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Danica Patrick’s 2016 Sponsor Is Named In A Lawsuit

Danica Patrick poses with the new Nature's Bakery #10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. [Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for Stewart-Haas Racing]

Danica Patrick poses with the 2016 Nature’s Bakery #10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. [Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for Stewart-Haas Racing]

Turk’s Tracks

A Few Loose Lug Nuts from Pit Row

by Gene Turk

In a previous article, I had made the comment that 2017 might be a make or break year for Danica Patrick in NASCAR based on her finishing performance during the last two years. I would like to go on record that I wish nothing but the best for Danica and hope that her 2017 racing season is safe and productive. Unfortunately, 2017 hasn’t exactly started out as well as she might have hoped.

Stewart-Hass has filed a breach of contract vs. Nature’s Bakery – Danica’s primary sponsor in 2016. Stewart- Hass claims that it has a multi-year contract with Nature’s Bakery to sponsor the #10 car. Nature’s Bakery had originally asked to rework its payment schedule. Then on January 19th, Nature’s Bakery announced that it would terminate its agreement with Stewart-Hass saying that Patrick wasn’t a good enough brand ambassador.

Now, I am not a lawyer nor do I have access to the contract agreements between these two groups. But what I do know is that Nature’s Bakery was one of the smallest companies with a primary sponsorship in the sport. Also, Danica was not wearing a Nature’s Bakery racing suit at an earlier photo shoot. She had a TaxAct suit on. What I don’t know is how do you define what is a good brand ambassador vs. not a good enough brand ambassador. I don’t know what Danica did or didn’t do to make her sponsor believe that she didn’t meet their expectations. I also don’t know if Nature’s Bakery won’t (or can’t) make payments to Stewart-Hass. I guess we’ll just have to wait to see how this plays out in the courts.

During my many years of working in a manufacturing role at numerous Fortune 500 companies, I learned a few things on how corporations approach capital expenditures. All expenditures are evaluated on a return on investment (R.O.I.) bases. If the R.O.I. is not significant enough, the company simply won’t be in business very long. My logic would them tell me that when a company chooses to sponsor a race team, it would do so with the expectation of getting some return on its investment. What and how those returns are is determined by the contract.

When a company sponsors a race car, they can use the driver and, or the car to promote their business. They can do this through commercials on television, ads that pop up on your computer, personal appearances, and anything else that they choose. One of the things that really makes a sponsor happy is when the T.V. camera’s follow their car for lap after lap after lap during the race. They consider this free advertising. However, the T.V. camera man is under no rule to give equal time to all 40 cars during the race. When was the last time you watched a 3 hour race and each of the 40 cars received exactly 4 1/2 minutes of air time. What you have is that the camera concentrates on the front runners and the poor soul in 35th place is all but ignored. Of course, if the 35th place car crashes, then he or she gets to be on television. But the sponsor isn’t very happy when his name is no longer on the car because the side of the car has been torn off and his logo on the hood is blocked by the black smoke from the oil fire under the hood. I wonder if Nature’s Bakery feels that their R.O.I. didn’t meet expectations because the #10 car simply didn’t run well enough to get the needed air time.

Until next time, stay tuned when I discuss the future for female drivers in motor sports.

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Gene Turk was born with racing in his blood. At age 8 he started racing Quarter Midgets as member of the Great Milwaukee Quarter Midget club. For five years he raced the #7 car that his father built. He then graduated from the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) with a degree in Industrial Engineering and Internal Combustion Engineering.

While in college he obtained his Private Pilot’s License.

Along the way he has attended numerous Indy car and stock car races at the Milwaukee Mile during the 60s, 70sand 80s along with area Midget car races. He would also frequently fly to the Brickyard to watch the Indy 500 time trials in the 60s and 70s and more recently attended the 2014 Indy 500.

He has also attended numerous sports car and NASCAR races at Elkhart Lake Road America. Finally, Gene has owned many classic cars including his present 1990 Corvette and is a self-described “Gear Head.”