Is Aaron’s dumping NASCAR?

Three years ago, we “awarded” Aaron’s (AAN) the highly prestigious footnote of the year for its disclosure that it had spent $260K to sponsor two race car drivers who happened to be related to a top Aaron’s executive. Last year, that number blossomed to $1.6 million and the executive — Bill Butler Jr. — is now the company’s chief operating officer.

But in the preliminary proxy that the company filed late Friday, Aaron’s said that when the sponsorship of the Robert Richardson racing team ended last year, the company chose not to renew despite the fact that “Motor sports promotions and sponsorships are an integral part of the Company’s marketing programs.” Butler’s son, Ken Butler III, drove the No. 23 Aaron’s Chevy for 18 races last year. The filing provides no other details on the end of the relationship though a quick skim of Richardson’s site shows that Aaron’s is no longer a sponsor.

But according to this article Aaron’s may not have given up on NASCAR after all. It’s just giving up on sponsoring the Butler boys. In honor of the company’s 55th anniversary, the company plans to sponsor Michael Waltrip’s return to racing at Talladega next month. (As we footnoted back in 2006, Walltrip’s company helped to train the Butler boys in the art of racing). There’s no details on the deal, but then again, unlike the Butler boys, Waltrip is not a related party and it’s hard to imagine that the price-tag would be considered material.

Image source: Jayski’s Silly Season


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