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One sector that tends to be little associated with sports sponsorships is education and training.

This is because technically in Europe most schools and universities are public. Private or specialized institutions choose to exploit other channels to reach their target. There are obviously exceptions and they mainly concern campuses or vertical structures in the sector: mechanical schools, engineering applied to motorsport, degree courses in marketing applied to sport.

Motorsport USA and University

Overseas this trend is absolutely reversed due to the very nature of the type of training offered. In fact, there are numerous private faculties and among them we find a series of cases of promotion campaigns also entrusted to a presence in motorsport. There is no shortage of examples and they involve a good part of the country's states. The sporting commitment of US universities is well known and forms a specific process for athletes which differs quite markedly from the European one and beyond. However, while for "traditional" sports such as basketball, football, baseball and others it is the universities that have the spaces and equipment necessary for activity and training, as far as sponsorships are concerned, a question of notoriety and reputation prevails. The choice of an investment initiative in a team or a driver often focuses on a territorial logic: the university purchases a title sponsorship on the occasion of the race(s) which concern the state in which it is located or in the closest areas and which they could attract new members.

In specific cases it is the pilot himself who has a connection with the faculty, which invests in his figure as a testimonial: not infrequently the latter will combine the competitive path with a training process within that reality. The varied sporting offer that universities offer often leads to cross-disciplinary initiatives in which the visibility offered by the motorsport event is exploited to highlight the results or the level of the other athletic sectors of the campuses. All this to broaden the possible user base and integrate the respective audiences into a broader panorama.

Some championships, above all NASCAR, follow this dynamic with interest and indeed support it for a multiple purpose:

  1. increase demographic and generational diversity and inclusiveness by trying to attract ranks of possible new fans and spectators among the youngest
  2. help teams find investors in a sector that tends to be less explored but boasts numerous supports and collaborations
  3. create industrial and commercial synergies thanks to a "product" more in line with contemporary trends
  4. collaborate with organizations and companies to strengthen a network that presents common objectives
  5. make its technical and communication apparatus available to the structures as an experiential area of ​​advanced learning
  6. increase its reputation as an interlocutor and intermediary in commercial and industrial processes.

Let's now look at a series of examples to understand how these purposes have been exploited and how they are part of the commercial and sporting strategies of different realities.

  • The identification between testimonial and product is one of the most successful prerogatives in terms of communication and reputation creation. In this case the protagonist company chose to support a figure who could underline the corporate spirit better than any other. Reskills it is in fact a company that provides online training to all those who wish to acquire new knowledge. The main sector is that of the change of job with the set of new professional skills to be learned for the purposes of their correct performance. To make this service known to the general public, the choice fell on Frankie Muniz, a former Emmy Award-winning actor. Always passionate and a part time runner, he decided to abandon the world of acting to become a professional pilot.
  • Already starting from the end of the nineties - 1996, 1999, 2001 - the driver Sterling Marlin drove cars that featured the iconic white-orange color of the University of Tennessee. The occasion was always the stop in Bristol, the home circuit of the institute and Marlin's home state.
  • NC State, a university in North Carolina, was among the first to appear on a NASCAR car. It was 1995 and the car was Johnny Chapman's. In more recent times the university supported the competitive path of one of its student and driver, Harrison Rhodes, in the Xfinity Series. In the same years, 1994,1996,1996, 2005, Florida State University created partnerships to increase the popularity of its football team, the Seminoles. The first protagonist was Jeff McLure in the preparatory series ARCA, followed by Tim Fedewa and Scott Riggs.
  • In 2019 University of Richmond sponsored the Starcom Racing car driven by Landon Cassill at the event held at Richmond Raceway. The initiative was possible thanks to the contribution of Superior Essex, a long-time partner and supplier of telecommunications infrastructure for the faculty. The car was displayed on campus and the driver took part in meetings with students while the livery was the work of the university's web designer.
  • The University of Northwestern Ohio – abbreviated UNOH – provides one of the most in-depth competitive programs in motorsports. In the different courses, students can delve into all the most specific aspects of automotive technology and mechanics: from engines to transmissions, up to fuel experiments. To prepare future members of racing teams and research and development teams, UNOH has its own team in which students participate in acceleration races in various classes.
  • La Purdue university of indianapolis is one of the very few faculties to present courses directly aimed at creating high profile figures in the motor sports sector. To strengthen this positioning, it sponsors the car with which Helio Castroneves - multiple winner of the Indianapolis 500 and true legend of the sport - in the SRX category, Superstar Racing Experience. In 2023 it also collaborated with the Stewart Haas Racing Team by sponsoring the number 4 car with which Ryan Preece took part in the 200 miles on the iconic Indiana basin.
  • In some cases a college may not only partner with a team but also with other investors involved in the sports campaign. An example of this is the synergy between University of Michigan and Axalta with Hendrick Motorsports. Axalta, a brand that develops products for painting and coatings, has in fact supported economics and engineering students in the development of dedicated projects. The livery of the car that raced in 2016 at the Michigan International Speedway wore a yellow and blue livery to establish this relationship. This wasn't the only collaboration Axalta and Hendrick have undertaken on student engagement. In fact, in the same year Jeff Gordon wore the colors of the team on his number 24 Penn State University. The agreement provided for the presence of as many as 100 students from the University of Pennsylvania on the track during the Pocono race weekend. The idea was to allow them, coming from the so-called "STEM" - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics - and economic sectors, to follow the various professionals of the team at work during all the planned operations. Being then the CEO of Axalta a former student and former president of Texas A & M University, in 2014 he involved his former university in a partnership starring Jeff Gordon and the Hendrick Motorsport team. A synergy that allowed some selected students to take part in the race weekend on the Texas Motor Speedway circuit as well as a series of events on campus dedicated to the entire student body. All at no additional cost to the institute.
  • Remaining Texas another structure, the Texas Tech University, made its appearance on the Go Green Racing car during the race at the Texas Motor Speedway in 2015. In this case the necessary budget was the result of a fundraiser among former students of the faculty to support sports activities on campus.
  • Liberty University has been following the driver William Byron since his racing debut way back in 2014. Since 2018 Byron has raced in the top NASCAR series and since then the faculty has sponsored at least 12 races per season (out of a total of 36). The 2021 contractual extension provides for the maintenance of this formula until 2026. Byron is pursuing a degree course in strategic communication within the university. For his part, Hendrick Motorsports, the team for which Byron races, reciprocates the support obtained by providing know-how and energy to Liberty's School of Engineering in the development of technologies for electric cars and a commercial management course in the automotive field.
Liberty University liveries 2020-2024

