MARCH 11, 2009
A sign of the times
For all of those who think that Formula 1 may be immune to the recession, it is worth noting that in the United States, Roush Fenway Racing, which has won two of the four NASCAR Sprint Cup races so far this year, is reporting that its sponsors are already asking for help for next season - despite the fact that there are solid contracts in place with most of them.
Roush currently runs five cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup with Matt Kenseth (with backing from power tool company DeWalt), David Ragan (the courier firm UPS), Carl Edwards (insurance company Aflac), Greg Biffle (diversified technology company 3M) and Jamie McMurray (Crown Royal whisky). Of these, only DeWalt is up for renewal at the end of the current season. The team says that Crown Royal, 3M and Aflac have all asked the team to look for other sponsors willing to split the races with them, in order to reduce costs next year. DeWalt is also saying that it would like to share its car with another backer.
Only UPS is content to keep the whole car for the whole season.
The concept of alternating sponsorships is now common in NASCAR circles.
NASCAR has already said that Roush must reduce his team to four cars next year, but this will make little difference as Roush has a close alliance with Yates Racing and this is looking to expand from the current two teams to three in 2010. Roush is already out looking for money for the Yates cars, which currently have Paul Menard (Menards/Quaker State) and Travis Kvapil, the last-named having no regular sponsor at the moment.
Although F1 likes to have its cars running in the same liveries at each race, the idea of alternating sponsorships might be worth considering if the financial crisis continues in the mid-term.