Allstate Corp. said Monday it is ending its sponsorship of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard after five years as the lead sponsor of the race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Northbrook, Ill.-based insurance company announced a day after this year's race that it would not renew the sponsorship, which began in 2005, when its contract expires at the end of the year.
Sunday's race, which was won by Jimmie Johnson, saw large pockets of empty seats. While the speedway does not release attendance figures for its races, spokesman Ron Green said this year's turnout was "impacted immensely" by tire problems that plagued last year's race. He added that attendance has been down at nearly all other NASCAR races this year.
Allstate spokesman Raleigh Floyd said the company's decision to end its sponsorship was not motivated by the speedway's performance. Instead, he said it arose from the insurer's desire to expand its Olympics and college football sponsorships, which includes the Sugar Bowl.
"That property performed well, extremely well in fact. Race fans are the most loyal fans in sports, probably," Floyd said. "It just so happens that some of our other sponsorships perform a little better."
Floyd said Allstate hopes Chicago can succeed in its bid for the 2016 Olympics because the Summer Games would provide many sponsorship opportunities for the suburban Chicago company.
Speedway spokesman Ron Green said Allstate informed the speedway several months ago that it would end its sponsorship of the Brickyard after this year's race due primarily to the nation's struggling economy, but also because of Allstate's shifting marketing goals.
Green said track officials are disappointed but understand the decision in light of the economy.
"Companies have less money to spend on their marketing efforts. They were just reallocating how they're spending their marketing dollars. That's going on not only in motors sports but in all forms of entertainment," he said.
Faced with the struggling economy, the speedway slashed ticket prices along the backstretch _ from $75 to $45 _ to help make the race more affordable for cash-strapped fans.
Last year, the Goodyear tires used in during the race lasted only 10 to 12 laps before they needed replaced _ a situation that turned the race into a series of short sprints. There were no such problems in Sunday's race as Johnson edged Mark Martin for his third win at the Brickyard in four years.
Green said the Brickyard was a solid event for 11 years before Allstate signed on as sponsor, and the speedway is not aggressively looking for a new race sponsor.
"We're losing that revenue, that sponsorship and obviously you don't want that to happen, but does it impact the future of the speedway and Brickyard? Absolutely not," he said.