Losing a primary sponsor is a tough pill to swallow.
That’s the reality veteran Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Karen Stoffer now faces.
Geico announced Friday it was ending its sponsorship with Stoffer at the end of the 2012 season.
“We had our meeting (Aug. 21) and they called us out there and told us in person and we had a good discussion,” Stoffer said. “They are changing their strategies up a little bit and they are looking at more of event series type of sponsorship and they told us that. We had a great nine years and they let us know they were going to release us for 2013. They were kind enough to actually put some really kind words together and announce it so we could continue seeking other partners for the future.”
Stoffer’s team met with Geico officials at the company’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
“We really didn’t,” said Stoffer when asked if she had an idea Geico was ending its sponsorship. “We do know that times have been tough over the years and we do know that they are changing their strategy. They did give us indicators early on in the year that they were looking more at sponsoring series and events and kind of not so much people. We thought that we had 2013 locked in, but you just never know. They have been wonderful with us and we have had a great, great time with them.”
Stoffer came to the U.S. Nationals fifth in the season point standings and she has six career wins.
As for the future, Stoffer is trying to remain optimistic.
“We have a great value package,” Stoffer said. “We have a really good value story with how we interact with the fans, and how much we personally touch a lot of our fans. We have a very, very loyal fan base and I know my fan base. I know the ratio of women to men to children and I think we can do great things for another company like this. Geico had never been introduced to NHRA until we introduced them. They enjoyed it and they actually were able to do a lot of business to business synergies and I think we can do the same thing for another company. We are just looking for another good company that wants to grow and develop, and work the way we did with Geico.”
Stoffer said her team will have to secure a new primary sponsor to compete in 2013.
“We will not be out in 2013 unless we fill the gap that Geico has just left us,” Stoffer said. “We can’t do that (run out of pocket). Everybody is out there looking for the right partners and the right relationships in order to be out here racing. I think it puts pressure on us and it puts pressure on everybody. They all want to show how great this sport is for advertising and getting the message out.”
Stoffer realizes the sooner her team can land a primary sponsor the better.
“We would like to know tomorrow,” Stoffer said. “That would be preferred. But, we have been able to 100 percent transition over from a blue and white package over to a yellow and black package in five weeks. If we knew at the beginning of the year (January) that we signed something, then we could definitely have everything ready to rock and roll as we are now.”
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