Nashville Speedway / Ally 400 Sponsorship Announcement Transcript

We’re five months from NASCAR’s return to Nashville Superspeedway and Middle Tennessee, and less than one month from kicking off the season with the 2021 Daytona 500, so we know fans are anxious for any and all race track announcements and news.

ANNOUNCEMENT SPEAKERS: Erik Moses, Nashville Superspeedway President; Andrea Brimmer, Chief Marketing and Public Relations Officer, Ally

ANNOUNCEMENT HOST: Mike Bagley, Motor Racing Network and host, Sirius XM’s “The Morning Drive.”

MEDIA MEMBERS WHO ASKED QUESTIONS: Chris Estrada, NBC Sports; Mike Organ, The Tennessean; Ashley McCubbin, PopularSpeed.com; Cory Curtis, NBC-Nashville (WKRN); Steven Taranto, 24-7 Sports Nashville; Bob Pockrass, Fox Sports; Dan Gelston, Associated Press; Tatum Everett, Fox 17-Nashville.

VIDEO LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGNta48sDSc&feature=youtu.be

BAGLEY: Good afternoon!

This is Mike Bagley of the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM’s “The Morning Drive.”

We appreciate everyone joining us today for this exciting announcement.

We’re five months from NASCAR’s return to Nashville Superspeedway and Middle Tennessee, and less than one month from kicking off the season with the 2021 Daytona 500, so we know fans are anxious for any and all race track announcements and news.

Joining us today, first, is Erik Moses, president of Nashville Superspeedway. Erik, a longtime leader in sports, entertainment and business circles, was named Nashville’s president in August after serving as president of the XFL’s DC Defenders, where the team ranked among the league’s best in ticket sales, game-day experience and social-media engagement.

Also joining us is Andrea Brimmer, the chief marketing and public relations officer at Ally Financial. Andrea leads a team of 150 marketers, has guided Ally’s brand to double in value every year for the last three years and is a two-time “Marketer of the Year” honoree by the Financial Communication Society!

So, let’s get right to it. Erik, tell us about today’s announcement. What do you have for us?

MOSES: Thank you everyone for joining us on the call here. I wish we were doing this in person, but virtual is the way of the day these days and so we’re thankful that everyone took time out of their schedule to join us. And thank you, Mike. I would be remiss not to thank you, not only for being our emcee today but for all that you do to promote NASCAR and tracks throughout the country. You are a great ambassador for the sport and we appreciate all that you do.

Today, I’m really thrilled to be able to announce that the Nashville Superspeedway will host the “Ally 400” NASCAR Cup Series race on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 20. Ally Financial really is the perfect partner to help us to welcome Cup Series racing back to Nashville after nearly 40 years, and will be our entitlement partner of our Cup Series race for years to come and we’re super excited about that.

BAGLEY: That’s great news not only for Nashville but the sport as well. How important is it to link up with a committed partner like Ally while you are still preparing for the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series season at Nashville?

MOSES: Critically important. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have a partner like Ally, who has been a great friend not only to NASCAR but to Dover Motorsports and has a very prominent place as you well know in our sport with its sponsorship of Alex Bowman and the iconic No. 48 Chevrolet. The ability to be able to link our brand at Nashville Superspeedway with their well-known brand and well-respected business in our sport is just the right way to kick off our inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race, and really to help us launch the rebirth of this track.

We’re also pretty excited, Mike, to let everybody know that this will be the first time Ally comes in as an entitlement sponsor for a NASCAR Cup Series event. That’s a distinction we’re really happy to celebrate.

BAGLEY: Being a strong supporter of the Nashville community has been of great importance to you and your team Erik, and I know that’s critical to Ally as well and a big part of this partnership.

MOSES: Our values as companies are really strongly aligned. Ally’s support of the Nashville community, especially now in the wake of the terrible Christmas Day bombing downtown, was the critical component for both of us of this partnership. I’m sure Andrea will talk more about that later in our program.

