For Waltrip, fewer decals mean more exposure for backer

February 12, 1991|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Evening Sun Staff

Moving billboards, that's what Winston Cup cars have been called.

They are painted to reflect their sponsors' colors, and their front fenders are plastered with advertising stickers, with contingency sponsors' names placed "just so" to catch the roving eye.

No one is saying the overall look of racing is going to change, but the Pennzoil Pontiac driven by Michael Waltrip in the Daytona 500 Sunday will stand out in the crowd.

"We feel we're going to have the best-looking car out there," said car owner Chuck Rider. "The rationale behind this is to keep a clean, recognizable car."

Nearly every other race car will have most of the available 39 decals fighting for attention on the front quarter-panel.

Waltrip's car will have only six: Winston Cup, NASCAR, Champion, Simpson, All-Pro and Purolator.

"Pennzoil is paying multimillions of dollars to have their name on our rear quarter-panel," said Waltrip. "If they don't want those other stickers on the car, then I say let's do whatever we have to to take care of the people paying the bills."

Each of the 39 decals is the name of a sponsor. Teams post the decal and then win money awards from the sponsor if they finish in a payoff position.

For example, Right Guard pays $10,000 for leading at the halfway point, while Perfect Circle Valve Stem Seals pays amounts ranging from $500 to $100 for finishing first, second, third, fifth, 10th and 20th. If a car does not carry the companies' stickers, they do not pay off.

"We've informed NASCAR of what we're doing," said Rider. "We've not heard a word from them. As far as the money we'll lose by not carrying other stickers, Pennzoil has compensated us for the loss. I think given the disparity between a major sponsor and the contingency payoffs, you'll see more teams doing this."

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