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A Word About Sponsorship

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There's no secret that we love the DIY, screw-'em- between-the-buns action of old racing. And we also understand that bucks-up automotive competition, even at the lower echelons, has a serious cost-of-entry barrier. But this crap is just getting ridiculous. We were perusing Autoextremist's "The Line" section this morning, and despite the fact that he rails against the corporate nature of NASCAR, he still falls into the trap. While quoting Marco Andretti on his victory at Sears Point saying, "I've got to give it to the team, though. My NYSE boys did an awesome job all weekend, all year long," falls into the realm of credibility — the following does not.

"Jim Daniels, of Germantown, Tennessee, won his fourth consecutive SCCA Pro Racing SIRIUS Satellite Radio Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by Hankook race at Miller Motorsports Park last weekend, while clinching the Drivers' Championship in the process."


Couldn't he have just called it the "SCCA MX-5 Cup" and left it at that? Isn't that all we really need to know? Unless it's some meta device devised by Sweet Peet to illustrate how ridiculous the sponsorship game's become. Or he's receiving kickbacks. We understand using sponsor identifiers now and then, as in "The Pennzoil Chaparral," "The Gulf GT40" or "The Budweiser Rocket" as shorthand when cars are especially notable for their color schemes. But the onus is on the teams and the sponsors to create that buzz, not writers.

When the Lexus Safety Cars and Camry Hybrids attempted to lap Laguna Seca between rounds at the Monterey Historics, they looked absolutely laughable. They understeered like hell, their tires squealed, and after the race cars we'd just been watching, made Toyota look rather foolish, like a bunch of backyard hoons in their parents' cars who'd just exited a screening of The Fast and the Furious. Sure, they scored an overall track record with a backup F1 car, but we were left with the opinion that Toyotas are subpar vehicles when pushed. Which, frankly, in our experience, they generally are. We don't know exactly what our beef is with marquee sponsorship, other than we remember when races just had names. And tracks and stadiums had names. Candlestick Park, Laguna Seca, the Oakland Coliseum, Sears Point, and so on. It gave sports more purity and personality. We may embrace brands, but the minute they're shoved down our throats, we reach for the Ipecac.


As print/web journos not beholden to ad pressure from management, we think this crap needs to stop. If enough journalists stop bandying about these long-winded phrases, the advertisers will realize it's a dead-end street, and we may all be able to inject some real personality back into racing — and sports in general — that isn't of the "I have a signature shoe, got some bad tats and made a hip-hop album" variety.

Fumes [Autoextremist]

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Mike Austin