US reserve military force the National Guard has announced it will withdraw from its sponsorship commitments to Nascar and IndyCar at the end of the US motor racing series’ 2014 seasons.
The National Guard sponsors leading Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr and his Hendrick Motorsports team as well as IndyCar driver Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. However, in a statement on the organisation’s official website, the National Guard confirmed its funding for motorsports would end due to budget cuts.
“Significantly constrained resources and the likelihood of further reductions in the future call for more innovative and cost-effective ways of doing business,” Major General Judd H Lyons, acting director of the Army National Guard, said. “We believe industry and open competition can help us identify effective and efficient solutions to help us meet our marketing and recruiting objectives within budget constraints.”
According to the statement, the National Guard spent $32m (€23.5m) on Nascar-related sponsorship and $12m on IndyCar-related sponsorship, with both programmes including at-track and off-site recruitment drives alongside payments to the teams. However, Hendrick Motorsports, which has been associated with the National Guard since Earnhardt joined the team in 2008, said that there is an agreement in place between the two parties to run through to the end of the 2015 campaign.
“Our team has a contract in place to continue the National Guard programme at its current level in 2015,” Hendrick said. “We have not been approached by the Guard about potential changes and plan to honour our current agreement.”
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing co-owner Bobby Rahal said: “This is obviously very disappointing news to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing given the significant incremental brand exposure we have worked to produce for the National Guard in our first season together, including various off-track marketing and advertising programmes focused on supporting the mission set forth. We will continue to work hard to uphold the honour and integrity of the National Guard throughout the remainder of the season.”