Turning the air blue with tire smoke, Scott Steckly celebrates his fourth national championship in NASCAR racing at the Peterborough-area Kawartha Speedway last September. Starting in 2016, the series will be sponsored and promoted by Burlington food compabny Pinty's. Image: GARY GRANT / for the Toronto Star
Pinty’s Delicious Foods Inc. and NASCAR have signed a six-year agreement that will see the Burlington-based food company become the title sponsor of Canada’s national stock car racing series, the Star has learned.
Pinty’s replaces Canadian Tire, which was title sponsor of the NASCAR Canada series for the last nine years. Indications are that the new sponsor has great ambition and expectations for the late-model stock car series.
Details of the agreement will be made public Monday afternoon during a media conference where it will also be announced that the NASCAR Pinty’s Series will be part of the Honda Indy Toronto racing weekend for the next three years.
The Pinty’s race, which hasn’t been included in the Toronto IndyCar weekend since 2011, will headline activity at Exhibition Place on Sat., July 16, as part of the Honda Indy’s 30th anniversary celebration.
Pinty’s, an all-Canadian company founded in 1943, produces and provides a complete range of premium quality fresh and frozen chicken products to the retail and food service industry throughout Canada.
Pinty’s has been a contingency sponsor of the NASCAR Canada series since 2012 and was the presenting sponsor of three of the series’ 11 races in 2015.
“NASCAR is a global entity and we couldn’t be more excited to continue to grow this important series with the help of our new entitlement partner, Pinty’s,” said George Silbermann, Vice President, Regional and Touring Series, NASCAR.
“The NASCAR Pinty’s Series is the premier motorsports property in Canada, characterized by the unparalleled competition that defines NASCAR racing.”
Silbermann wasn’t exaggerating when he talked about the competition being unparalleled. This season, Scott Steckly of Milverton, Ont., edged Jason Hathaway of St. Thomas by just four points to capture his fourth series championship. It marked the third consecutive season that the title was decided by fewer than five points.
The series also saw an infusion of young talent in 2015, as 23-year-old Gary Klutt of Halton Hills won Rookie of the Year honours, second-generation driver Cayden Lapcevich of Grimsby made his series debut at age 15, and third-generation pilot, teenager Matthew Scannell of Milton, continued to turn heads following his rookie-of-the-year campaign in 2014.
“NASCAR and Pinty’s share a common goal of delivering the highest quality product,” said Tony Spiteri, Pinty’s senior vice president, marketing and research and development.
“Taking our involvement with NASCAR to the next level with this unique naming rights opportunity will further elevate the series and help make it more exciting and engaging for fans.”
Spiteri told the Star, in an exclusive interview from Las Vegas where he had attended NASAR Sprint Cup end-of-season celebrations, that the agreement was simply the right fit.
“We’re both family owned, we both started in the 1940s and we’re both premium brands. We both try to go above and beyond.”
Spiteri left no doubt that his company has big plans and big expectations for Canadian stock racing and racers. Anyone who thinks they’re in this as a lark had best take a look at the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling website, which features everything from feature stories about participants to live streaming of events.
“It’s very important for us to leverage the involvement of media with the tracks, NASCAR and the teams to develop and promote Canadian talent that’s exportable,” he said.
“People are coming up to me here (Vegas) to ask about Scott Steckly, D.J. Kennington and Andrew Ranger. There’s an awareness of these drivers and their talent. We have to work to get teams exposure. We have to tell their stories.”
He cited Pinty’s involvement in curling as being a win-win. “Teams are getting sponsorship, where they didn’t before, and we want to see that happen in racing.”
Silbermann said the agreement with Pinty’s is “a good deal for the series and a good deal for stock car racing,” particularly because the food company sees the value of sports marketing. And he said the contract to race at the Honda Indy is a big step up for the series.
“We have a great partner in Green-Savoree Racing Promotions (owner of the Honda Indy Toronto) in other areas so we couldn’t be more pleased” – a reference to a NASCAR Infinity Series race that is held at the Green-Savoree-owned Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The 2016 NASCAR Pinty’s Series season will take the green flag on Sun., May 22, as part of the traditional Victoria Day Speedfest weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
The complete schedule for 2016 will be announced at a later date, although it’s expected that the Pinty’s race will again be part of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at CTMP on Labour Day weekend.
Besides Steckly, Kennington and Ranger, the NASCAR Pinty’s Series will again attract some of Canada’s brightest stars, from IndyCar racer Alex Tagliani to Quebec road-racing standout L.P. Dumoulin.
Over the years, in which the series has raced more than 100 times on 17 different tracks in seven provinces, from British Columbia to Nova Scotia, drivers like Max Papis, Jacques Villeneuve and Austin Dillon have also competed.
Spiteri would like to see more of that, so the top Canadian talent can race against the best from elsewhere. “It’s good for driver development and great for the fans,” he said.
As in previous years, the series races will be seen live (on occasion) in 2016 as well as on tape delay on TSN as well as on its French-language sister network, RDS.
Source Norris Mcdonald, The Toronto Star
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