The Frontstretch: Voices From the Heartland: Silly Sponsors and Another Nail In the "Manufacturer's" Coffin by Jeff Meyer -- Friday March 28, 2008

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As usual following an "off" NASCAR week, finding things to write about can be pretty slow. There were, however, a few things that did pique my interest enough for me to share my opinion on them with you my lucky readers.

Of course there has been the whole Jack Roush vs. The World Toyota saga, but since I am running a day late this week, you've probably read all you want on that subject anyway. Not that there is much of an actual story there. The way I see it, if Jack Roush has the lugnuts enough to make accusations of theft, he should at least "put up or shut up". Don't throw little barbs out there and then not tell the whole story. If they stole something, tell us what it is! Until Jack comes clean, to me he appears to be just a sniveling little crybaby. (And now, to use a phrase that I detest, but seems to be one of our editor's favorites, and would have probably been thrown in here anyway…) But I digress.

What I really sat down here to write about is an international company called Vanguard Integrity Professionals, based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Vanguard is a security software company whose CEO and owner, Ronn Bailey, has a penchant for off road racing. So much so that Vanguard had a three year sponsorship agreement with Robby Gordon's Team Gordon, for the 2008, 2009 and 2010 Dakar Rally.

For those of you who don’t already know, the Dakar Rally is an annual off road race that starts in Spain and ends on the west coast of Africa. It is about 7000 miles long and makes the Baja 1000 seem like a leisurely trip down the road to the chemists.

This year however, the Dakar Rally was called off due to threats of terrorism by militants supposedly linked to al-Qaeda. Robby Gordon, after spending about 3 million from his race team's "slush fund" in preparation for the race, was not too pleased and in typical Robby frankness, voiced his opinion about the cancellation.

"Let's put it in perspective. Eleven people got killed over there," said Gordon shortly after the announced cancellation. "I'm pretty sure in L.A., we kill 11 a night on the streets of L.A…. It was a couple of kids in the back of a pickup truck with a couple of AK-47s shot a couple of people. I'm sorry to say that. But the reality of it is it's not like it's the big setup bombing."

Vanguard, whose software products protect its clients from cyber-terrorism, supposedly verified independently that the threat of violence was real and agreed with the ASO (Amaury Sports Organization) that the cancellation was warranted. What Vanguard didn't agree with was Robby's statements. A Vanguard press release sums it up.

Sponsors are happy with Robby Gordon’s driving but less pleased with his opinions.

Vanguard continues to believe Robby Gordon is one of the most talented off-road race drivers in the world, and has the highest respect for his driving abilities. However, with the cancellation of the 2008 Dakar Rally due to terrorist threats, along with Team Gordon's public statements in response to that cancellation, continued sponsorship of Team Gordon no longer provides Vanguard with the appropriate promotional opportunities.

Long story short, with the cancellation of the Dakar Rally, Robby Gordon, having already received about a million bucks from Vanguard, has been using their logos in his NASCAR ventures on his uniform and equipment, giving the company at least some exposure that they would not otherwise be getting. Vanguard, for reasons that I cannot fathom, is none to happy about this exposure and is attempting to sue Robby to stop. The question that I ask is, Why?

Now for reasons the editorial staff has strictly forbidden me to divulge, I can tell you that I do know a thing or two about large corporation security, the likes of which are Vanguard's customers, but I have never heard of Vanguard Integrity Professionals until they tried (unsuccessfully) to get Robby to stop using their logos. That's not to say that they are not a top notch company, for I'm sure that they are. I'm just saying that until this all has surfaced in the NASCAR world, I have never heard of them, along with probably 99 percent of the rest of folks that follow NASCAR worldwide.

I realize they are not getting the overseas exposure that they intended by sponsoring Team Gordon in the Dakar, but you would think that they would be happy to have what exposure Robby IS able to give them.

My advice to Vanguard CEO Ronn Bailey is take what exposure you can get and be proud of it. You've already paid Robby, let him do what he can. Me on the other hand, my contribution to your exposure by writing this article is free! Run with it!

The other short little item that caught my attention this week was the low key announcement that BAM Racing (No. 49 - Kenny Schrader) will be using a Toyota power plant this Sunday in Martinsville.

Recently in our Frontstretch Forums, the question of "Does the manufacturer matter anymore when it comes to NASCAR" is being debated for the umpteenth time. I say it doesn't.

Many, including the manufacturers, still insist that the old adage "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday" is still valid. But I ask you; When a team can overnight, go from the No. 49 "Dodge Charger", to the No. 49 "Toyota Camry", with no extensive tests or retooling or anything like that, what does that tell you about the state of today's "spec" car?

Stay off the wall,

Jeff Meyer

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alan4s
03/28/2008 07:01 AM
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Jeff,

What you failed to mention about Vanguard is the reason they did the sponsorship for Robby in the first place – equipment for thier driver.

Ronn Baily has attempted the Dakar a few times in the past, and has never completed the race. He did the sponsorship deal to get a ride. Robby Gordon Offroad built a second Hummer, and completely revamped the original one. Ronn was to drive one of these in the Dakar. His stated goal was “to finish the race”. Robby didn’t want to simply finish – he intends to dominate. If Mr. Moneybags wants to give him a bag of cash to help pay for it, fine.

With the cancelation of Dakar, and no forseeable return to Africa in the next few years, Ronn has had his poor-little-rich-boy dream taken away, so wants his money back.

Douglas
03/28/2008 07:55 AM
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Correction! just to be accurate!

The DAKAR actually starts in LISBON, PORTUGAL
not Spain!

I just happen to love Lisbon & get there frequently!

GO ROBBY!

Mike
03/28/2008 10:44 AM
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The vehicle that’s being used now is like a slot car. Change the motor and the body decals and you’ve got a new car. And if NASCAR goes through with their common engine parts idea, then you won’t even have to change the engine. It will become little more than IROC under the NASCAR banner.

alan4s
03/28/2008 02:04 PM
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The Rousch part taken by Toyota was front sway bar, taken at Dover last fall. Scenedaily has the story right now.

Mike
03/28/2008 02:59 PM
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Thanks for the tip alan4s but i’ll wait till a reputable source comes out with the real story .

John
03/28/2008 07:02 PM
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Jeffy Boy, Why don’t you just go up to Jack Rousch and hit him upside the head and call hill a Sniveling crybaby? No.. Its a lot easier to call names from an office than face to face..

Charles Jackson
03/31/2008 02:49 PM
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Yes the car still matters! That is one reason the Nascar is declining! Just take a look at the defunct IROC Series is a example of the ‘Spec Car’ scene! Pulling for the brand of car is what built NASCAR!It is no different than pulling for your favorite football team, if the star quarterback leaves for another team most fans pull for the team! Ford, Toyota, Chevy and Dodge would not be putting so much money in it if they didnt think it mattered! Nascars main problem is ‘EVENING UP THE COMPETITION BETWEEN MANUFACTURERS” been a one brand show for many years!If you are a GM Fan you should be happy!When it was rumored that Jr and Dei might go to another brand, all the “driver fans” on the blogs came out of the closet and want Jr to stay with Chevy, which he should and did! but also us “Car Guys” are putting other hobbies on out list, instead of Nascar!So far this year it has been better competition between the manufactuers!Keep it up all season! As far as the how easy it was to switch from Dodge to Toyota, I rememnber in the 70s Rodger Penske did the same thing with the American Motors Madator, and won some races fast!So this is nothing new! If they keep this spec car up, the empty seats at Martinsville could be shape of thing to come!, Just like FAILED SPEC CAR SERIES, IRL,CHAMP CAR, IROC!

 

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Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

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