationships with Newton. Jimmy loves living here. We’re a part of the community and working hand in hand.”

The MB2 Raceway in Grimes played into the theme of the summit. The sponsors were introduced to the business NASCAR through the eyes of driver Sam Hornish Jr. who was on hand to present at the summit.

“The dreams of many racers began in businesses like this,” NASCAR Sam Hornish Jr. said.

Hornish talked about how his sponsorship deal with a cordless telephone company lead him to realize the importance of sponsorship within the sport of auto racing.

“I didn’t know how to sell cordless telephones, but after completely selling all 2,500 cordless phones, I was able to continue to do what I love,” Hornish said. “Looking back on it now makes me appreciate of the sponsorships that I have now.”

Hornish is sponsored by Monster Energy Drink. Throughout the summit, Hornish had his favorite Monster Energy Drink, the low-carb blue.

The idea of having a sponsorship summit is unique for a track, but coming from a driver’s perspective, Hornish appreciated the fact that a track was getting involved so much with its sponsors.

“The summit was a true representation of what sponsorship in NASCAR and motor sports is about: to expect to just slap your logo on a car or track and expect it to help your business isn’t very smart,” Hornish said. “The active relationship between the sponsors and the track, car or company is what makes the investment of sponsorship worthwhile.”