NASCAR won a court of appeal decision on Monday that allowed AT&T to display their logo on the #31 Chevy driven by Jeff Burton in the Nextel Cup.
AT&T officials are investigating their options and are unsure what the Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet for Jeff Burton will look like this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. NASCAR won a ruling Monday in the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturning an injunction that had allowed the AT&T logos to replace the Cingular logos on the car.
“We’re looking at a variety of options – we haven’t really settled on which ones we’ll pursue at this point, both on a legal front and a non-legal front,” AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said Tuesday morning. “One of the things we’re looking at is exactly what the car will look like this weekend. We’re considering our options, and we haven’t reached a decision yet.”
NASCAR is very protective of their main sponsors, but they may be just going too far. NASCAR owes it’s existence to the teams, sure NASCAR is the regulatory body controlling Stock Car Racing, but without the teams it has absolutely nothing, and maybe it’s time it was reminded of this.
Sponsors are not easy for the teams to find or hold on to, and it gets even more difficult when sponsors are offered title and series sponsorships by NASCAR itself. More often than not these sponsors were bought into the sport by the teams themselves, only to find them stolen away by the governing body.
With NASCAR in control of the series it will thn proceed to milk all it can out of those sponsors, leaving nothing in the sponsors budgets to even consider sponsoring a team, and of course in return for these sponsorship dollars crossing into the NASCAR coffers they offer exclusivity rights, locking teams out from pursuing any of the sponsors competition.
With the US being the home of capitalism, and boasting the worlds best “free market”, it seems incredible that NASCAR can continue to do this and get away with it, however after this ruling it seems they are free to do whatever they want in the areas of limiting a teams power to seek sponsorship. It would be interesting to see if sometime a team will decide to step up and challenge NASCAR, but then with I am sure NASCAR has this covered with very detailed contracts. Whatever the outcome, it’s the teams that are losing their rights to be able to find sponsorship.