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Springfield, MO

Drive Auston Dillon wears the Andy’s Frozen Custard logo during a NASCAR race. Photo provided by ANDY'S FROZEN CUSTARD
Drive Auston Dillon wears the Andy’s Frozen Custard logo during a NASCAR race.

Photo provided by ANDY'S FROZEN CUSTARD

Andy’s Custard rolls with NASCAR sponsorship

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Hometown pride may not be easily found at the Super Bowl, but turn on the Daytona 500 or take a step onto the racetracks in Florida, and Springfield spirit can be mustered up almost immediately. Bass Pro Shops has been a longtime sponsor of NASCAR – since connecting with Dale Earnhardt in 1998 – but newly added this year is Andy’s Frozen Custard.

Founder and President Andy Kuntz said when the opportunity arose to sponsor a driver, he decided to give it a go.

It was a small, but powerful statement: The red and yellow Andy’s logo is printed on the white driving gloves worn by Austin Dillon during the Feb. 26 Daytona 500. Dillon’s in-car camera provided a treat to Kuntz and his frozen custard team.

“It was pretty impressive exposure for Andy’s,” said Joe Howard, president of Palisades Stone, who was in the Daytona stands last month. “It was really in our face – plain as day.”

Howard, at his first Daytona experience, said there was a massive screen broadcasting video from the inside the cars, and he saw the Andy’s logo on Dillon’s glove about a half a dozen times during the race.

The Andy’s sponsorship will continue through the season, Kuntz said, declining to disclose the cost of sponsorship.

Bass Pro spokesman Jack Wlezien said founder Johnny Morris enjoys NASCAR racing, and that passion is reflected in the hearts of Bass Pro’s target customers, as well.

“There’s just so much excitement around the spirit of racing that our brand and customers really relate to,” Wlezien said. “Both brands are all about fun. Our products are fun and NASCAR is an industry that’s all about fun.”

Bass Pro most notably sponsors Martin Truex Jr., which includes Bass Pro logos on his No. 78 car and racing gear. Wlezien declined to disclose the private company’s investment in the NASCAR sponsorships.

Springfield Business Journal reported in 2010 a primary sponsorship range of $10 million to $15 million a season.

Springfield-based O’Reilly Automotive Inc. (Nasdaq: ORLY) is also a sponsor of NASCAR. The auto parts retailer partners with 13 NASCAR tracks, including Texas Motor Speedway, Talladega Super Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Both Kuntz and Wlezien said an important aspect to picking who they would sponsor was finding someone of character.

“Austin’s a great guy,” Kuntz said. “As great as it sounds to have the opportunity to get your name on a driver’s gloves, we also look at the character of that person.”

Kuntz met Dillon at a golf tournament at Top of the Rock last year. The two of them were put in a playing group together and hit it off.

Wlezien said the drivers Bass Pro tends to partner with really live its brand of taking to the outdoors for fishing and hunting enjoyment.

“They really help us showcase that lifestyle,” Wlezien said. “It’s something that our customers really appreciate and relate to.”

Also, Bass Pro last month opened a smaller outpost store across the street from the Daytona International Speedway. The heavily themed store is customized with native wildlife that pays homage to the Daytona Beach area and products related to NASCAR.

Wlezien said Morris personally takes pride in seeing Bass Pro’s name making laps around the track – a reminder of the retailer’s growth from humble beginnings to now appearing alongside hundreds of well-known brands and in front of millions of people.

The majority of Bass Pro’s stores are located in the Midwest and eastern regions of the United States, spanning to the southern tip of Florida.

Though Andy’s isn’t that far into the sponsorship scene, Kuntz said he thinks the company has a customer base watching the races.

“It’s hometown America,” Kuntz said. “A lot of these guys started racing dirt cars in tracks in Missouri and Arkansas, a lot of them probably grew up on a farm. Those are the type of people who are out there [watching].”

The exposure should help the company reach its goal of 75 stores by the end of the year. It’s currently approaching 50 stores with seven markets – including Columbia, Phoenix and Frisco, Texas – listed as coming soon on its website.



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