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NASCAR is looking to target a younger, hipper crowd—one that’s into this Facebook thing.
And to do so they’re introducing a Facebook game, one that promises to be less annoying than Farmville, hopefully. Piggybacking off the successful Car Town, they’ve launched the slightly more cumbersome-sounding “NASCAR Pro Championship presented by Sprint” that will be featured on a joint partnership with Car Town’s developer, Cie Games.
Two different companies will be promoting the game with all of their marketing might. Turner Sports, which holds the rights to NASCAR.com, will air commercials on Turner Network Television. Sprint will promote it via their digital network and cell phones. Both promotions will coincide with the running of the Sprint Cup until November.
Car Town isn’t actually about racing, not if you can call pressing a few buttons to be a reasonable facsimile. It’s more aimed at completing some challenges, modifying your car, earning and spending points, and most importantly: bombarding your friends endlessly with requests. For that, NASCAR’s Facebook adventure seems like a win-win.
Earlier this month a debate raged on whether the American armed forces should sponsor NASCAR teams, one that had the potential to get ugly. But the House voted 241-148 to ditch the proposal, allowing the Army, Air Force, and National Guard to keep on racin’.
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduced the proposal, as an amendment to the House’s 2011 spending bill, by questioning why $7 million was being spent “for a sticker on a NASCAR,” in the words of her chief of staff. She argued that the Army’s NASCAR team did nothing for military readiness, but Army spokesperson Col. Derik Crotts claims that the Army picked up 46,000 potential recruits through its sponsorship efforts in 2010.
The Army has maintained a presence in NASCAR since 2000, through direction from Congress itself. NASCAR, of course, is one of the most popular spectator sports in America, and if the Army wants to attract more people, then—stereotypes aside—there aren’t many better places than stock car racing.
[Sources: Wall Street Journal]
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) has been campaigning for the removal of the U.S. Army’s sponsorship of a NASCAR entrant in the Sprint Cup Series, a project that costs the Pentagon about $7 million dollars per year.
While McCollum has fielded irate calls from those who are angry about her proposal, the threat, delivered via fax, was the first of its kind.
For years, the Army has sponsored a NASCAR team as a means of getting the message out about the armed forces, and the career prospects it has to offer. At first glance, it seems like a perfect fit – with NASCAR’s supporters leaning heavily Republican, and supportive of the kind of values that often draws people to the armed forces.
Bill Harper, McCollum’s chief of staff, noted the irony of NASCAR fans, who he assumes to be Republican, and their complaints, when Republican supporters are calling for budget cuts to preserve America’s financial integrity. “We’ve heard innumerable times that the Republicans were elected to send a message from the people that we should stop spending money,” said Harper. “And yet the people who sent that message want us to spend $7 million for a sticker on a NASCAR.”
[Source: Talking Points Memo]
Once a upon a time, NASCAR racers really were stock. Not any more. But although the ‘Car of Tomorrow’ may share little commonality with its street going counterparts, the Dodge boys are making an effort.
Besides the commonality of rear-drive (the only one we might add out of the current generation of family sleds represented in NASCAR), Dodge Motorsports Engineering, in conjunction with Penske Racing has gone to great lengths to give their latest Sprint Cup racer a nose that’s virtually a dead ringer for the revised, 2011 street going Charger.
“We worked closely with [Penske] to develop Dodge brand identity while maintaining aerodynamics within the NASCAR rules,” said David Bailey, Senior Manager for Dodge Motorsports Engineering. “Coupled with NASCAR’s new common lower nose for 2011, the revised front end carries the image and character of the Charger forward in true Dodge performance fashion.” But as similar as the front ends on street car and racer look, you still can’t turn on headlights where the latter is concerned, because, as on all NASCAR racers, they’re decorative only.
After a successful test session last week, there’s a strong possibility that two-time DTM Champ Mattias Ekström will race at the NASCAR Sprint Cup race on June 20th at Sonoma, California. And he’ll be driving a Toyota no less.
