UDTRA looks to future without HAT sponsorship

WOODSTOCK, GA (Nov. 29, 2000) - One of the longest running motorsports sponsorships is ending, as the parent company of the Hav-a-Tampa brand, Altadis USA, has opted not to renew its 11-year relationship with the United Dirt Track...

WOODSTOCK, GA (Nov. 29, 2000) - One of the longest running motorsports sponsorships is ending, as the parent company of the Hav-a-Tampa brand, Altadis USA, has opted not to renew its 11-year relationship with the United Dirt Track Racing Association (UDTRA) due to a change in corporate philosophy. "We regret that we must say good-bye to our friends at Hav-a-Tampa, but we have suspected that this could happen ever since the first buyout in 1997," says UDTRA President Mike Swims. "We are currently negotiating with several companies for various sponsorship levels. "As far as the fans are concerned, this won't affect our show at all. They will witness the best dirt late model racing with the best drivers. It will continue to be 'America's Favorite Show on Dirt'. And as far as the teams and drivers are concerned, we will soon be announcing details about the point fund, which will be at least $170,000 again, and guaranteed increased event purses. Details about the television package will be announced in the near future. The 2001 UDTRA series will be bigger and better than ever." Hav-a-Tampa had become synonymous with the UDTRA late model dirt series since it became the title sponsor in 1990. The series ran 12 races offering $100,000 in total prize money in 1990, but grew quickly under the leadership of the UDTRA. Scott Bloomquist won his fourth UDTRA championship in 2000, winning 10 of the 45 events that offered $4 million in total prize money, including a $170,000 point fund. The 2001 tentative schedule, to be announced Thursday during the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis, will include at least 43 events, opening with a doubleheader Feb. 3 at Golden Isles Speedway in Brunswick, Ga. The schedule is highlighted by a three-day show at Bristol Motor Speedway May 31-June 2, offering $200,000 in total prize money, and a $40,000 to win race at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis., on Aug. 3-4. The 12th annual season-ending UDTRA Shootout is set for Oct. 12-13 at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock will pay $54,000 to win. But the Hav-a-Tampa brand will no longer be the sponsor. In 1997, Havatampa, Inc., was purchased by Tabacalera de Espana, a Spanish cigar company, and in 1999 Tabacalera merged with France's SEITA to form a company called Altadis. Motorsports sponsorship is not part of Altadis USA's marketing plan. "There is no denying the racing program was good for the Hav-a-Tampa brand through the years as it helped in the regional markets to establish the brand," says Eric Workman, Vice President of Marketing and National Accounts for Altadis USA. "It wasn't that the racing program didn't deliver - it was more that we couldn't build on the point we had reached, based on the new marketing philosophy we've adopted. "When we looked at where we wanted to take the company and spend our dollars, we had to take our marketing programs in a different direction. The old Hav-a-Tampa marketing group certainly used the racing program well in terms of customer relations and getting consumer impressions." Jimmy Mosteller was a senior vice president at HAT in 1990. He is regarded as the founder of the "cigar circuit" and has continued to be involved with the series since his retirement from HAT in 1995. "The series has been very good for the Hav-a-Tampa and Phillies cigar brands," Mosteller says, "and it will be good for the new sponsor. I'm of the opinion that if the growth pattern continues, this could be one of the greatest racing series in this country in a few years." "We want to thank Hav-a-Tampa for everything they've done to help us build a great racing series," says Swims. "We could not have reached this point without them. We are now ready to springboard into the future with another great company that we can partner with to continue the growth of the UDTRA series." That's why ProSportsAgency of Charlotte, NC, was retained as the official agency of the UDTRA, and principal KC Spurlock has been negotiating with potential sponsors for several months. "The UDTRA series is a perfect venue for a grass roots sponsorship program," says Spurlock. "Racing fans are brand loyal, and the opportunities are tremendous for the right sponsor to assume the title rights, as well as various other involvement levels."

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Series Stock car
Drivers Scott Bloomquist