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Chevron Puts Brakes to NASCAR Backing

The Globe and Mail (Canada), August 20, 2008

Bloomberg News, with a file from Reuters

Juan Pablo Montoya, who left Formula One for NASCAR two years ago, will need a new sponsor for 2009 after Chevron Corp. said it would end its backing of his car in the top Sprint Cup Series.

Chevron will leave NASCAR's top division in favour of local and regional programs to promote its Texaco Havoline brand motor oil, the San Ramon, Calif.-based company said in a statement.

Havoline's sponsorship of Chip Ganassi Racing With Felix Sabates, owner of Montoya's No. 42 Dodge Charger, will continue through the end of the 2008 Nascar season.

"Despite the success of our partnership, we understand that priorities change and wish Chevron the best in implementing its new marketing initiatives," car owner Chip Ganassi said in the statement.

Past high-profile drivers of its Texaco Havoline cars included Davey Allison, Ernie Irvan and Ricky Rudd.

The Havoline cancellation is the latest sponsorship setback for Ganassi.

The company last month shut down the Sprint Cup Series team of 2007 Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti and laid off 70 employees after failing to find backers.

Molson Coors Brewing Co. dropped its sponsorship of another Ganassi car last season.

Chevron splits its sponsorship of Montoya's car with Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.'s Big Red and Juicy Fruit chewing gums. Sponsorship for a car on a team such as Ganassi's would probably range from $15-million (U.S.) to $20-million a year, said William Chipps, senior editor of IEG Sponsorship Report in Chicago.

Chevron got the Havoline and Texaco brands in its 2001 takeover of Texaco Inc.