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How Much Does It Cost To Sponsor A NASCAR Car Or Driver?

Sponsorships can make a NASCAR team, while lack of them can break a team. They are the lifeblood of success in the sport, as is the case in most motorsports. Knowing this, you may wonder how much it costs to sponsor a NASCAR car. 

It costs an average of $400,000 per race to sponsor a successful NASCAR car or driver as a primary sponsor. Associate sponsors hover between $15,000 and $40,000. Primary sponsors will pay an average of $15 million per year, and those sponsoring larger teams could pay more. 

Below, we will dive into detail on how NASCAR sponsorships work. We will also reveal how much it costs to sponsor a NASCAR car and driver, and we’ll discuss which part of a NASCAR car is the most expensive to sponsor. 

How NASCAR Sponsorships Work

Sponsorships in NASCAR generally work through a company paying a NASCAR team a sum of money to fund the high costs that come with owning a team, and they have control over the paint scheme on the cars. Past sponsorships like Lowes, UPS, and DuPont used their company colors to create some of NASCAR’s most iconic cars

You may have also noticed, however, that cars may have more than one sponsor. They have a primary sponsor on the hood, the trunk, the rear, the doors, and the rear quarter panel. When you look toward the rear quarter panel and to the right and left of the rear tire, you may see a few more sponsors, often between five and six of them. They too provide funding for the car. 

These sponsors will at times serve as the primary for a race or two. Suppose UPS returned to NASCAR to sponsor a driver as the primary, while Lowes and DuPont were associate sponsors. The team may opt for UPS for 30 races as the primary, Lowes for three races, and UPS for another three. Together, they would help fund the entire $10+ million operation.  

How Much Does It Cost To Sponsor A NASCAR Car?

It can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $400,000 per race to sponsor a NASCAR car. The primary sponsor will cover the bulk of the costs while the secondary and associate sponsors will provide less funding. Primary sponsors have a large range, often between $5 million and $35 million per year. 

As you may guess, the more established teams get larger sponsorships. Teams like Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing, among others, get the biggest sponsors. This is because these teams have a proven track record of winning races, good public relations, and better cars. Sponsors know teams like Hendrick and Gibbs will give them more exposure and thus a better return on investment (ROI). 

Per race, it can cost primary sponsors $400,000, but that cost can increase if they are sponsoring an established driver for a top-tier race team. At the higher end of the scale, they can spend as much as $900,000 per race. 

As for associate sponsors, the cost can range between $15,000 and $40,000 per race if they are sponsoring a prestigious ride. This equals something in the neighborhood of $570,000 and $1.5 million per season

What Part Of A NASCAR Car Is Most Expensive To Sponsor?

The most expensive parts of a NASCAR car to sponsor are places like the hood, the trunk, and the doors. These are where the primary sponsor will place their logos, and they may pay upwards of $400,000 per race to the big teams. Other parts of the car may still cost 6 figures to sponsor.

KEY POINTS

• NASCAR sponsorships can be close to $1 million per race for the biggest teams

• The cost depends on whether the brand is a primary sponsor or not

• Total yearly costs can end up at more than $30 million for the biggest sponsors

How Much Does It Cost To Sponsor A NASCAR Driver?

It can cost anywhere from 4 figures to low 6 figures per race to sponsor a NASCAR driver. The biggest sponsors may spend millions of dollars per year sponsoring drivers, but this is often factored into their overall cost of sponsoring the team, not just the driver.

Like sponsoring a car, the actual costs will vary depending on the driver. Your larger, more lucrative sponsors will always dish out more money for a driver who races for a more established team because these sponsors are betting on that driver reaping the benefits of the better, more experienced personnel. 

A newer driver who is driving for a race team that has not reached the same level of prestige as the likes of Joe Gibbs, Hendrick Motorsports, and Stewart-Haas is not going to attract anywhere near as lucrative of a sponsor

For less-proven drivers and teams, a sponsorship may only sign on for a few races, which could take them below the $5 million mark at the lower end. They may sign on for a 10-race deal and give the driver $150,000 per race, which equals $1.5 million for the 10-race stint. 

RELATED ARTICLE Is NASCAR A Team Sport?

Biggest NASCAR Sponsorships

SponsorTeamCarDriver
Mars Inc., Toyota, PedigreeJoe Gibbs#18Kyle Busch
FedEx, SportClipsJoe Gibbs#11Denny Hamlin
GearWrench, Rheem, Busch Light, Mobil 1, Hunt Brothers Pizza, SubwayStewart-Haas#4Kevin Harvick
Bass Pro Shops, Reser’s Finance FoodsJoe Gibbs#19Martin Truex Jr. 
Kohler Generators, Fastenal, Violet Defense, Castrol, Wyndham Rewards, Solomon PlumbingRFK Racing#6Brad Keselowski

NASCAR Cup vs Xfinity vs Truck Series Sponsorship Cost

Companies who fork out money for NASCAR Cup Series teams will deal with the highest sponsorship cost, while the lower-tier Xfinity and Truck Series cost significantly less to sponsor

Estimated Sponsorship Costs

To sponsor a Truck Series team for one season, brands typically need at least $3 million at the low end, but perhaps up to $5 million or more. Taking an average of $4 million and dividing it by 23 races, we can estimate that it would cost about $175,000 per race for a primary sponsor

The average cost for primary sponsorships at the Truck Series level is less than half that of the Cup Series

The average cost of running an Xfinity team is about $7.5 million per year, meaning a primary sponsor, to cover the bulk of the ride, could pay up to $230,000 per race, or just a little over half of what it costs to fund the average Cup Series team. At the high end, a primary sponsor could be looking at $300,000 per race. 

Sponsors Often Don’t Pay That Much

As you can see, the numbers above for such primary sponsors could be an outrageous gamble on unproven and lesser-established drivers at the Xfinity and Truck Series levels. Therefore, the primary sponsors often pay the large sum for a select number of races before they serve as an associate for a select number while another sponsor forks the cost as the primary. 

Given the significantly lower costs of running an Xfinity or a Truck Series team compared to those in the Cup Series, it is a safe bet to assume the associates are often paying anywhere between $5,000 and $20,000 per race to cover any remaining costs

Why Do NASCAR Teams Need Sponsors?

NASCAR teams need sponsors to be able to go racing every weekend. Sponsors help pay for the cars and any repairs, but they also help fund the pit crew, spotter, mechanics, specialists, travel costs for both the team and hauler, the race shop, and many other often forgotten about running costs. 

NASCAR teams need sponsors – and a lot of them. All race cars need sponsors. The more lucrative the sponsors are, the better the talent a team can hire. Teams with the largest sponsors are more likely to finish higher and win more races, while teams without such funding can only afford lesser talent. 

In the old days, securing sponsorship was even more important because NASCAR’s specs weren’t as stringent. Teams often built their car components in their respective garages, meaning better-funded teams could afford to build better equipment while lower-funded teams struggled. And it showed on the race track. 

These days, NASCAR teams buy most components from a single vendor. The chassis, for example, comes from just one company. The same thing goes for the brakes, windows, and wheels. This guarantees a more level playing field, but teams with larger sponsors will always win in the talent game

Final Thoughts

Annual sponsorship costs at the NASCAR Cup Series level range between $5 million and $35 million. The average cost per race hovers at around $400,000 for primary sponsors, which equals an average of $15.2 million per season. The Truck Series and Xfinity Series also require expensive sponsorship.