STEVE: I think you’re right about the series, to an extent. I also think brand alliance is more subtle than many realize.
NASCAR fans are quite knowledgeable about their racing; nobody believes the Taurus they commute in has anything to do with Carl Edwards’s 750-horsepower tube-frame race car. And yet, and yet, and yet … as a brand-loyal fan, you DO want your favorite marque to win. You DO get a savage little rush of joy from it. You DO rub your Toyota-loving pal’s nose in it the following Monday at work. It’s hard to say exactly why.
You can liken this type of loyalty to that found in other sports. In today’s free-agent-driven sporting world, with players changing teams nearly at will, when you’re a fan of a given team you are – as my brother memorably puts it – rooting for laundry. And yet root you do! In NASCAR, you’re rooting for stickers that look like headlights.
One more note: For my money, the outfit that’s doing the best job pitting various carmakers against one another is Grand-Am’s Continental Tire Series. These are true production-based cars from BMW, Mazda, Kia, VW, Honda, Porsche, Ford, GM, Mini Cooper, Subaru, and others. The competition is hot and heavy, and when your favorite marque takes the checkers, your pride is legitimate. (Of course, I may be biased: my company, Flatout Motorsports, built Mazda MX-5s that are racing in this series right now!)
TAMMY: We'll forgive Steve his bias, and we'll welcome Simon back from injury! I know I've read studies done where NASCAR fans in particular say they buy the products that sponsor their drivers because they feel doing so will support the team and help them win. But I can't say I've switched to AFLAC because they sponsor Carl Edwards. Nor have I bought a Corvette or Porsche though those are my favorite teams in the American Le Mans Series, though as Simon points out, that's a matter of economics more than preference!
But we want to know what you all think: do you buy based on what or who sponsors your favorite driver? Do you drive what your favorite team drives, because they do? Do you think it's all ridiculous?