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NHRA, Marcus Lemonis’ Camping World Flirt on Twitter as Drag Racing’s Big Leagues Begin New Title Sponsor Search

Tuesday may have marked one of the most unique days in drag racing history — the first sponsorship courtship by Twitter.

In a stunning turn of events that played out in a wildly entertaining fashion, the NHRA – through its social media page — openly expressed a desire to do business with Camping World after its CEO, Marcus Lemonis, hinted at his company’s own interest to do business with the NHRA Drag Racing Series.

With NHRA filing a lawsuit against Coca-Cola on Monday, this served as perfect timing for the drag racing series, which was sent reeling after alleging Coca-Cola broke a title sponsorship agreement with the NHRA.

That contract was slated to run through 2023, with the current six-year program calling for an annual payment of $5.72 million per year. It appeared to be another crushing blow to NHRA in a 2020 season that has seen a number of cancelled events and drastically reduced purses due to the public health crisis, but Lemonis and Camping World could be coming to the rescue.

At least, that’s what many in the NHRA circles — including racers, teams, fans and announcers — are hoping for after his initial tweet Tuesday morning.

His “we at Camping World aren’t scared of our commitment to racing” seemed like a scathing dig at Coca-Cola, which reported massive losses and huge layoffs during the second quarter of 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, apparently deeming cutting ties with NHRA as another necessary cost-saving measure.

He wanted to talk sponsorship with NHRA, noting their good standing with NASCAR, where Camping World had been the NASCAR Truck Series sponsor for 10 years and will resume that position next year.

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The initial tweet got drag racing circles buzzing, with many believing the pairing of NHRA, Camping World and RVs a natural fit.

The next bit of shocking news came with NHRA’s reaction, which didn’t hide its feelings on Twitter. It’s a bold move for a professional sports organization, but the enjoyable back-and-forth was seemingly well-received by all as the potential courtship played out in real time on social media.

Lemonis had his own response, NHRA reciprocated and it seems like the world’s biggest drag racing organization may have potentially found a new title sponsor in what could be a huge stroke of luck.

It’s worth noting the entertaining, very public conversations don’t mean a sponsorship has been discussed or is even a possibility at this point. Sources also told Drag Illustrated this wasn’t a planned conversation, but rather something nobody saw coming and both parties simply reacted on the fly on the heels of Monday’s massive news.

Of course, major questions need to be answered — and maybe quickly and immediately. NHRA needs a title sponsor if the partnership with Coca-Cola, which has sponsored the company since 2002, does indeed fizzle out. NHRA alleges that Coca-Cola missed a $2.86 million payment in May, and intends to “hold Coca-Cola to its contractual promises.”

Along with that, president Glen Cromwell stated, “We are excited about our return to racing continuing into 2021, our 70th anniversary year, with a strong race schedule, and we will do that in partnership with some of the best sponsors in sports.”

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But, without question, NHRA will need a title sponsor — or perhaps several — to replace the nearly $6 million it was due to receive from Coca-Cola.

Would Camping World entertain paying anything close to that number? That’s to be determined, but after watching a budding love affair play out on Twitter between two companies that seem to make sense together, it’s not hard to be excited about the possibilities.   

This story was originally published on September 23, 2020. Drag Illustrated

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Since 2005, DI has informed, inspired and educated drag racers from every walk of the racing life - weekend warrior and street/strip enthusiasts to pro-level doorslammer and Top Fuel racers. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-worthy videos to electric live events, DI meets hundreds of thousands of racers where they live, creating the moments that create conversations.