Sprint to end top-tier Nascar sponsorship after 2016 season

Telecommunications company Sprint is to end its long-standing title sponsorship of Nascar’s top US motor-racing series when it’s current contract expires after the 2016 season.

Sprint, which assumed the sponsorship of the Sprint Cup Series when it bought out Nextel in 2005, announced on Tuesday that it will not engage Nascar in talks to renew the contract.

An initial 10-year deal that ran from 2004-2013 was believed to be worth $750m (€602m), with a three-year extension signed in December 2011 to cover the 2014 through 2016 period raising the annual value of the deal to around $80m.

As well as marketing of the competition, Sprint as title sponsor has also been responsible for funding the season-ending points fund, which was approximately $22m in 2014.

Steve Gaffney, Sprint’s vice-president of marketing, said: “We are proud of our association with Nascar’s top series but have made the decision not to extend our sponsorship beyond the next two years.

“As we look to the future, Sprint is focused on investing in maintaining a competitive edge and providing consumers with the best value in wireless.

“Sprint has long benefited from the unprecedented level of brand integration available in Nascar, and the passionate fan base that is the most loyal in sports. Without question, the Nascar sponsorship property has been a valuable investment for us and will be for our successor.”

Sprint was bought out by SoftBank in 2013, and Nascar believes that changes within the company have led to the decision.

Nascar spokesman Brett Jewkes said: “Nascar and Sprint have enjoyed a long and productive partnership that has returned significant value to both parties. We understand significant changes within Sprint and the highly competitive business environment it is in has led to a decision not to extend its Cup Series entitlement position following the 2016 season.

“The Nascar Sprint Cup Series is a very unique, premium sports marketing platform with strong momentum, so we are very confident of moving forward in 2017 with an outstanding new partner. In the meantime, we look forward to Sprint’s partnership on the best racing series in the world for the next two seasons.”