In 2003, NASCAR entered into a sponsorship with Nextel, which then merged with Sprint. This was well before smartphones were all the rage. Today NASCAR has announced that Sprint will be ending its relationship at the end of 2015, severing Sprint’s exclusive rights to apps covering the sport which is a good thing.
I have been a fan of NASCAR for many years now, ever since they were originally sponsored by Winston. So in 2003 it was a really big deal when Nextel which then merged with Sprint became the sponsor for NASCAR’s top racing series. NASCAR was a pioneer in that it has always had commercial sponsorship except for the very early years, and without this, it would not be the sport it is today. With tobacco becoming more and more of a health issue, and with NASCAR trying to appeal to new fans, the writing was on the wall for Winston. Nextel stepped in, and with its sponsorship dollars they changed the sport forever.
Nextel and then Sprint both supported the sport very well with the exception of one area: apps. In the early days of the NASCAR relationship, it really didn’t matter, because apps were not a thing. When smartphones started to hit the scene, NASCAR was an easy fit. What’s better than being at the track and getting all the same data you could get when watching from home on your phone? However, in the early days, Sprint had exclusive rights to the apps. If you were on any other carrier, you couldn’t load the official NASCAR app on your phone. This eventually ended, but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I never could get the information I needed in those days because I was on Verizon, and the Sprint apps also helped add to the bloatware on Android phones back then. On Sprint and didn’t like NASCAR? Tough; you had to live with the app taking up space on your phone.
I only hope that from now on NASCAR thinks about this before picking another telecommunication carrier or even an internet service provider like Comcast for sponsorship. I’d rather they pick someone like Pizza Hut or another company who wouldn’t demand exclusive rights to all the information that comes out of the sport. It only makes it fair to those who are the very people who make the sport what it is, the fans. Without the fans, there would be no NASCAR.
What do you think? What company would you suggest sponsor NASCAR past 2015??