Report: National Guard’s NASCAR program barely nets any new recruits

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The National Guard’s racing sponsorships were in the news earlier this year, mainly in the Verizon IndyCar Series ranks where it transferred from Panther Racing to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

But on the NASCAR side, where more dollars are spent annually and the sponsorship is higher profile with Dale Earnhardt Jr., it hasn’t necessarily generated the best return.

In a USA Today report released Wednesday, the 2012 season saw the Guard spend $26.5 million but did not sign a single new recruit. The same report said a total of $88 million has been spent over the last three years from 2011 to 2013, but couldn’t determine a number of prospects or recruits.

While the exposure remains – the report said 90 percent who enlisted or re-enlisted from 2007 to 2013 indicated that they had been exposed to information about the service through NASCAR-related recruiting and retention materials, per a National Guard spokesman – the deliverables of new signups appear to be lacking.

It’s an interesting situation, and one too where Hendrick Motorsports is working hard to cover its bases in terms of putting together other sponsorships. Nationwide Insurance was announced last week as a new primary sponsor for at least 12 Sprint Cup races for Dale Jr. starting in 2015; Mtn Dew, Kelley Blue Book and others also enjoy a prominent role with the 88 car.

Lewis Hamilton comes home to Mercedes factory after fourth title

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On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.

And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.

Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.

The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.

“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.

“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.

“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”

A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.