Wal-Mart In Negotiations With NASCAR


(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)

Retail giant, Wal-Mart is in in deep discussions with NASCAR teams and NASCAR officials about a wide ranging deal that has both sponsorship, licensing implications, and could see Wal-mart sponsoring a Hendrick Motorsports team or one of the other powerhouse teams.

Senior level Wal-Mart executives were the guests of NASCAR at the May 22nd Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte.  One week later they were back touring race shops and meeting with team executives as the mass ratailer explores NASCAR possibilities.

Although there are several scenarios, industry sources say that Wal-Mart is discussing the potential of a direct license that would make Wal-Mart NASCAR’s exclusive retailer in the mass market.  A direct license would give Wal-Mart the ability to select its suppliers and set prices for certain categories, such as hats and T-shirts.

Wal-Mart is believed to be exploring sponsorship opportunities with Hendrick Motorsports as well. Hendrick’s drivers – Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin – account for close to 75 percent of all licensed sales in the sport, industry analysts say, making it a logical team for Wal-Mart to sponsor. Hendrick has also signed popular driver Kasey Kahne, who will take over Martin’s No. 5 car in 2012.

Wal-Mart is thought to be considering a sponsorship arrangement with a team or multiple teams, with Hendrick Motorsports in the middle of those discussions. It’s unclear, though, if the mass retailer will settle on one car for a chunk of the season, sponsor multiple cars for a few races each, or perhaps put together several driver deals into a marketing platform, a la the Gillette Young Guns or the Coca-Cola family of drivers.

One scenario, according to sources, has Wal-Mart sponsoring Gordon’s # 24 Chevrolet for half of the season or more, as primary sponsor DuPont looks to scale back its spending. DuPont’s current primary sponsorship on the No. 24 car ends this season, and while the longtime sponsor is expected to remain in some form, it’s uncertain whether DuPont will remain the primary.

Other industry insiders say it’s unlikely that Wal-Mart would sponsor a single driver because the retailer will potentially have licensing arrangements across a variety of drivers.

What do you think about Wal-Mart making an entrance into NASCAR?


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