Events / Fans / Marketing



Author Sarah Gutierrez, University of San Francisco

Posted: October 4, 2016

Tagged: fan motives

Darlington Raceway will host its second annual NASCAR throwback event, creating an exciting weekend of nostalgia and racing for fans. The potential success of attracting fans of all ages and interest levels is evident by the desire to connect a portion of NASCAR history and its sponsors with its current sport culture. It is an opportunity to encompass and engage all participants of the brand entity of NASCAR.

Tickets, programs and concessions will be recreated from the past (Stern, 2016, para. 9) to allow patrons full submersion into the retrospective theme, possibly re-igniting motivational factors (Pons, Giroux, & Mourali, 2014, p. 24) initially responsible for their interest in NASCAR. Cars, teams and sponsors will have throwback paints schemes while competing on a legendary track with NASCAR hall of famers expected to be in the audience (Stern, 2016, para. 6 & 9). This recollected experience will not solely be available to those in attendance, NASCAR will also have incentives to watch for committed fans at home. NBC will provide legendary announcers to call the race accompanied by appropriate clothing, music, logos and graphics in accordance to the selected era (Stern, 2016, para. 12).

The dominating potential success factor for the throwback event is the ability to appeal to both types of sport event consumers who are labeled as either a spectator or a fan. Although “a fan shows a greater personal attachment and affective involvement than the spectator” (Pons, et al. 2014, p. 23), holding a throwback event has an appealing quality to both. Spending the weekend engulfed by NASCAR history allows committed fans to exercise and demonstrate their knowledge of the sport (Pons, et al. 2014, p. 28), as well as educating spectators of the history of NASCAR who have previously not been as invested. This could in return, potentially increase the spectators interest to become more involved in NASCAR.

Another large influential motivator for fans to attend or connect to the annual Bojangles’ Southern 500 throwback race is to purchase specialty merchandise which “reinforces and establishes fan relationships with the teams” (Pons, et al. 2014, p. 22). Purchasing merchandise adds to the “fans’ experience and it can significantly increase the involvement of individuals” (Pons, et al. 2014, p. 21). More specifically, having a throwback event gives consumers a chance to buy limited edition products containing both past and present day teams. The merchandise is even more limited in that the event is only held once a year, commemorating a portion of NASCAR history making it additionally desirable to fans in attendance.

Using many of the qualities of the sport fan motivation scale, the throwback event also presents unique aspects to an established competitive event for fans. For example, presenting a theme will allow fans to escape (Pons, et al., 2014, p. 26) and appreciate a specific period of time in the history of NASCAR and its sponsors. Fans will be able to reflect upon that time in sport as well as in their own personal lives. If a fan is entirely committed to the NASCAR brand, interest to attend the throwback event will be high as shown in last year’s attendance which had the biggest crowd in years (Stern, 2016, para. 5). By attending the event, fans are presently living and re-living the laddering of team brand associations (Funk & Lock, 2014, p. 42) in the same event. Simply by attending, fans will already have a connection to the sport in past and present times thus demonstrating, “categorizing and linking information to self-concept and values” which directly “reflects the degree of attitude formation” (Funk & Lock, 2014, p.42) regarding the history of NASCAR.

Overall, holding a throwback event is touted as an experience not to miss, whether fans are attending or watching at home. The NASCAR brand can profit on memories at a historic race track while capitalizing on an established positive association to rejuvenate their brand by re-gifting the history to their fans.



Funk., D. C., & Lock, D. (2014). Sport consumer attitudes: Formation, function and effects on information processing. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging brands in sport business (pp. 37-49). New York, NY: Routledge

Pons, F., Giroux, M., Mourali, M. (2014). Consumer behavior and motivation: Why are sport event consumers so special?. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging brands in sport business (pp. 21-35). New York, NY: Routledge

Stern, A. (2016, August 29). Track comes up with new throwback themes. SportsBusiness Journal, 19 (20). Retrieved from

About Sarah Gutierrez, University of San Francisco

Sarah completed a BFA Graphic Design at the University of the Pacific and competed in NCAA Division 1 Women’s Swimming. She has served as an instructor with Jim Gorman Swim School, and the Ladera Oaks Swim, Tennis and Fitness Club, as well as Aquatics Manager and Associate Head Coach at the University Club of Palo Alto. Sarah is completing her MA Sport Management at the University of San Francisco, and is looking to continue building her career creating sport programs and helping others reach their athletic goals. This is an edited version of a paper prepared for Dr. Michael M. Goldman’s Sport Marketing class at the University of San Francisco.

IImage by James Marvin Phelps, "Denny Hamlin", Accessed via Creative Commons license.