I do want fans, however, to know a couple things about what they can expect in the lead up to the “Ally 400.” In particular, fans will have an opportunity to choose the paint scheme for Alex Bowman’s No. 48 Chevrolet. They can also win a VIP package to the Sunday, Father’s Day race and have the opportunity to have a virtual meet-and-greet with Alex Bowman. Fans should go to NashvilleSuperSpeedway.com/Ally400Sweepstakes to get all the details on that contest.

BAGLEY: That’s fantastic news. For all you media folks joining us today – we’re about to hear from Andrea but after our Q&A is done, if you have a question, if you could in the chat box,  type your name and we’ll call on you so you can ask Andrea and Erik questions both.

Let us bring in Andrea. Andrea, what more can you tell us regarding those community contributions and the importance of being, how you say, an “Ally” to the fans and residents of Middle Tennessee?

BRIMMER: Yeah, I think Erik said it really well when he said our brand values align. I think the opportunity for us to come in and to do something really special for the community was what really attracted us to this entitlement. Right out of the gate, we’re making a $50,000 donation that is going to be split equally between the Box 55 Association and the Urban League of Middle Tennessee. We think this is an incredible way to be able to come in and make an immediate impact.

It’s really keeping with things we’ve done around our NASCAR sponsorship, which is every community that we go to to try do something that goes beyond the day of the race. We think they are both wonderful organizations. Box 55 provides on-site support to first responders like those who showed up to the Christmas Day bombing and the Urban League of Middle Tennessee does a number of wonderful things for the local community. So, we’re really excited for the opportunity to come in and do this.

BAGLEY: This also has to be an exciting moment for Ally to be the title sponsor entitlement partner of a NASCAR Cup Series race for the very first time. Why was that important for Ally and why was it important to be in the Nashville market?

BRIMMER: We were so excited about this opportunity. We entered the sport three years ago through our partnership with Hendrick Motorsports and we have been so thrilled with how we’ve been embraced by the fan base, by NASCAR and the racing community. We really wanted to embed ourselves even further into NASCAR and the entitlement of a race was always something that was on our radar. It was a wonderful opportunity. When the opportunity came up in Nashville – it’s such a great town. It’s amazing to have a race back there after all of these years, the track is going to be unreal, Erik and his team have been a blast to work with. It fit right in with what we like to do with coming in and being disruptive and doing some interesting things. We think there’s a great opportunity for creativity. It’s going to be a lot of fun for the fans to help pick Alex’s car for the race. It just was a perfect fit for us. Plus, I can never think of what to get my husband for Father’s Day so what better than to get to go to Nashville for a race so now I never have to worry about that problem.

BAGLEY: It’s going to be a great weekend. We can’t wait to get back to Nashville for the Ally 400. Let’s turn it over to media folks with questions. First up, Chris Estrada from NBC Sports. Chris, what do you have.

ESTRADA: Thanks for having us. This is a question for Erik. I wanted to ask for a progress report on any upgrades to the track. When this race was announced in June, it was mentioned about potential places for SAFER barriers, infrastructure replacements and portable seating. Do you have a progress report on that front?

MOSES: Yeah Chris, all of that is ongoing. As I look out my window here at the track I see trucks going back and forth around here daily. We have already done a repaving of our apron and our infield road course here. We are in the process of upgrading and renovating our infield care center as well as our media center and starting to work on renovations of our luxury suite complex. There are many other things, including a big Wi-Fi and fiber installation that will be ongoing, but most of those projects are already underway and will continue as we march toward Father’s Day weekend.

BAGLEY: Mike Organ from The Tennessean. You’re up next Mike, hello.

ORGAN: Hello. Hey Erik, in your list of priorities where was landing a presenting sponsor? At what point in your short tenure did you start on this? As early as August I would think?

MOSES: Hi Mike. If there’s a number higher than one, in terms of priorities, that’s where this would have been. It’s vitally important, not only from a financial standpoint, but much more from the alignment of the right brand with this big event. It’s hard to believe there has not been Cup racing in Middle Tennessee for almost four decades and we’re privileged and excited to bring that back. Having a really strong partner like Ally that is so well known and well respected in our sport is like a marriage made in heaven. It was a pretty important priority for us.

In addition, we’re fortunate that Ally had a relationship with Dover Motorsports with our track in Dover, Delaware – the Monster Mile. Those conversations and that relationship was mined pretty quickly after we announced we were re-opening this track and that led us to the announcement today.

