National Guard has announced the end of its motorsport sponsorship in the American NASCAR and IndyCar championships, meaning that its current sponsorship of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar team will stop at the end of the year.
The announcement will come as a major blow to the RLL squad, which loudly trumpeted its $12 million sponsorship deal ahead of the 2014 season. National Guard joined the squad after a six-year stint with the now-defunct Panther Racing team, which was forced to close its doors after being unable to secure the funding needed to compete this year.
Panther Racing subsequently launching legal proceedings against National Guard, IndyCar and RLL, which still remains outstanding. It raised allegations of bid-rigging and other irregularities were at play in National Guard’s decision to switch camps.
If it’s perhaps of any consolation to Panther Racing, National Guard’s association with RLL has failed to deliver the team the lift in performance this year. Aside from driver Graham Rahal’s podium finish on the streets of Detroit, it’s been a troubled, uncompetitive year for the outfit. The second-generation racer languishes in 18th place in the Drivers’ Championship standings in yet another underwhelming season.
The team’s performances have had nothing to do with National Guard’s decision to pull the pin on its sponsorship in motorsport, which follows a broader exit from other categories it sponsors, including fishing and motorcycle racing.
“Significantly constrained resources and the likelihood of further reductions in the future call for more innovative and cost-effective ways of doing business,” acting director of the Army National Guard, Major General Judd H. Lyons, said in a statement announcing their decision.
The announcement comes in the wake of a shocking report in the USA Today newspaper earlier this year, citing a leaked document that showed its NASCAR sponsorship activities had failed to attract a single recruit to its ranks in 2012.
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