Liberty University liveries 2020-2024

  • A similar dynamic is the one involving the pilot Brandon Brown, who graduated in communications from the Coastal Carolina University. The university has decided to support its student for several consecutive years, usually on the occasion of the Darlington race, the closest in territorial matters but also with smaller spaces in other events.
  • The good heart (and wallet) of the father of one of the students at the University of the South, known as Sewanee, allowed the university to enjoy the exposure resulting from the presence of BK Racing's Matt DiBenedetto in the car at the 2016 race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. The previous year Di Benedetto himself had raced a car sponsored by James MadisonUniversity.
  • In 2018 Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania sponsored the StarCom Racing car for the 2 races that were held on the state's tri-oval. The protagonist cars were the 00 and the 99, driven by Landon Cassill. On both occasions the association of former students of the structure was present on the track to welcome curious and potential interested parties.
  • Virginia State University e Winston Salem State University they combined their efforts for a very particular cause on a topic that is still relevant in the United States. The two faculties are in fact part of the group of HBCUs - Historically black colleges and universities, i.e. historically African-American universities. In order to promote the sporting and social progress of their members, the 2 companies sponsored in 2022 the debut of a second-year member of Winston Salem State University, the then twenty-year-old Rajah Caruth, in the Nascar cadet series - the Xfinity Series – right on the Richmond circuit in Virginia. At that time Caruth was only the third black driver ever to appear in the series. For the occasion, his Chevrolet Camaro from the Alpha Prime Racing team wore the colors of VSU.
  • In 2023 Rajah Caruth was at the center of another synergy: that between the New College Institute and the Wendell Scott Foundation. The collaboration between this state structure and the foundation created in honor of the first African-American driver to win a race in the top NASCAR category is aimed at guaranteeing educational and sporting opportunities for the most deserving students and athletes. His truck wore the logos of NCU and its “Camp Cultivation” program at the Richmond race.
  • Supporting diversity and inclusion is a purpose that the organization shares with many of the brands committed to supporting the actors of the series. in 2021 FedEx, the recognized logistics company, presented a special livery for the Daytona race. The “Shaping Black Futures” campaign highlighted support for some major HBCUs. The writing stood out on the front hood while on the tail of the Toyota Camry there were the logos of 4 institutions: Jackson State University, Tennessee State University, Mississippi Valley State University and LeMoyne-Owen College. FedEx used the media exposure of the race to reinforce its historic support for African-American students by confirming a new investment of $5 million in specific programs.
  • Remaining in the HBCU sector, another reality, the Grambling State University, made its appearance in style for the first race of the 2022 NASCAR season, the Daytona 500. Car number 44 of the NY Racing Team wore an intriguing black-gold tiger livery with the "G" and the university insignia clearly visible. Sponsors also include HBCU League Pass Plus, a streaming network that broadcasts sports content from African-American universities. The owner of Team NY himself is a former Grambling student and as an African American he is fully committed to promoting demographic expansion and the representation of diversity within the championship. What happened with the faculty belonging to the Louisiana state university network was soon repeated with another structure, Stillman College in Alabama. Stillman has in fact signed a partnership with the Urban Edge Network, a partner company of the NY Racing Team thanks to which the faculty's events are included in those covered by the HBCU League Pass Plus broadcast. The partnership with the Florida A&M University, abbreviated “FAMU”, whose livery characterized the Las Vegas race on March 6, 2022. The last of this series of collaborations was the Morehouse College, the largest African-American men's university in the entire United States. A way to bring together two excellences in their respective sectors - NASCAR in sport and Morehouse in education - to expand their respective catchment areas. Car number 44 with the Red-White-Black tricolor and the iconic “M” on the hood took part in the Talladega race.
NY Racing Team HBCU liveries