BAGLEY: Thank you, Mike. Next up Ashley, what is your question?

MCCUBBIN: For Erik to start off, what are your thoughts on being able to bring NASCAR back to Nashville and hosting a race there?

MOSES: I view it as a really big responsibility but one we’re happy to have the opportunity to execute on. This community at large loves racing, loves NASCAR and has a rich history of it. We’re just so excited to be part of the present of NASCAR racing in Middle Tennessee but certainly part of the future.

MCCUBBIN: And then for Andrea, what was it about NASCAR that made Ally want to get into the sport?

BRIMMER: There were a number of things. One, to have the opportunity to sponsor the iconic No. 48 car and to be with an athlete at the time like Jimmie Johnson was absolutely incredible. Now, to transition to one of the brightest young stars in racing with Alex Bowman is an awesome opportunity for us. Second, a lot of the values align to the values of Ally. From our standpoint, we’re looking for those kind of sponsorships where we can be a with a league that’s as well run as NASCAR and where we can partner with people that have the same values that we do on around giving back and community. Third, it’s just the excitement of the sport. I think it’s a sport that’s absolutely on the rise. To be able to intersect that cultural moment of the rise of NASCAR, it all made it an attractive proposition.

MCCUBBIN: Thank you.

BRIMMER: You got it Ashley.

BAGLEY: Thank you Ashley. Andrea, I’m curious, when you talk about how you got in, your footprint is getting bigger in this sport. Is that by design or is that an opportunity that just came up that you jumped on.

BRIMMER: It was always our design to have the footprint expand. An entitlement of a race was always on the road map. We just wanted to be very deliberate about it. It needed to be the right race in the right place with the right partners. This was the combination of all those – it was the trifecta of what we were really looking for. We are big believers that we just don’t smack our name on something. If we’re going to get into something as big as a sponsorship of NASCAR, we’re going to truly try to do things that make a difference and provide value to the fans that separate us from others. That’s really what we tried to do for the past couple of years and this year is going to be no different. If you look at the totality of everything we’ve done, it’s very different from how other sponsors have entered the sport. This is the next chapter in the book we’re trying to write around what we want to do with NASCAR.

BAGLEY: That’s awesome. Cory Curtis News 2 in Nashville, you’re up next.

CURTIS: Thanks. Just wanted to ask Erik, obviously fan attendance is a huge part of the success with this event and a huge part of your success with the partnership with Ally. With the rollout of the vaccine and the new administration’s quest for 100 million vaccines in 100 days, how optimistic are you for a big number in the stands and being allowed to have a big number in the stands on that Father’s Day weekend.

MOSES: That’s a great question Cory. I count myself as a generally optimistic person. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed and prayers up that we’ll be on the other side of this virus come June of this year. I think as a live event planner, and someone who has been in this business for a while, you always have a Plan B and a contingency. We’ll make certain that we have that so we can create the right environment to keep our fans, staff, drivers and all of our attendees safe come June.

BAGLEY: Next up is Steven from 24-7 Sports.

TARANTO: Question for Erik. Erik, in the original iteration of racing at Nashville Superspeedway, the long standing tradition was for the winner to get a Gibson guitar as a trophy. Do you intend to continue that tradition?

MOSES: Steve, I can’t tell you all of our secrets in one day. We have to break a little news at a time to keep you guys coming back. In all seriousness, I am well aware of that tradition. I think it’s a great one. The fact that those guitars were painted by Sam Bass, who is no longer with us, really puts them in a special place. We have not yet announced or decided what our trophy is going to be but it will be special I assure you. We certainly do continue to cherish that Gibson guitar tradition. That’s about all I can say about it right now but stay tuned.

BAGLEY: Here he is. Bob Pockrass, you’re up.

POCKRASS: Thank you. First for Erik, along the lines of the attendance question, do you have the option to bring in some portable grandstands if you need to do significant social distancing and/or have you started working with consultants at all on having a full section of people who are vaccinated separate from sections of people who are not.

