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News > Air Guard signs five-race contract with NASCAR
Air Guard signs five-race contract with NASCAR

Posted 6/22/2010   Updated 6/22/2010 Email story   Print story


by Army Sgt. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau

6/22/2010 - ARLINGTON, Va.,  -- The Air National Guard is following in the tire tracks of several military branches by sponsoring a NASCAR team for five races this season.

The first race for the Air National Guard car, owned by Bill Jenkins and his Latitude 43 Motorsports team, will be held this weekend - the Toyota/Save Mart 350 in Sonoma, Calif.

Jenkins, a new owner in NASCAR, was looking for a sponsorship, when he decided to do a tribute to the military.

When he found out the Air Guard had the lowest awareness rating in the military, he decided to wrap his car with the Air Guard logo for the Bristol Motor Speedway race in March, said Air Force Capt. Rondal Perry, division chief of marketing for the Air National Guard.

"With the Air Guard only having a 1 percent awareness rate in the entire U.S., getting any kind of message out there about the Air Guard, and what it can bring, is a great thing," said Perry.

The Air Guard had talked about sponsoring a race team in the past, and after Bristol those questions came up again. "It seemed like a good idea to investigate it further, and it turned out that Latitude 43 was the best investment [for us]," Perry said.

It's not just NASCAR fans that the Air Guard is hoping to reach with their marketing campaign, Perry said. They also hope to reach individuals in the community who see the fans out in public wearing Air Guard memorabilia.

As fans trickle out into the public creating awareness, the Air Guard plans to beef up their presence at sponsored races to create further interest.

"There will be a recruiting booth, and times when the car will be out there and the driver to sign autographs and do interviews," said Perry said.

However, the Air Guard does not plan to stop there. "The week before [a race], we'll be out at schools or different events occurring locally to be able to raise awareness and generate leads with our recruiting staff there,"
said Perry.

"Partnering with NASCAR is a great opportunity for us to get our message out there," he said, "and to let the public know that the Air Guard exists and that we have great opportunities for people.

"We're looking forward to seeing how this is really going to open a lot of
horizons that were not necessarily there before."

In addition to the Sonoma race, the new number 26 car will be wrapped with Air Guard advertising for races in Indianapolis, Ind., Talladega, Ala., Louden, N.H., and Richmond, Va.

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