We’re ducking serious: April Texas NASCAR race is the Duck Commander 500


Last year, the spring NASCAR weekend at Texas Motor Speedway was known as the NRA 500, and all that that entailed only four months after the Newtown tragedy at Sandy Hook.

In 2014, that controversial title sponsor is now gone.

So naturally, the replacement is Duck Commander, the brand of the best-selling duck calls and name of the thriving family-owned company led by the Robertson clan of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” fame.


So yes, this April 6 at TMS, get your duck whistles and duck faces ready for the Duck Commander 500. And do it for multiple years, since that’s the length of the contract. Or get the duck out of Texas.

TMS president Eddie Gossage, who’s never been short of a quote and is sometimes as outspoken as the cast of “Duck Dynasty,” had this to say of the new title sponsor:

“This is perhaps the most unique sponsorship in professional sports because not only does this come with special branding, it comes with celebrity spokespeople that are followed by tens of millions of people every week,” Gossage said. “Fans will see members of the Robertson Family and cast of Duck Dynasty and all the rest during Duck Commander 500 week here at Texas Motor Speedway and we have produced some awesome merchandise that both race fans and Duck Commander fans will love. This marriage is perfection.”

And the merchandise that this will spawn. Oh, the merchandise.

An extensive line of Duck Commander 500 merchandise will be sold at track and in the Speedway World souvenir store year-round. Meanwhile, Uncle Si’s Tea™ will be introduced and sold at track in single-serve options in both the sweet and unsweetened varieties. Texas Motor Speedway also will look to integrate products such as Duck Commander Family Foods’ BBQ sauce, salsa and beef jerky with the speedway signature concession items.

Here’s how Willie Robertson, the CEO of the company, introduced the announcement on Twitter:

Meanwhile, here’s how Indy Lights driver Kyle O’Gara responded, with a dig at NASCAR’s lack of speed at TMS in comparison to the IndyCar weekend there in June.

‘Game-changing’ multi-year agreement will take INDYCAR, NBC Sports ‘to the next level’

Photo: Chris Estrada, NBC Sports
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NEW YORK – As the fourth Nor’easter in three weeks bore down on the Big Apple, it was tough to spot people that were clearly in a good mood.

But Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, was clearly in a good mood.

On Wednesday morning at 10 am ET, we all found out why: NBC will become the exclusive home of the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, starting in 2019.

The new three-year deal not only makes “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” part of the network’s “Championship Season” – its collection of high-profile championship events from May to July – but also reaffirms NBC’s status as the home of motorsports television in the United States.

That status is something Miller doesn’t take for granted.

“It’s important people know that storytelling is in our DNA, and motorsports lends itself very well to storytelling,” Miller said as he, INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles and driver James Hinchcliffe made a snowy trek to the New York Stock Exchange to promote the deal on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

“We’ve had great success with the second half of the entire NASCAR season, and then we’ve had half of the IndyCar package [since 2009] … But we never had the real meat of the series and that didn’t set anybody up for success.

“Having the entire package of IndyCar now – all 17 races, qualifying, practice, you name it – really sets IndyCar on a strong path and solidifies NBC’s position as the home of motorsports. I think it becomes a property much like the Premier League, the NHL, and even the Olympics and the Triple Crown. We have 100 percent of the media opportunity and we can put all those great assets behind it.”

With the storm no doubt keeping some traders home, the floor of the NYSE was relatively subdued. But that made it no less important to be at the heart of Wall Street. Miles and his team are pursuing a new title sponsor for the IndyCar Series to replace Verizon, which will fully focus its efforts in the series with the powerhouse Team Penske going forward in 2019.

The new deal – which includes 8 races per year on the NBC network (with the remaining races going to NBCSN), live streaming of all races, and a direct-to-consumer package with NBC Sports Gold – gave Miles plenty to push for any potential backers. As for Hinchcliffe, he held his own nicely in an interview that also explored IndyCar’s global ambitions, the impact of technology on the sport, and of course, his spin around the ballroom on “Dancing with the Stars.”

On the ride back to 30 Rock, Miles was confident that NBC can play a big role in attracting a sponsor that can help the series keep growing.

“With respect to our work in finding the best title sponsor, it’s really important – and this has not been talked about much – but we expect to work with hand in glove with NBC’s sales,” he explained. “We have the opportunity to create packages which are both broadcast sponsorship and series sponsorship, I think, in a way that doesn’t come along very often.

“Usually, the media deal and the sponsorship deal doesn’t align like this, so we’re really excited about the offering we’ll have and the approach to the market we can take.”

Should the partnership with NBC bear fruit on that front and others, it will only add to the upswing that the IndyCar Series has had in recent years.

Hinchcliffe has been a witness to that. He entered the series in 2011, when it was trying to find its footing after the sport’s reunification three years earlier. After 13 years of CART vs. the Indy Racing League, getting everything back under one roof was not a smooth process.

But fast-forward seven years, and things have changed for the better. TV ratings and digital viewers have gone up. Race scheduling has become more stable and enhanced with the return of traditional open-wheel markets. And this year’s debut of the universal aero kit aims to pump up the action on the track, while also giving the cars a cleaner, meaner look.

Now, with NBC all in, Hinchcliffe is bullish on his sport’s future.

“This is a game-changing thing for us,” he declared. “If you look at the last four or five years, we’ve seen a steady growth in pretty much every measureable metric that there is – in a time where, globally, motorsports is in a bit of a downturn.

“The fact that IndyCar was able to rally against a global dip in motorsports interest, attendance, sponsorship – it speaks volumes to what we have been doing and this is just gonna take us to that next level.”