NASCAR is more than just a car racing event. It's a subculture, and the audience of 6 million who tuned in to June's FedEx 400 is a testimony to its popularity. Marcus Lemonis, CEO of the RV company Camping World and star of the all-new CNBC Prime reality series, "The Profit," knows the value of having these fans in your corner.
"Everything for me is about business," Lemonis said in an interview. "When I looked at the potential for brand and grass-roots marketing in this, it was a no-brainer. Tailgating has a bigger presence in NASCAR than in any other sport."
His first foray into NASCAR sponsorship came in 2004, when he threw his company's money behind racer John Andretti. Three years later, he took it to the next level, and sponsored the Craftsman Truck Series, rechristening it the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
This move made Camping World one of the sport's top three sponsors, just behind Nationwide Insurance and Sprint. He credits the decision to sponsor NASCAR events with his company's expansion.
"I had 40 stores when I started, and today, I have 104," he said. "I attribute our integration into NASCAR as a major contributor. Another benefit that's somewhat intangible is NASCAR does amazing business-to-business opportunities. Our relationship with other sponsors and the opportunity to spend time with other Fortune 500 companies is probably, from a business standpoint, one of the other best reasons" for sponsorship.
By sponsoring NASCAR events, Lemonis joins the pantheon of businesses that have put their money behind the sport and its top drivers. But who are some of those drivers, and who has sponsored them? Read ahead to find out.
The Profit, a reality series with multimillionaire Marcus Lemonis turning around struggling companies, premieres on CNBC Prime on Tuesday, July 30, at 10 p.m ET/PT.