New Cup Series Sponsor Likes NASCAR’s ‘Ballsy’ Attitude and Driver Passion

Photo by Matthew Thacker/Nigel Kirade Photography

By Jerry Jordan, Editor

PHOENIX – Anyone questioning Monster Energy’s commitment and happiness with NASCAR after three races into its official role as entitlement sponsor of the sport’s top touring series should know that “passion” and a “desire to win” are what the company looked for before it ever decided on where to spend its marketing dollars, according to V.P of Sports Marketing Mitch Covington.

Covington spoke to Kickin’ the Tires about Monster Energy’s view of the sport, the new stage racing format, the fight following the race in Las Vegas and the supposed controversy about having Monster Girls at the racetrack. So far, everyone at Monster Energy is happy and the buzz after Las Vegas helped foist the sport into the news cycle for several days.

“This goes back to being the true nature of being a racer and having emotion in the sport,” Covington said. “I think it is pretty obvious that if the drivers don’t care enough about it to be emotional then it becomes pretty boring entertainment. But that is not the case in NASCAR. What we found is that those guys are laying it all on the line, going four-wide at 200 mph and to me, it would be unrealistic if they weren’t really emotional about winning and losing and being able to hang it out like that.”

Covington said it’s always been Monster Energy’s philosophy to support their drivers and the series the company and the company isn’t swayed by what some may seem as being too edgy. The fact that Kyle Busch and Joey Logano were at each other’s throats after Las Vegas was viewed as a display of the passion they both have to win; and since NASCAR didn’t penalize anyone involved it appears the goal is to let drivers show more personality.

“We want to see real emotion and real racing,” he said. “As far as whether Monster wants to be any certain thing, we just want to see real racing and real racers and see them go at it every weekend. The first three races have been great events and if they have a problem with one another after the race, then so be it.

“We are known as a racing brand and we look at NASCAR as a premiere racing sport that is uniquely American and it looked like a great partnership for us to be a part of the premiere racing series in America. One of my favorite parts of our culture is that we stand behind our athletes.”

As for the “outrage” claimed in a recent USA Today article highlighting six negative Tweets regarding the presence of having Monster Energy girls at the racetrack, Covington laughed it off, saying that pretty girls have been a part of auto racing throughout history. He also cleared up the misperception that fans don’t like the Monster Energy girls.

“The models have been part of our brand from the beginning and racing and pretty girls have been hand-in-hand for as long as there as racing,” Covington said. “We felt that NASCAR needed that brought back in a bigger way and we just like beautiful models being part of our events and actually the reception we have received from NASCAR fans has been overwhelmingly positive.”

A few other aspects about NASCAR that Covington was able to shed some light on was the company’s reaction to the new stage racing format and NASCAR’s gamble on putting it in place. He believes it adds to the sport and proclaimed the drivers, team owners and most of the fans he has talked with, enjoy it.

“It was derived from the drivers and NASCAR and the owners all coming together to come up with that format and they have done a great job communicating that to the fans,” Covington said. “The other thing I commend NASCAR on is being ballsy enough to come in and make that big of a change in the rules in one year. As I look across to the different motorsports around the world, it has got to be one of the biggest changes to ever be made all at one time, to change the format to stage racing. The drivers that I have talked to really like it and we like it, so far, and again it shows NASCAR’s commitment to the fans and the drivers to be able to make changes to something that has been around for a long time. We like it and we are very positive on it.

“We looked at NASCAR as the premiere racing sport that is uniquely American and being a worldwide brand based in the U.S. and it looked like a great partnership for us. It really is an honor for us to make history to be one of three sponsors of NASCAR and being that NASCAR is such an important part of Americana, it is also an important part of so many of our customers’ lifestyles.

Although Monster Energy has 37.4 percent of the U.S. energy drink convenience store sales, according to its most recent annual report, the company is small when compared to big beverage producers like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. That said, Monster Energy’s at-track presence and activation has been ramping up since the Daytona 500. With its Smoke Show and Balls of Steel exhibits a success, Covington said he and the company have a few more tricks up their sleeves going forward.

“We hope the fans enjoyed it,” he said. “I think it went over well with the Smoke Show and the Balls of Steel but

“We have some motor cross activities go on and some freestyle with people doing some really unique things. We’ve got some things in store, so I don’t want to spill my popcorn in the lobby and tell you everything we have planned but I think you will continue to see us ratchet up our activation at the races because the fans seem to respond well to it in NASCAR. You know we came to an agreement to be the entitlement sponsor and hopefully NASCAR is happy with it, we are happy with it at this point and we are off to a great start. We have two longtime athletes in Kyle and Kurt Busch that have made a great impact in the first three weeks of the season and we are all smiles about it. It’s a hell of a lot of fun and we want to keep it going.”

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