Camping World will replace Craftsman as the title sponsor for NASCAR’s truck series in 2009.
The seven-year deal, thought to be worth between $5 million and $7 million annually, was announced Thursday by NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France and Camping World chairman and CEO Marcus Lemonis.
Camping World sells, rents and services recreational vehicles, as well as trailers and camping accessories. It has been active in NASCAR for several years and is in its first year as the title sponsor for NASCAR’s developmental East and West series. The company also has been the title sponsor for several Sprint Cup races and has sponsorship deals with Kevin Harvick Inc. in trucks and NASCAR’s Nationwide Series.
Lemonis said the company’s sponsorships of the East and West series and KHI’s No. 33 truck, driven by Ron Hornaday Jr., will continue through 2009.
The new sponsor is stepping into a series that is very competitive but facing a considerable challenge with both Dodge and Ford announcing within the past two months that their financial support of truck teams would end this season.
“First of all, the series is very healthy,” France said.
Still, he noted that the manufacturers involved in NASCAR have been particularly hard hit in the area of truck sales.
“We’re obviously affected by that, it’s a legitimate issue,” France said. “We try to do it anyway. But we’ll accelerate the idea of taking even more costs out of the series for the team owners should certain subsidies or certain sponsorships be contracted a bit.
“We’ll try to make things as easy on the team owners as possible to sort of get through this headwind of both the economy and the manufacturers going through their related challenges.”
The current international economic crisis may also have broader effects on NASCAR.
“We’re nervous like everybody else,” France said. “We’re taking every precaution we can in terms of getting costs out of our system, on behalf of the team owners, on behalf of the track operators. But this is also a time when you can’t freeze either. You have to still be aggressive and still push hard on your product, and I know Marcus is doing that in his business and we’re doing the same.”
Craftsman, a division of Sears, Roebuck and Co., has been the only title sponsor of the series that began in 1995. It announced last fall that 2008 would be its last season as the truck series sponsor.
Lemonis said he spent nine months researching and talking with people before making this latest, and biggest, commitment to NASCAR. He said NASCAR and affiliated programs will now make up 6 percent of Camping World’s total marketing scheme.
“It wasn’t a matter of a last-minute decision,” he said. “It was something that was fairly plotted out. We wanted NASCAR to make a decision that best suited them, which is why in the last 30 days there were a number of candidates they were considering. We were glad that we were given the option and the choice.”
Lemonis said he was particularly impressed by the potential for business he saw while visiting the tracks.
“When I looked at the crossover, walking the campgrounds at some of the tracks, looked at the crossover of the number of travel trailers compared to the number of motorhomes, then I looked at the amount of hitching and towing that could go along with the number of trucks that were parked in the parking lot, it just seemed to be a natural fit,” he said.
Financial details of the agreement were not announced.