NHRA's Wagner to address IEG Sponsorship Conference

CHICAGO - The NHRA is known for showcasing high-horsepower performances -- and that's not just on the race track. It has been a key time of accomplishment for the world's largest motorsports sanctioning body for performances off the track too. A...

CHICAGO - The NHRA is known for showcasing high-horsepower performances -- and that's not just on the race track. It has been a key time of accomplishment for the world's largest motorsports sanctioning body for performances off the track too. A period of growth has occurred during the last two years, launched by the acquisition of new business partners: most notably Coca-Cola's fast-growing sports drink POWERade--which became the title sponsor for NHRA's marquee nationwide touring series--and exclusive worldwide television partner, ESPN, Inc.

Bob Wagner, NHRA vice president of sales and business development, will discuss the formula NHRA put into action for securing new sponsors and reveal some of the strategies utilized to sell NHRA programs, during the 20th annual IEG Sponsorship Conference, March 10 at the Chicago Hilton and Towers.

Wagner's breakout session, titled "How to Break the Growth Ceiling," will be held at 3:30 p.m. (CT). He will discuss the methods utilized for modernizing a tradition-rich 50-year-old sports franchise by integrating new sales and marketing techniques.

While five-year contracts with POWERade and ESPN has been the base of the growth for NHRA, several other sponsorship endorsements have been key, including the addition of Coca-Cola and Dasani as NHRA Official sponsors. The NHRA signed Corona, Calif.-based Lucas Oil to sponsor its nationwide developmental series, and resigned Akron, Ohio-based Summit Racing Equipment to sponsor its cutting-edge Sport Compact Series. Meanwhile, all 23 events in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series in 2002 were sold to a variety of sponsors.

"This is a very exciting time to be aligned with NHRA because so many great things are going on with the sport, from POWERade's involvement to the great relationship we are building with our television partner, ESPN," says Wagner, who notes that NHRA is constantly creating new inventory in different areas for potential new sponsors. "Our event sponsorship inventory was sold out for 2002 and we only have one national event remaining in our inventory for 2003."

Wagner, who has worked in a similar capacity for other sports franchises, says the timing is right for a company to invest in NHRA.

"Unlike many other sports and motorsports properties, NHRA is growing and gaining popularity as evidenced by our surging national event attendance and expanding TV ratings," Wagner said. "Comparatively, it is very cost-effective for a company to come on board with NHRA and be a part of the excitement. There's many ways to be involved in NHRA -- through event sponsorship, team sponsorship, series sponsorship, official sponsorship and bonus event sponsorship. We can create a sponsorship package that's going to help a company spread its message to its target audience, as well as stimulate the dedicated and loyal NHRA audience."

Wagner joined the NHRA executive team on July 1, 2000. He is responsible for all sponsorship sales for NHRA and ESPN inventory that features the NHRA. Wagner also oversees all NHRA sales and corporate sponsorship programs, including title rights, race series and official sponsorships. He also is responsible for developing additional revenue producing programs.

Prior to joining the NHRA, Wagner spent 16 years with Major League Baseball's Anaheim Angels, Anaheim Mighty Ducks of the National Hockey League and eventually Anaheim Sports, where he served as vice president of advertising sales and broadcasting. He played an instrumental role in developing advertising and revenue sources for the Angels, Mighty Ducks, Disney ICE, Tempe Diablo Stadium, Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim and Edison International Field of Anaheim. Wagner also is in his third year teaching a sports management class for the University of San Francisco at its Southern California campus, located in Orange, Calif.

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Series Automotive , NHRA