Kentucky Speedway corporate partners and their guests gained insight into the world of motorsports sponsorship from Roush Racing driver Jeff Burton and Ford Racing Technology Global Marketing Manager Burt Diamond during a recent forum at the $152-million facility.

The speedway created the forum to illustrate the many ways motorsports sponsorship can benefit corporations in various industries.

Kentucky Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Mark F. Cassis also was among the featured speakers. He reviewed the facility's current audience, outlined upcoming speedway capital improvement projects and encouraged partners to think creatively to maximize the value of their motorsports investment.

"One thing I've learned from working with partners is that we have to be flexible," Cassis said. "Partnerships contain different elements because companies seek to accomplish different goals at our facility."

NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Jeff Burton took a break from his one-day test to address the forum. Burton, who is seeking a primary sponsor for his car for the 2004 season, outlined the cost of a car sponsorship and offered advice to potential sponsors.

"Went I went Winston Cup racing my rookie year, I want say that a middle- to lower-tier sponsorship was in the $6 to $7 million range. Today, a major sponsorship for a major Winston Cup car is $18 million. A lot of teams are in the $14 to $15 million range," Burton said.

"We've experienced a tremendous upward trend and now it's leveled off based on the amount companies spend and the amount of return. The sport is covered a whole lot better now, so there's not as much 'blue sky' as there was five or six years ago.

"What we're seeing happen is that companies are coming up with other ways to get involved without having to spend $15 million. That's why you see associate sponsorships and drivers representing companies that aren't on their racecar.

"All companies do it differently. To do it affectively, you can't just put your name on the side of a racecar. The car sponsorship can be the cornerstone of your sports marketing program, but you have to support that with print ads, television ads, radio spots and other elements that showcase the racecar."

Diamond, who played an integral role in creating the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series "Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" at Kentucky Speedway, said event sponsors should strive to create integrated programs. "I think most people make a mistake by looking at sponsorship as something that creates exposure. It's a lot more than exposure. It's really having leverage in an integrated approach. If you looked at this track during the race, there was no doubt it was a Ford event," Diamond said.

He said his race sponsorship program was designed to meet specific objectives and the company was pleased with the return on its Kentucky Speedway investment.

"Our mission with The Built Ford Tough 225 was pretty simple, introduce the next F-150 (truck) in a partnership with The Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers. Our objectives were to showcase the F-150, demonstrate our F Series heritage - we had trucks on track representing models from 1950 through the present, build our brand image, strengthen relationships between Ford dealers and race fans and try to drive qualified traffic to the dealers.

"The results were shown to Ford Division executives and I think they were impressed. Two-hundred-fifty-thousand viewers spent three hours with our products during the television broadcast, more than 46,000 fans attended the race where they were able to interact with the new F-150, and the incremental value of our company and product mentions was worth more than a half million dollars. Judging by our metrics, we received a three-to-one return for every dollar we invested."

~ Kentucky Speedway ~

For more information about sponsorship packages with Kentucky Speedway, contact Sales Director Dan Stuart at 859-647-4309.