DuPont Tightens Its Corporate Belt

The economy isn’t good. We know that. And we know that that bad economy is presenting challenges for NASCAR. In fact, that story? Beaten. To. Death.

So the news that DuPont, "long recognized as the leader in hospitality among NASCAR sponsors" according to this story in the Sports Business Journal, will entertain fewer than 2,000 guests at six races (down from 17,000 and 37, respectively, in 2008) is arguably not a great surprise. Though I know for my part I’m always taken aback by examples of huge corporations behaving responsibly.
(Hello? Major League Baseball? Pro Football? And you — over there, hiding in the corner, you, the NBA? About those escalating ticket prices …)

And while the idea that DuPont’s decision could signal the beginning of the end of its relationship with Hendrick Motorsports and Jeff Gordon is startling, it likely doesn’t tell us much about NASCAR in particular or the world in general that we don’t already know. Namely, things will look a fair bit different in another year. 

In fact, it makes a certain sense that DuPont might leave after 2010, when its current contract with Hendrick and Gordon ends. By that time, the driver will be nearing 40 and have completed his 18th Cup season; it’s widely speculated that Gordon will retire at that point. And somehow, the idea that DuPont would decide to associate with another driver — or having anywhere near the return on its investment that it has enjoyed with Gordon — seems almost inconceivable.

The reality is, sponsors come and sponsors go — seen Goodwrench lately? Tide? Skoal? — and NASCAR remains. And, if and when DuPont makes that decision, it will say a great deal more about their business prospects than it does NASCAR’s.