By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Competition between NASCAR manufacturers isn’t confined to the race track. In a press conference featuring executives from Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota, Ed Laukes of Toyota couldn’t pass up an opportunity to needle Chevy’s Jim Campbell.
“Let me apologize for those 16 Monday mornings,” Laukes quipped, referring to Toyota’s 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories this season.
“Let me apologize for last night,” retorted Campbell, referring to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship Chevrolet driver Johnny Sauter won on Friday.
All NASCAR’s OEMs are in the business of selling cars, and all view NASCAR racing as an invaluable resource toward that end.
“I would just say, first of all, we’re a car company,” Campbell said. “So being in a sport where the car and the drivers are the stars is straight right on the money for us. What we have found in this series, we get skill and reach in terms of audience. We know, because we measure closely, that our involvement in NASCAR, we see a lift in the brand.
“We see key image ratings for Chevrolet lifted as well. When those two things happen, good things happen in the showroom. More people put you on their shopping list. That’s a fact. We see that for sure.”
Ford is expanding its involvement in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with the addition of four-car Stewart-Haas Racing next year.
“There’s no secret there’s a heck of an investment we all make in this sport,” said Dave Pericak, director of Ford Performance. “We wouldn’t be doing that if we weren’t getting a return on our investment. Having said that, it’s the enthusiasts that are here. We are talking to them. We are giving them what they want.
“At the end of the day, those are the people that go out and be the ambassadors for our companies. When somebody wants to know what they should buy, what Ford is doing, Chevy, that’s who they go talk to—they talk to enthusiasts. We’re really talking to the people that are going to help us carry our message forward.”