In what was undoubtedly a surprise to VP Race Fuels, the current Official Fuel Supplier of the NHRA, the Glendora-based sanctioning body, announced a ten-year deal for Sunoco to become an official sponsor of NHRA in 2015, it was announced today.
The sponsorship deal, rumored at nearly $1 mil for the next ten-years, should also help to extend the NHRA brand to potential ticket buyers and TV viewers through in-store promotions at the estimated 6,000 Sunoco retail locations all over the US.
Through the agreement, Sunoco will also have a significant presence on the NHRA Manufacturer’s Midway to extend their full range of products to NHRA racers and fans.
Since nitromethane is no longer produced in the United States, it looks as though the current plants in China will continue to be considered a source for Sunoco. When asked on a conference call if the exclusive supplier status would trickle down to sportsman racers in the Hot Rod Heritage Series, Graham Light, NHRA senior vice president of racing operations said, “The Heritage (Series) thing, is certainly a possibility down the road, but I think it is premature to make that assumption at this point.”
Initially, this relationship is likely to effect less than a couple of hundred racers on a national level, but if properly activated, could help to spread awareness of the NHRA Series to a much broader potential fan and ESPN viewer base, similar to the model used so effectively by NASCAR and INDYCAR.
Below is the release sent out to the media this morning, please join us in welcoming Sunoco to NHRA drag racing.
SUNOCO TO BECOME OFFICIAL SPONSOR OF NHRA
GLENDORA, Calif. (May 5, 2014) – Sunoco, one of America’s most recognizable fuel companies with a long heritage in motorsports, will become an official sponsor of NHRA in 2015, it was announced today.
Activation of the sponsorship will include a comprehensive package of television spots, digital presence, on-site visibility and NHRA-themed consumer and retail promotions designed to increase attendance and television viewership.
The 10-year agreement calls for Sunoco to become the official racing fuel of NHRA, and will be the exclusive on-site gasoline and nitromethane supplier at all NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series national events. Sunoco gasoline will be the spec racing gasoline in the Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle categories at national events and Competition Eliminator categories at both national and NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series events.
“The fuel supplier is one of the most integral partnerships that a racing sanctioning body can have,” said Tom Compton, NHRA president. “We’ve had great partners in the past, however, Sunoco not only will provide our racers quality products but our companies will be great marketing partners to increase awareness of NHRA drag racing and the Sunoco brand.”
According to Graham Light, NHRA senior vice president of racing operations, “Sunoco will fulfill our ongoing commitment to provide a ‘spec’ fuel that keeps the playing field level. Fuel shouldn’t be a competition variable. Sunoco also will have on-site service and technical support at national events and testing sessions.”
“Motorsports and the manufacturing of performance fuels are in Sunoco’s DNA,” said Bob Owens, president and CEO of Sunoco, Inc. “Our partnership with the NHRA represents our dedication to performance at the highest levels of racing and will carry over to the fuels that consumers put in their street vehicles.”
“Partnering with the NHRA is another step forward in our goal to bring Sunoco performance fuels to every level of racing, from grassroots drivers and riders to drivers competing in all premiere professional series,” said Rob Marro, Sunoco’s general manager for performance products and automotive events. “Our commitment to our partners within the sport, along with our promise to produce and manufacture only the highest quality product, has allowed us to fuel hundreds of sanctioning bodies, local tracks and engine builders for the past five decades.”
Headquartered in Philadelphia, Pa., Sunoco, Inc. markets its brand of gasoline through more than 5,000 retail outlets in 25 states, from Maine to Florida and west to Michigan and Louisiana, including more than 600 APlus convenience stores. Sunoco is the official fuel of NASCAR and more than 50 other racing sanctions. For more information on Sunoco Retail, or to find a local Sunoco location, visit http://www.gosunoco.com
Late Monday evening, VP Race Fuels sent out this press release.
VP PRESIDENT ALAN CERWICK RESPONDS TO TODAY’S NHRA ANNOUNCEMENT
SAN ANTONIO, TX (May 5, 2014) Today, NHRA announced an agreement whereby Sunoco has been named the official fuel of NHRA beginning in 2015. As NHRA’s official fuel through the end of the 2014 season, we will continue to service the remaining NHRA races in the same professional and efficient way we always have.
We are exceedingly proud of our contribution to the quality of NHRA’s on-track product over the last 15 years. Given our support of drag racing throughout our 39-year history, we don’t intend to stop now. In anticipation of NHRA’s decision, we have developed a multi-tiered strategy to increase our involvement in other areas of drag racing and continue our efforts to help grow the sport.
While we are disappointed that our relationship with NHRA will not continue, we want to assure all our customers and the industry at large that this will not affect VP financially nor will it hinder our ability to compete aggressively with industry-leading fuels and other products. VP is a strong company, much different and more diverse than the company that first signed on as the official fuel of NHRA in 2000.
VP is enjoying a strong year in 2014 with increasing sales and domination in many forms of racing all over the world. In addition to fueling the popular Tudor United SportsCar Championship and other IMSA-sanctioned series this year, we just signed on as Official Fuel Supplier to Watkins Glen International in New York, the Isle of Man TT in the UK and extended our relationships with New England Dragway, Maple Grove Raceway, Atco Raceway, DIRTCar and the World of Outlaws. Besides race fuel, our consumer products and VP-branded gas stations are also experiencing robust growth — growth that not only will continue but accelerate in 2015 and beyond.
We wish NHRA good luck and sincerely hope they’ll have success with their racing events in the future. In the meantime we intend to continue executing our strategy for growth, the best of which is yet to come.