By on November 9, 2009

Which Toyota is that again? (

Last week Toyota followed the lead of Renault, Honda and BMW and bid adieu to Formula 1 racing. The Financial Times pins Toyota’s decision not only on financial belt tightening, and on the notion that racing just doesn’t move the metal in times of increasing environmental concern. When Leonardo DiCapro becomes the inspiration for an electric car and NASCAR talks about moving from carburetors to fuel injection to save some gas , you know something is afoot. Automakers and part suppliers have been backing away from the racing for many months now. Earlier this year both Subaru and Suzuki exited World Rally Championship racing and Bridgestone recently announced it’s giving up being Formula 1’s exclusive tire supplier.

“Win On Sunday, Sell on Monday” sure hasn’t done the trick for Toyota’s Tundra. Tundras (or their look-alikes) are dominating NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Racing Series, but are also-rans on Monday. Are the racing cut backs just a transient part of tough economic times, or has the tide shifted such that racing sponsorship looses a company as many customers through lack of Green Cred as it gains from the dwindling base of piston heads? Is auto racing still a potent sales tool for car companies, or are those days over?

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45 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: Has “Win On Sunday, Sell On Monday” Died?...”

  • avatar

    In the name of safety and trying to “democratize” the machinery to make sure everything is equal, all the ruling bodies have ruined the sport. There is no relationship between what is on the track and what’s in any showroom and hasn’t for years.

    F1 is the worst with massive investment that can only be afforded by faceless corps. Only a very few can be competitive which multiplies the ennui. Add to that fact that all the cars have become rolling billboards and the disconnect is total. The heydays are long gone. Even the good ol boys from NASCAR have just about faded away with the most visible being the colour guys on TV.

    Where’s the beef? What is the attraction for the masses? The future looks dim.

  • avatar

    Don’t look for NASCAR to die off any time soon. I doubt that it has any impact on sales of anything (cars, soap, whatever is plastered to the cars) but it represents a massive perk for corporate honchos.

    Same with golf.

  • avatar

    I doubt that “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” was ever true. However, racing your brand is a form of advertising and it appears that many manufacturers have decided that their advertising budgets are better spent elsewhere.

    Racing will miss them (really, their money). Those of us who hope that involvement in racing will lead to more performance oriented street vehicles have already been disappointed.

  • avatar

    Racing is a point of pride for people who are already fans – I can’t see it contributing to sales as much as a more general “brand building.”

    One reason Toyota may have given up on F1 is that it has no brand identity related to speed or performance. The US series are more relevant because they are more about American culture than actual vehicle capabilities.

    Finally, I can’t imagine why anyone would put up with F1 these days. Never mind the tabloid scandals, the fact that it is run and managed purely on the whim and fancy of two doddering old twits should make anyone run screaming for the hills.

  • avatar

    Part of it is the economic cataclysm….once there is recovery in the industry the big spenders will be back. But yes, WON/SOM is in big trouble when it comes to major league motorsports.

    A large problem is the homogenization of the cars, which infects everything from F1 to NASCAR. With nothing to differentiate the cars, where is the basis for marketing? The Detroit 3 stay in NASCAR only because they all are in it and to pull out would result in too much loss of face. And auto enthusiasts are a diminishing breed. What’s happening in Japan will happen here soon enough.

    For now, perhaps the future is in supporting grassroots motorsports. Mazda has done very well with this and it looks like Honda is getting involved in a similar way. Ford sells Mustangs for (comparatively) low-buck road racing or drag racing. It seems to me that interest in track days, HPDE, autocross, and run what ya brung drags is on the increase.

  • avatar

    Renault hasn’t quit F1 yet, unless something’s come out this morning that isn’t showing up elsewhere on the internet.

    I think the biggest issue is that the auto manufacturers are all taking it in the shorts at the moment. There also might be a bit of a class-wise separation going on. One of the main reasons you race as a manufacturer is to beat the other manufacturers and show people who are cross-shopping both brands that you’re better. But who is cross-shopping Toyotas and Mercedes? When Honda pulled out, so did one of Toyota’s biggest reasons for continuing. And with BMW on the way out, I don’t know if Mercedes will stay in for many more years.

