Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

It's Brought to You by . . . Sponsor Dollars Translate to Wins

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

It's Brought to You by . . . Sponsor Dollars Translate to Wins

Article excerpt

LAS VEGAS -- Bobby Hamilton didn't realize the horror of his mistake until he left the podium at the NASCAR Awards Banquet and got back to his table on the main floor of the Waldorf-Astoria.

By then, it was too late.

He had just finished reading off a litany of sponsors who had helped him finish ninth in the points standings in 1996 for Petty Enterprises, but the shopping list of those who supply both stickers and dollars for the race car was mistakenly missing one name -- Pontiac.

"Boy, did I hear about that," he said. "I had to apologize to Pontiac for that. They were pretty upset."

Since then, NASCAR and ESPN have provided a teleprompter that flashes a prepared list of sponsors to mention during each acceptance speech.

The stickers that decorate the sides, tops, bottom and interior of each race car represent a cash commitment to a particular race team. And because stickers represent money, the cars with the most stickers seem to be the ones that run up front.

At last week's race at Las Vegas, Jeff Burton's Ford Taurus carried the primary sponsorship of Exide Batteries. But he also has secondary funding from Coca-Cola, Hardee's, Parts Plus Auto Parts and Valvoline.

And don't forget the stickers required by NASCAR. The front fenders are littered with decals of companies that carry an "official" status with the sanctioning body. They contribute money to NASCAR and in return the sanctioning body keeps its cut and returns the rest at the NASCAR Banquet.

By the time Burton's car reached Victory Lane last week, there were as many as 40 companies -- each with its own sticker -- that had a stake in the win.

"The more money you have, the better chances you have to be successful," said Larry McClure, who owns the Kodak Films Chevrolet Monte Carlo -- Hamilton's current ride. "The more money you have, the more you can test and do research and development. …

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