MOSES: On your latter question, while I’ve had some informal conversations with people in the live events business about those kinds of COVID protocol ideas – whether people that have been vaccinated could get access to certain areas versus those that haven’t – no decisions have been made with respect to that. We do have a full plan already in place to add up to an additional 15,000 temporary grandstands to take our total to close to 40,000 in terms of our capacity if we’re allowed to do so.

POCKRASS: For Andrea, a lot of sponsors are concerned or a little hesitant to do something new because you still don’t know what the environment will be this year. I’m curious what made this the right thing at the right time even if you know you may not be able to have a full crowd and you may not be able to interact with people as much as you can years down the road.

BRIMMER: Yeah, we don’t expect this will be the environment forever. We’re playing the long game here first of all. Second of all, I think we were really successful this year to find creative work-arounds even in the absence of live events, regardless of the sponsorship we were a part of whether it was NASCAR or PGA or anything else that we sponsor and I think this will be no different. In the initial conversations that we’ve had with Erik and his team, we’re both committed to doing whatever we need to do to activate this in the right way. If that means we have to do things virtually, if that means we have to do things that are a little bit more disruptive we’ll do that until we get to the second year or third year or the out years of this relationship when we can have live events. Regardless, the media for us is great, having our name on the race is great and everything that will come from that will definitely pay dividends regardless whether there can be live fans there or not.

POCKRASS: Thank you very much

BRIMMER: For sure.

BAGLEY: Thank you Bob. Dan, you’re next.

GELSTON: Hey, how’s it going Erik. I have two questions for you. The first one is, you said there are tickets for sale, how many have you sold so far? What’s been the reaction to the event?

MOSES: Very strong, Dan. As you may know, we had a pre-sale list of reservations that we’ve been collecting ever since we made the announcement. It was a very strong list. We’ve spent the last two weeks converting those reservations to ticket sales. Today, I don’t know how I haven’t said this already, today was the start of sales to the general public.  Through the last two weeks, things have been very strong. We’ve been pleased and we want to run through the finish line. Anyone who hasn’t bought a ticket that’s listening to us get one now because they are going fast.

GELSTON: The other question is, you guys haven’t even had your first race and there’s already a renewed push to bring racing to the Fairgrounds. How do you feel about that and can Nashville handle two Cup races at two different tracks?

MOSES: I’m really focused on what we have going on out here at the Superspeedway. I will tell you, if any fans in the country deserve more Cup Series racing, it’s the fans in Middle Tennessee. My view is a rising tide raises all boats. We’re going to put on a great show out here with our partners at Ally and make sure people want to come back to the Ally 400 year over year. If there’s more Cup Series racing in the marketplace, then that’s good for fans and good for our sport.

BAGLEY: Thank you Dan. Next up, Tatum from Fox-17. Hello Tatum.

EVERETT: Hello guys. This could be a question for both of you. How long have you talked about this partnership? You were talking about the future a second ago. Have you agreed upon a time frame?

BRIMMER: 2020 feels like it was four years long so it’s hard to put the number of months in perspective. Erik, four or five months we’ve been working through this and obviously getting ready for today. It’s a multi-year deal. We don’t do anything for just one year. We commit to partnerships for a period of time so we can work through the first and second year and get to a sweet spot. We expect this will be a highly successful relationship for us. The more I hear Erik say the Ally 400 the better of a ring it has to me. It’s sounding pretty good right now.

MOSES: I agree one hundred percent. For an inaugural race and having the privilege to bring back Cup Series racing to Middle Tennessee for the first time in 37 years, it’s critically important that you have the right partner to help you lead that charge. I have no doubts that Ally is that right partner. They see this  the same way we do, from investing in the community to making certain that we’re active in the promotion of this race. To Andrea’s point, we’re thinking long term and we’re thinking about making this race and this NASCAR weekend better every single year that we host it and looking for ways to not only meet expectations of our fans but exceed those expectations.

BAGLEY: Folks, thanks for joining us. We appreciate you checking in with us for the exciting news that Nashville Superspeedway and Ally are coming together for the Ally 400 on Father’s Day Weekend, 2021. Hope to see everyone there. Again, thanks for joining us today.

MOSES: Thanks everyone.

BRIMMER: Thanks everyone.

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