NASCAR, partners plan up to 500 branded campgrounds

Fri Dec 18, 2009 3:10pm EST
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By Ben Klayman

CHICAGO (Reuters) - NASCAR plans to roll out up to 500 branded campgrounds in the United States in a move to build consumer loyalty to the U.S. auto racing circuit and attract a new generation of fans.

The sports organization, known for its three stock car and pickup truck racing series, said on Friday it is teaming with Morgan RV Resorts and real estate investor and developer Silver Companies to open 13 locations this spring. The goal is to expand over the next decade.

"The NASCAR fan is an avid camper. Some numbers have put it over 60 percent are RVers. It's a perfect fit," Robert Moser, chief executive of NASCAR RV Resorts and co-owner of Morgan RV resorts, said in a telephone interview. "When you drive through our properties, you see that there's avid NASCAR fans.

"It's going to be a lot bigger for NASCAR than everybody's thinking right now," he added, saying the new facilities would introduce the sport to millions of consumers. "NASCAR and camping, you can't get more American than that."

Morgan RV Resorts, the largest private owner and operator of recreational vehicle facilities in the country, also sees this as a way to stand out in the $5 billion campground industry, he said. About 30 million Americans go camping every year, according to the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is a licensing agreement under which the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing would get a royalty.

NASCAR, with an estimated 75 million fans, is one of the most popular U.S. sports, but it has been hurt by the recession as consumers cut back on attending races and companies reduce their sponsorship spending with race teams.

The RV sector also has felt the pain as U.S. motorhome makers saw demand for their vehicles evaporate as a result of the weak economy and related credit crunch. Still, Winnebago Industries Inc said on Thursday that demand for its biggest motorhomes showed signs of life.   Continued...

<p>Spectators watch from the roof of a truck in the infield as drivers streak past during the Ford 400 NASCAR race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida November 22, 2009. REUTERS/Hans Deryk</p>