Army Guard Ends NASCAR, Indy Sponsorships

ARLINGTON, Va.—(Aug. 6) The Army National Guard is ending its sponsorship of NASCAR and Indy Racing League car racing, according to a release from the Army Guard.

The decision was made after an intensive internal review. The Army Guard is sponsoring NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Indy Racing League driver Graham Rahal during this racing season.

"Significantly constrained resources and the likelihood of further reductions in the future call for more innovative and cost-effective ways of doing business," said Maj. Gen. Judd H. Lyons, the acting director of the Army National Guard.

The Army Guard spent $32 million on its NASCAR sponsorship and $12 million on its IndyCar sponsorship for 2014. Future programs will rely on much smaller budgets.

Existing sponsorship contracts with NASCAR and IRL are set to expire at the end of the current season, he 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," Lyons said.

Motorsports sponsorships served as a way to build greater awareness of the Army Guard as a whole.

"As part of a broad recruitment marketing strategy, motorsports partnerships, including NASCAR, played an important role in helping the National Guard build strong brand awareness and in turn helped us achieve extraordinary recruiting and end-strength objectives over the past decade," said Lt. Col. Christian Johnson, who heads Army Guard marketing.

"Our NASCAR sponsorship was principally a marketing program, intended primarily to build awareness of the National Guard as a career option" said Johnson.  "The NASCAR sponsorship allowed the National Guard to leverage a 77 million fan base and the sport's most popular driver."

Despite reduced budgets, the Army National Guard needs to continue to recruit new people.

"Our accessions mission, the number of new members who need to join the Army Guard each year, is the second largest in the Department of Defense, second only to the active Army," said Lyons. 

"To make best use of limited marketing dollars, future programs will have to sustain the Army National Guard brand with the American public, and also generate quality leads that will fill our ranks with the best soldiers that America has to offer."

Motorsports sponsorships are not the only programs to be impacted by decreasing budgets. Since 2012, the Army Guard has reduced sports sponsorships from six, including professional fishing and motorcycle racing, to just the NASCAR and IndyCar sponsorships. In fiscal 2015, the Army Guard's marketing budget is expected to be about half of what it was just three years ago.