NY Racing Team HBCU liveries

  • Sometimes sponsorship can be useful in communicating a specific project. This is what he did Colorado State University – CSU – alongside Stewart Haas Racing in 2019. Clint Bowyer's car number 14 featured a white-green livery with the One Cure logo clearly visible, the name and philosophy under which the CSU Animal Cancer Center operates. As the name suggests, this center deals with the assistance and research of cures for animals suffering from these pathologies. In fact, the coloring also featured photos of two dogs who went through a treatment process. The spirit of the sponsorship was the race towards a cure.
  • THEIvy Tech Community College is one of the most important institutes in the state of Indiana and in 2014 it sponsored the car of rookie Sage Karam of Team Ganassi during the Indianapolis 500. The university has an Automotive Technology Center where students can perfect themselves in a course of study focused on motorsport.
  • It was 2011 when the Bradley University sponsored the Max Q Motorsports car for the “home” event at Chicagoland Speedway. The university is in fact located in Illinois and the collaboration envisaged that 20 selected students could support the team in its operations on the track in order to gain experience in a real and challenging work scenario.

Another rather common dynamic in the stars and stripes motoring panorama is interdisciplinary support.

College competitive divisions, be they basketball, soccer, football or otherwise, use the exposure that comes from being heavily featured in a race car to expand their notoriety. These initiatives often take place on the occasion of the winning of championships or trophies to seal such successes.

