NASCAR has set a new guidelines that will govern and require approval for race naming rights sold by race tracks starting in 2014. It's called "The NRA Rule."
The new policy—established about six months after the National Rifle Association sponsored the Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway—was revealed in sanction agreements filed Friday by Dover Motorsports Inc. with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
“As part of the normal course of annually reviewing our sanction language, there are some changes that take place,” NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said. “This is one of those situations. We previously said we’d take a look at this area of the sanctioning agreements, adjust as needed, and that’s what we’ve done.”
In other words, NASCAR followed up on a promise it made back in April when Higdon said the controversial NRA sponsorship “has made it clear that we need to take a closer look at our approval process moving forward, as current circumstances need to be factored in when making decisions."
TMS officials have indicated the NRA will not return as the race sponsor. Whether NASCAR would now reject the NRA was not immediately clear since NASCAR has not received a request. But what is clear is that it would face more scrutiny in the past when NASCAR’s sanction agreements did not require formal approval and simply said, “NASCAR reserves the right to approve or disapprove any advertising, sponsorship or similar agreement in connection with the event.”
The 2014 sanction agreement now states that tracks must submit for approval all race entitlement sponsors.
“(NASCAR) will disapprove a prospective entitlement sponsor only if such prospective entitlement sponsor’s brand has been tarnished by, controversy, crisis or circumstance such that its association with the event would damage the NASCAR brand or the image of the sport or … it would damage the (broadcasting) network’s ability to sell advertising,” the sanction agreement states.
Among other parts of the process:
• NASCAR will keep the identity of prospective sponsors a secret and limit which NASCAR employees have knowledge of the request.
• If NASCAR rejects a sponsor, it will consider a modified sponsorship, the substitution of another brand owned by the same company or reconsider the sponsorship at a time when the company’s brand image has recovered. • Tracks can appeal the decision to a three-member committee made up of NASCAR President Mike Helton, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Steve O’Donnell and one other NASCAR vice president.
“It is imperative that NASCAR events and industry sponsors reflect of the image of NASCAR as one of the world’s most successful and exciting sports entertainment properties and that fans feel comfortable and welcome attending or watching NEM (NASCAR Event Management) events,” the sanction agreement states.
“Therefore, NEM reserves the right to approve or disapprove any advertising, sponsorship or similar agreement in connection with the event.”
The other major change in the sanction agreement is that NASCAR says it will pay for the use of its new Air Titan track drying system at events, but it can require its use. In the past, tracks were responsible for all jet fuel used for jet driers.
Dover lists sanction and purse fees at $12.461 million total for its two Cup races, up from $12.172 million in 2013. For 2014, approximately $7.298 million of Dover’s purse is paid for by NASCAR’s television contract while Dover is responsible for approximately $5.163 million in purse and sanction fees—approximately $120,000 more than in 2013 for its two races, something which could at least partially cover Air Titan costs.
Dover will clear an approximate total of $21.1 million in television money for its two Cup races.