The unthinkable is happening to NASCAR: Its ubiquitous sponsors have begun heading for the exits, setting up the unheard-of prospect of fans glimpsing a bit of car beneath all the corporate logos. The economic downturn is partly to blame, but falling viewership numbers have also contributed to sponsors' newfound hesitancy to splash their names around the track, reports Advertising Age.
Though it added $150 million in sponsorship revenue last year, NASCAR doesn't expect another jump this year—worried whispers suggest it might even lose money. Kodak has realized that golf fans will shell out more, and other companies seem concerned about the drop in NASCAR fans' legendary brand loyalty. Troubled Detroit, which makes cars for 32 of 42 teams, is casting clouds over America's speedways as well.