  • This is the case of the Clemson University for winning the 2015 college football championship: the team benefiting from the operation was Rick Ware Racing and the track was Pocono. Clemson also sponsored Cody Ware's car in 2017 in 2 events to celebrate the championship won also in 2016. The same team then repeated a similar dynamic in 2017 with the East carolina university and his Pirates at both the Dover and Indianapolis tracks.
  • Kyle Busch "wore" the colors of Appalachian State University both in 2019 and 2020, first in the Cup Series and then in the Xfinity Series, where he also won the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, in North Carolina, home of the University. Among the reasons that allowed the synergy to occur was the fact that the nephew of team owner Joe Gibbs was a student and a player on the App State football team at the time.
  • In 2013, Michael Waltrip Racing proposed the brand celebrating Florida State University's victory in the national football championships on Brian Vickers' Toyota Camry. The same team did the same with the University of Alabama and their team Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) winners.
  • The presence of former students or faculty members among the top figures of a team often represents a bridge through which to establish the synergies that we are analyzing in this article. For example, Team BK sports counts among its owners Ron Devine, former member of the internal committee of James MadisonUniversity: this and other factors of mutual interest made it possible to have a car entirely distinguished by the purple and gold of the JMU at the start of the 2015 Richmond race.
  • Already in 2002 the University of Kansas had decorated Casey Mears' entire car with the insignia and the large symbol of his team, the Jayhaws, on the hood.
  • THEUniversity of South Carolina used the motorsports channel to promote its virtual campus, Carolina Online. The sponsorship concerned the Parreta Autosport car driven by Simona de Silvestro at the 500 Indianapolis 2021. This initiative also sealed the long-term agreement between the faculty and the NTT Indycar Series of which it became the official partner for the university education. The commitment to extend the high-level training offer as much as possible was associated with the desire to offer greater opportunities to women in a predominantly male sport. This was possible by linking up with a female-led team, with a female driver and a technical staff made up largely of girls. A few years earlier the same university had linked up with Bolen Motorsport, a team led by one of its former students, to support its men's and women's teams competing in the final stages of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Ross Chastain's truck bore the eye-catching Gamecock insignia, the name of the university's teams.
  • In 2013 Jamie McMurray ran (and won) the race in Talladega, Alabama, wearing the logo of the Auburn University. The partnership was accompanied by the logo of Cessna, sponsor of Team Ganassi that season and a company involved in collaborations with the local university. In the same year and on the same circuit – but in the first of the two annual races, held in the spring – Michael Waltrip brought to the race a Toyota with a commemorative livery of the victory of the BSC championship by the University of Alabama. This is also thanks to the fact that main sponsor Aaron's has been a long-time investor in the team and the faculty's athletic program. Curiously, the same initiative had taken place the previous year due to the two consecutive successes of the Crimson Tide team. 2013 also saw the appearance of the logo University of Louisville and his Cardinals, winners of the men's college basketball championship
  • In more recent times (2023) the University of Alabama was the protagonist of a truly particular program: NASCAR itself decided to pay the faculty's sports department to become a sponsor of the series. This is because, according to an in-depth study, the two annual races held in the state generate a turnover of as much as 420 million dollars. The collaboration with one of the most important local teams, widely followed in the university football scene, has allowed the motorsport organization to enter numerous channels in order to further extend its range of action.
  • There are those who have even created a real team to allow their graduates to put into practice all the theories covered during their study courses. Let's talk about University of Wolverhampton whose UWR – University of Wolverhampton Racing – is busy on multiple fronts with dozens of young technicians involved. Formula 3, Formula 2000 and the Morgans of the official single-make brand of the English company are some of the fronts on which this entity is involved.
  • the so-called Alumni, or former students of university courses, often maintain a strong bond with the structures that trained them, through associations and foundations. however, the case of KSDT goes further. This accounting company which employs almost 150 people was in fact born from the initials of the founders, Kabat, Schertzer, De La Torre, Taraboulos: in honor of their past in 2019 they decided to sponsor the car of Garrett Smithley of JD Motorsports for the final race of the Xfinity Series, at the Homestead circuit in Miami. In addition to the logo of their company, the FIU trademarks were clearly visible .
  • In 2018 the Rooster Hall Racing Team embarked on a collaboration with the West virginia university to promote an active path of involvement of the most deserving students in the technical activities on the track. That is, it was made possible through a donation program with which families supported the university's sporting activities in the Formula SAE. The BMW M235iR then contested the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car season under the faculty's banner. The history of this University in the world of motoring, however, does not stop here: from 2014 to 2016, in fact, Travis Braden raced with the characteristic yellow-blue livery in the Arca Series, one of the minor NASCAR championships.
  • Remaining in Virginia, this time there Virginia Tech University in 2016 it entered into an agreement with Wood Brothers Racing to promote its Virginia Tech Athletics Department. The joint venture aims to enhance both the training and sports programmes. Again the Wood brothers enjoyed friendly relationships with some of the coaches within the faculty and the daughter of one of the owners was a student. Ryan Blaney's No. 21 Ford wore the university's insignia at the Bristol and Martinsville events.
  • In 2015 a benefactor supported the presence of the Louisiana Tech University aboard the Roulo Brothers Racing team car in the Arca Championship. His goal: to bring further notoriety to the state institution.
  • The Oregon Ducks, the team of the University of the same name, dressed a NASCAR car in 2003 and 2012 with their typical yellow-green combination.

Offline and Online

Even online, university exposure doesn't stop. In fact, NASCAR started a real online championship dedicated to the university e-sports sector a few years ago. The name of this project is NASCAR College iRacing Series and takes advantage of the collaboration with the largest university e-sports organization in North America, NACE Starleague (National Association of Collegiate Esports). Providing support for the initiative are Xfinity, Coca-Cola, Logitech, Playseat and Southern Computer Warehouse. Based on a 4-race tournament, it aims to further expand the popularity of motorsport among students across the country, giving tens of thousands of aspiring virtual drivers the opportunity to experience racing and connect with this world.

Great interest has been generated around the series and what makes it even more attractive is the fact that the participants develop dedicated liveries with the colors of their university: the races, which can be followed directly from the organisation's main website, therefore become exciting challenges among dozens of vehicles each characterized by the colours, logos and mascots of the main US universities.

Formula SAE and Formula Student

It must be said that universities themselves use competitions as an experimental area to work on technologies and offer students real environments in which to test ideas and skills. In this regard, the so-called Formula SAE has been active since 1981 (since the Society of Automotive Engineers was established) which, starting from Germany, was then renamed Formula Student with a series of local variations. The underlying idea is that each university (there are 700 registered worldwide) must develop a competitive program that ranges between design, construction, sporting and economic management, presentation and promotion of a racing car so that each teaching area is involved in the process.

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