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National Guard to stop Motorsports sponsorship at end of 2014

The Army National Guard announced on Tuesday that they will no longer sponsors Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, or Graham Rahal in the Verizon IndyCar Series moving forward after an internal review of their budgets. The announcement comes forth in knowing their budget for 2015 will be half of what they could spend three years ago.

“Significantly constrained resources and the likelihood of further reductions in the future call for more innovative and cost-effective ways of doing business,”  Maj Gen Judd H. Lyons, acting Director of the Army National Guard, said.

Per their statement, the Army Guard spent $32 million with their sponsorship on Earnhardt, and $12 million with their sponsorship for Rahal in 2014. Lyons recognized that they have paid off in strengthening brand awareness, however feel that other avenues could be more cost effective in marketing and recruiting.

“As part of a broad recruitment marketing strategy, motorsports partnerships—including NASCAR—played an important role in helping the National Guard build strong brand awareness and in turn helped us achieve extraordinary recruiting and end-strength objectives over the past decade,” Lt Col Christian Johnson, who heads Army Guard marketing, said. “Our NASCAR sponsorship was principally a marketing program, intended primarily to build awareness of the National Guard as a career option. The NASCAR sponsorship allowed the National Guard to leverage a 77 million fan base and the sport’s most popular driver.”

The Army Guard also added that the motorsports department is not the only department affected as since 2012, they have reduced sports sponsorships. They used to sponsor six diferent avenues, while just sponsoring two for 2014. Its all part of maintaining responsibility with regards to the taxpayer dollars.

“We share a common commitment to the American people to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” Lyons said. “We will continue to assess and refine our programs to ensure we get the best return on investment.”

On the NASCAR side, Hendrick Motorsports released a statement in saying that they will honor the contract that they have with the National Guard for this season, as well as the 2015 season.

“Our team has a contract in place to continue the National Guard program at its current level in 2015,” Rick Hendrick stated. “We have not been approached by the Guard about potential changes and plan to honor our current agreement.”

HMS has already worked at bringing additional partners in for Earnhardt Jr. over the years, signing Nationwide Insurance for 12 races in 2015, and 13 in 2016-2017. Pepsi Co also has an agreement to sponsor Earnhardt for so many races with their Mountain Dew brand. HMS also recently announced an agreement with DC Comics.

Meanwhile on the IndyCar Series side, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with David Letterman and Mike Manigan co-owner Bobby Rahal released the following statement….

“We were informed this after­noon that the National Guard will end all spon­sor­ship of motor­sports, including both IndyCar and NASCAR at the conclu­sion of the 2014 seasons. This is obvi­ously very disap­pointing news to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing given the signif­i­cant incre­mental brand expo­sure we have worked to produce for the National Guard in our first season together, including various off-track marketing and adver­tising programs focused on supporting the mission set forth. We will continue to work hard to uphold the honor and integrity of the National Guard throughout the remainder of the season. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing would like to thank the National Guard for allowing us the priv­i­lege of repre­senting some of the finest men and women, those ‘citizen soldiers’ that protect our free­doms and safety each and every day… as we Focus Forward!”

This marked the first season that National Guard was partnered with RLL after sponsoring Panther Racing from 2009 to 2013.

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