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Daytona 500 by any other name? Unlikely

Believe it or not, there was a time not too long ago when the Daytona 500 had a presenting sponsor. From 1991 to 1993, the race was known as the Daytona 500 by STP.

Believe it or not, there was a time not too long ago when the Daytona 500 had a presenting sponsor. From 1991 to 1993, the race was known as the Daytona 500 by STP.

Sacrilege? Not exactly, the best Richard Petty can recall.

"There wasn't a real big deal because of the way they did it," said Petty, whose iconic No. 43 also was sponsored by STP. "It wasn't a sponsor's name on the 500, it came after the 500, so not as much was made of it.

"The reason they quit was that it just got too expensive for STP and I don't think Daytona wanted to keep changing it every year because of the way it might dilute the brand."

To this day, the Daytona 500 remains the only NASCAR race whose title is not for sale. In a sport where everything is believed to be for sale for the right price, officials at International Speedway Corp., owners of Daytona International Speedway, can't envision a day when a title sponsorship will be sold for the sport's most famous race.

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"You never say never, but it'd have to be a very compelling reason to even entertain that idea," said Daryl Wolfe, ISC's chief marketing officer. "And it's hard to contemplate what that compelling reason would be. I don't think we'd do anything to erode all of the equity that's built up in the Daytona 500 brand."

As for what a title sponsorship to the Daytona 500 might go for, someindustry experts guess about twice that of a typical title sponsorship, which normally sells for the low seven figures a year. But there's also the potential for pushback from companies that might be concerned over negative fan reaction.

"The Daytona 500 is large enough and prestigious enough that it stands on its own," said John Graham, ISC's vice president of business affairs and former Daytona track president. "The name of the race stands alone."

Although a title sponsorship to the Daytona 500 isn't for sale, ISC did sell the next best thing, a title sponsorship to Speedweeks, the name that stands for the stretch of races at Daytona leading up to and including the 500.

A year ago, ISC entered uncharted territory by selling title rights to Speedweeks for the first time to DirecTV, which bought the sponsorship for the high six figures per year as part of a three-year deal, industry insiders say. The new partnership proved to be perfect timing for DirecTV, which was launching its new HotPass service at Daytona.

The deal, negotiated by ISC's Tony Driscoll and Jon Flack from Just Marketing, DirecTV's agency, included logo rights, promotional rights, display space at the track, signage, tickets and hospitality, and the opportunity to demonstrate HotPass to fans at an on-site HotPass Zone.

"Speedweeks is an umbrella brand that is intrinsically tied to the Daytona 500 and other events and it's been around for a long time," Wolfe said.

"When you look at the events and the spike in fan interest at that time on the calendar, (the entitlement) was identified by the team here as an ownable asset that could be activated and leveraged. It was a unique opportunity for an overreaching position on several events."

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