The number 24 NASCAR Sprint Cup car driven by Jeff Gordon with the DuPont logo splashed across the hood has been a staple during race weekends for more than twenty years. Now, the familiar paint scheme and logo will be a thing of the past. Well, actually the paint scheme may be very similar in 2013 to prior years but the DuPont logo will be gone.
Don’t worry race fans; Gordon has not lost his sponsor. DuPont’s paint business has been acquired by an investment firm that also holds Hertz Rental Car and Allison Transmission. The Carlyle Group has announced that will be re-branding the automotive paint business currently known as DuPont as Axalta Coating Systems.
According to the Carlyle group, the products, people and the business will remain the same as will its relationship as sponsors of the No. 24 Chevrolet car in the Hendrick Motorsports garage.
Let’s see how that sounds. Use your racing radio voice when you read the next line. “Here comes the Jeff Gordon No. 24 Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet down the back stretch.” Well, I guess it sounds okay, but I have to question the re-branding.
Why change a name that has instant brand recognition to consumers and race fans across the country? The sponsor relationship with Gordon began at the last race of the season in 1992 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Since then the program has won four NASCAR Cup Series championships and amassed a total of 87 wins. Now take into account all of the shirts, hats, coats, mugs and other retail items branded with the No. 24 and the familiar logo.
Wait a second. Is this a scheme to sell new shirts and ball caps at the track? Probably not; the truth is that a business decision has been made and a re-branding effort is taking place on a global corporate level. Race fans, and Gordon, should be happy that in this day and age a company realizes the value of sponsoring a NASCAR race team. “People and relationships are important to our organization,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “These are the same folks who have spent more than two decades executing one of the most successful sponsorship programs in sports.”
Gordon appreciates the sponsorship. “We may have a new name on the No. 24 Chevrolet SS in 2013, but it’s the same core group that I’ve enjoyed working with for more than 20 years,” Gordon said. “We’ve had success together on and off the track. We plan to carry that success into our third decade.”
I’m sure that representatives from Hendrick, Axalta, Carlyle and even Jeff Gordon will all sit down over some coffee and doughnuts and work things out for the upcoming 2013 season. In fact I know they will. The Carlyle Group also has Dunkin’ Donuts in its holdings.