Students Study the Business of NASCAR

Auto racing is considered to be among the fastest growing sports, with over 78 million loyal supporters and raking in about $3 million in licensed product sales on an annual basis. Clearly NASCAR translates into very big business. With this in mind, in 2004, Professors Jon Ackley and Michael W. Pitts introduced an honors course for the study of “The Business of NASCAR” that runs every fall semester at the Virginia Commonwealth University.

Approximately 20 students attend the course each year to benefit from the expertise of these two professors, as well as to gain insight from guest speakers who lecture on a range of subjects and issues related to the fast moving world of auto racing. Students will analyze the operation of the business and can look forward to being addressed by a race track public relations director, a newspaper reporter and advertising account executives for NASCAR. They will also be given an in-depth tour of the Richmond International Raceway.

The course includes gaining an understanding of how contracts are negotiated and signed up, as well as how salaries are generated for the support teams of the drivers. An auto racing team may have 40 cars and a support team of 200 or more employees, including the highly trained crew chiefs, engineers and mechanics who are essential to the success of the team.

According to financial analysts, NASCAR fans are extremely brand loyal, which highlights the value of sponsorship. Although sponsorship is a costly exercise for companies, it is considered to be worth the expense because of the extensive exposure that NASCAR events have, with broadcasting to at least 160 countries. It is this kind of exposure that attracts foreign sponsors such as Toyota as well as drawing foreign drivers who normally race Formula 1 and the Indianapolis 500.

Another factor that influences the financial aspects of NASCAR is the fact that it is privately owned and not unionized and has no pension plan. These are all issues that must be taken into consideration by anyone seeking employment in this multi million dollar sport.

With the popularity of this sport showing no signs of slowing down, the study course on the Business of NASCAR at the Virginia Commonwealth University is likely to continue giving valuable insight to students who want to carve out a career in the fast-paced world of auto racing.

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