Ever wonder why more Fortune 500 companies support NASCAR than any other sport in America?

Last night, three of the industry?s top executives ? 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Champion Dale Jarrett, driver of the #88 UPS Ford; Brian France, NASCAR executive vice president and vice chairman, and John Beystehner, UPS senior vice president of worldwide sales and marketing -- shared insight on the sport that gives businesses a reason to jump on the fast track.

Matthew Alexander, vice president and general manager of Raceway Associates, including Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway, moderated the panel discussion hosted by The Executives? Club of Chicago.

With the NASCAR Winston Cup Series only five weeks away from its third annual stop at Chicagoland Speedway, one of NASCAR?s most recent additions to the Midwest circuit and a region of growing importance for the industry ? UPS and NASCAR are taking the lead in educating businesses on the benefits of the sport, both on and off the race track.

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, known as NASCAR to the more than 75 million fans who flock to speedways and televisions across the country for the 10-month season, is the second highest rated televised sport in the U.S., surpassed only by the NFL. The 36-race season begins in mid-February with SpeedWeeks in Daytona Beach. Fla., and ends with the crowning of the NASCAR Winston Cup Champion in November.

?NASCAR is a sport that gives sponsors a great deal of focus and a brand-loyal fan base,? France noted. ?UPS has been aggressive and innovative in linking its sponsorship to its brand and services to add even more value to the association.?

Given the sport?s popularity, it?s no surprise that corporations like UPS seek a primary sponsorship, associate sponsorship, official status and media presence to gain unique business opportunities. According to research of the sport conducted by Ipsos-Reid for NASCAR, fans are three times more likely to purchase a sponsor?s product or services than non-sponsors.

?By tapping into the passion that fans and UPS employees feel for Dale Jarrett and the Robert Yates Racing team, we?ve created programs to deliver something new to the sport, expanded UPS services to the racing sector of the automotive supply chain and provided incentives for our employee performance,? said Beystehner of UPS.

The global package delivery giant has created exposure through its award-winning advertising. The ?Race the Truck? campaign has been extended to merchandising and licensed products, a fan Web site ( and in-car camera messages during race telecasts. Additional programs that link the brand attributes of UPS and racing to employee incentives are popular among a workforce that shares an affinity for the driving experience, safety and new automotive engineering and technologies.

UPS is on site each weekend in the garages for trackside services to and from the track for the race teams, NASCAR officials, sponsors and licensed product vendors. The company further extends its areas of involvement through driving safety outreach for teenagers and UPS Racing Technical Edge scholarships for minority students attending the NASCAR Technical Institute.

This past March, the Texas race showcased the new UPS look on the #88 car as part of the company?s global identity change. Beystehner emphasized the presence of the new UPS shield being quickly integrated into the racing program as a strong reinforcement of the reach of the NASCAR audience to carry UPS messages of expanded capabilities for synchronizing commerce.

Jarrett acknowledged that the sport he has been around his entire life has certainly expanded as a business enterprise. ?We put our fans first in delivering top notch racing, but the owners and drivers have to have a business approach to get the most out of our resources and skills and effectively use our time.? He

added the distinction of NASCAR drivers wanting to maintain access and be approachable for the fans, something that sponsors support to link with their products and services.

During the panel discussion, business executives from around the Chicago area posed questions to Jarrett, France and Beystehner ranging from why NASCAR has been a good investment for UPS to how NASCAR drivers have adapted to their duel roles as both athletes and spokespeople. An audience of almost 300 attended the event at the Chicago Hilton.

UPS has been the official express delivery company of NASCAR since 2000 and already has one victory this year, its third year as primary sponsor of the #88 UPS Ford Taurus driven by Dale Jarrett for Robert Yates Racing. Building on the sport's growing popularity and fan loyalty, UPS has been recognized for a strong marketing platform that links its services to the speed, precision and reliability of NASCAR racing. UPS continues to build new business opportunity directly within the racing community, related automotive and supplier industries and with new revenues through licensed product merchandising. Visit for more information about UPS Racing and #88 team performance and features.

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