Ekström races for the Red Bull Audi team in Germany’s premiere DTM series, but recently filled in for the Red Bull Toyota NASCAR team when it was announced that No. 83 driver Brian Vickers would miss the rest of the season due to a medical issue.
During the test, Ekstrom impressed the Red Bull Racing USA team, getting up to speed in just an hour – despite the significantly heavier Sprint Cup car, which features a significant lack of aerodynamics.
The Sonoma race is one of the few road-course events on the NASCAR schedule – which would certainly favor a road-course driver like Ekstrom. In addition, we have to think that the tie-up between Audi and Infineon Raceway (the Sonoma road course) would play into the decision to let Ekstrom drive.
Ekström holds two DTM championships (2004 and 2007) with 14 wins in 95 starts. He has even won the Race of Champions twice, both times taking down Michael Schumacher.
Here’s a story that is certainly going to get the rumors of Volkswagen‘s involvement in NASCAR started. Last week two-time DTM Champion Mattias Ekström was at Virginia International Raceway helping test a Red Bull Racing Toyota for the upcoming NASCAR race at Sonoma.
The reason for the odd match isn’t about NASCAR ambitions says Audi, but rather a driver’s dream and a sponsors request. That’s right, Red Bull Racing is the main sponsor for the No. 82 and No. 83 Toyotas in NASCAR, as well as the main sponsor for Ekstrom’s Audi DTM car. No. 83 driver Brian Vickers was ill and the car still needed to be tested, and according to Audi, Red Bull Racing USA remembered Ekstrom’s interest in NASCAR and made the request to Audi Sport.
“It’s no secret that the NASCAR series fascinates me and that it’s been a long-harbored dream of mine to drive such a car,” said Mattias Ekström, commenting after the test that, “The first hour of the test I was fighting the car a lot just getting used to the power, the weight and the fact that the car has little aero — all things that are very different for me. A few hours into the test I felt a lot more comfortable in the car and overall I think we had a really good test. I came into this test not having any experience in these types of cars, and also having never worked with the No. 83 team before, so it was really nice to see how well we all worked together. I really enjoyed my first Sprint Cup test and am glad to have had this opportunity.”
Er…. did he just say “first” test? We think so. Gentlemen, start your rumors.
[Source: Audi and RedBullRacingUSA.com]
Official release after the jump:
As promised, Ford Racing will bring the Mustang to NASCAR, starting next year in the Nationwide Series.
Looking rather un-Mustang-like, with the exception of a decal strip across the front that bears some resemblance to the narrow grille and headlight assembly on the 2010 Mustang, Ford says the cars will be part of a limited “muscle car” rollout – which will also include the Dodge Challenger.
“We’re excited about being able to race Mustang in front of our loyal NASCAR fan base and know it’s going to win races and championships just like it has in every other series it has competed,” said Brian Wolfe, director of Ford North America Motorsports. “The Mustang created the pony car movement when it debuted in 1964. Now, the NASCAR Mustang has the opportunity to create a whole new look to stock car racing at its highest levels.”
When the story was first reported that both Ford and Doge would bring their pony cars to NASCAR, it was expected that the vehicles would move into the top-level Sprint Cup series, helping boost interest after the series has posted a considerable decline in attendance and TV viewership in the past year. That no longer appears to be the case. Instead, the cars will debut in the Nationwide Series in an effort to help distinguish that series from Sprint Cup.
“We had been talking with NASCAR for some time about Mustang as part of its vision for a ‘muscle car’ rollout for the Nationwide Series. We both saw it as a way of differentiating the series from Sprint Cup,” said Wolfe. “We loved the idea, so we jumped on the chance to extend Mustang’s racing legacy to a new series reaching a huge and loyal audience. Mustang has dominated other forms of racing, including NHRA drag racing, Grand-Am Cup road racing, and Formula D drifting, and now it’s coming to NASCAR Nationwide.”
Surprisingly, while the Ford Mustang is touted as the “most successful single nameplate brand in professional racing history,” it has never competed in NASCAR.
“I think race fans – and Mustang loyalists – will be very pleased when we publicly roll out the first car later this fall,” said Wolfe.
Official release after the jump: