Rarely does a race title sponsor get much attention. Sure, it gets mentions during race week when referring to the upcoming race, but even then, a lot of times, upcoming races are simply just referred to by the track that’s hosting them.
The sponsor of the Saturday-night-turned-early-Sunday-morning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway near Kansas City, Kan., though, sure did get attention. Actually, it started garnering attention weeks before the race, itself.
That’s because the race was sponsored by SpongeBob SquarePants. Yep, the Kansas Sprint Cup race was the SpongeBob SquarePants 400. And that name brought with it a great deal of humor.
NASCAR’s aimed at growing its fanbase and looking toward the fanbase of the future with its desire to draw the kiddos to the sport. I guess there’s no better way to do that than attach itself to one of youngsters’ favorite stars.
Too bad, I guess, that the rain delay sent the race to a finish way past kids’ bedtimes. Well, at least they could maybe have watched the first 98 laps, if they wanted. Something to consider — not to encourage this sponsorship away from Kansas or encourage the track reschedule its spring race — maybe a race with such a juvenile sponsor should be a regular Sunday afternoon race. Just sayin’
SpongeBob and his cohorts were all over the place at Kansas Speedway for the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck series race weekend. Pretty much all the characters from the popular kids’ show on Nickelodeon were along for the ride on various Sprint Cup cars and race trucks throughout the weekend, the outside retaining wall was painted to honor SpongeBob, and the backdrop for the Sprint Cup driver intro stage featured the character, as did the backdrop for the race’s victory lane. And then there was that trophy. The trophy for the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 featured SpongeBob, of course, and the SpongeBob SquarePants cast of characters also were on hand, in person, ahem, in costume.
Speaking of trophies, I’m guessing this one’s going to be popular with race winner Jimmie Johnson’s two little girls. I guess it’s fitting that the race win go to a driver with at least a youngster or two at home. Well, except maybe for Kevin Harvick. World has it, little Keelan Harvick doesn’t even know who SpongeBob is. On Twitter, Harvick’s wife, Delana, attributed that to Keelan’s smart parents.
As far as the adult crowd goes, the race, combined with its title sponsorship, did lend itself to quite a bit of humor. After all, isn’t it ironic that a race sponsored by an animated sponge was delayed by rain for a couple of hours?
During that rain delay, I admit to my own snide remarks on social media that SpongeBob should’ve made himself useful by sopping up some of the moisture on the track. He is a sponge, after all. Okay, I couldn’t help myself.
An idea for next year’s race, should the sponsor return — painting the Air Titans to look like giant sponges, just in case. Actually, that would be a cheesy-cool idea, in general.
Also, didn’t it seem kind of weird when David Ragan ran through the grassy infield, right over the race logo? Why do I ask that? Ragan’s No. 55 Toyota prominently featured SpongeBob on its hood, and of course the logo fo the SpongeBobSquarePants 400 also prominently featured SpongeBob. So, when you think about, didn’t poor SpongeBob run over himself with his own car?
One thing that wasn’t so funny — the younger drivers who were in cars donning SpongeBob SquarePants characters as part of their paint schemes. I mean, these kids were talking pre-race about how they watched SpongeBob growing up. Way to make this girl feel old, guys! I’m only kidding, of course, well, not really.
Next year, I’m hoping for a South Park 400. For some reason, I’m envisioning a car with Kenny on it running over a race sponsor logo in the grass that has Kenny in it somewhere.
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