    But overall, it’s cyclical. Eventually, the economy will stabilize, and then one will come back, and then others will come back, then they’ll leave again. On and on.

  • avatar

    The auto makers want to be associated with fun and exciting auto-related endevors. I can’t be mad at that.

    I would be quite pissed if I was an auto maker pumping tens of millions of dollars into something that had declining viewers. (NASCAR)

    Furthermore, I’d be really pissed if I was an auto maker pumping tens of millions of dollars into race cars/teams that bore absolutely no likeness to the street version. (NASCAR)

    The connection is lost and I’m confident very few people are running to the Toyota dealership the day after they see Kyle Busch win a NASCAR race.

  • avatar

    Kendahl :

    I doubt that “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” was ever true.

    I believe that this was true back in the late-50s to maybe early 70s, especially in NASCAR and NHRA/IHRA circles. Big, fast muscle cars that looked like the winners on the tracks were (and still are) in demand.

    That said, I also agree that those days are long gone. A RWD, V-8 “Toyota” with a Ford 9″ rear-end doesn’t compel me in the least to consider a FWD, I-4 Camry…or any of the other brands in any motorsports. My blind brand pride disappeared when I had to put my own money into the vehicle and get the best bang for the buck. Very few domestics on the short list to replace either of the family cars anymore.

  • avatar

    Formula 1 lost the sporting part of being a motor sport, it’s now the world’s most expensive parade.

    I agree with Boff, auto racing is far more interesting at the lower levels of competition. The grassroots are still alive but F1 and NASCAR et al are astroturf.

  • avatar
    The Gold Tooth

    I am 55 years old and have lived roughly half my life in the UK and half in the US, none of it as a recluse. As far as I can recall, never once during my entire adult life have I ever had a conversation with anyone about anything related to Formula 1: championships, races, cars, drivers, you name it.

    The world of Formula 1 is a subject about which I, my friends, relations, work colleagues, etc. are completely ignorant and completely indifferent. The very fact that Honda, BMW, etc., were ever in Formula 1 comes as news to me, and their withdrawal is to me a matter of neither interest nor consequence.

    Formula 1? Time to put it to sleep; people just don’t care.

  • avatar

    When “Winston Cup” cars went from being modified production cars to templated series specific cars the mantra died. It was probably somewhere between the late ’70’s and the mid ’80’s.

    I can’t imagine any racing series today having that type of a sales impact.

  • avatar

    When I bought my Mitsubishi Galant in the mid-90’s, it was because that model was entered as a rally car in the early 90’s.

    Nevermind that it hardly won anything, or that I bought a used base model that had little to do with the VR4 Galant, by owning that car, I too was a rally driver!

    There’s a sucker born every minute, and I was one of them. It was advertising that actually worked.

  • avatar

    When I was trying to make a career in motorsport, I was interviewed by Toyota Team Europe in Germany. I spent two weeks on site in Cologne, another two on tests and one on an event.

    In and around rally cars, with rumours of Formula 1 coming up.

    I can’t tell you how much I wanted the job!

    But even then, no-one was sure why they were doing the jobs they did, as ALL the market research Toyota tried showed “no effect” from motor sport.

    One thing that the research did constantly show was the disproportional coverage of machinery failures. This one at 3:30 was particularly infamous within Toyota. Co-driver Luis Moya throws his helmet into their WRC Corolla after he realises the World Rally Championship of 1998 was lost by just 700m.

    Heads of Toyota, Honda & BMW hate not winning, or at least being embarrassed with failures. Clearly for Ferrari, F1 is a no brainer, but everyone else, god only knows.

  • avatar

    If green cred is what they’re concerned with, how about a race series with the following rules

    1) Entrants must pass a stringent crash test, and fall withing reasonably normalized dimensions (no quasi-motorcycles or cars the width of the track…no gigantic mass discrepencies)
    2) Everyone starts with the same amount of fuel…and a relatively low amount for a race car, at that. Maybe it’s a normal winner-take-all race, and not finishing = DNF, or maybe it’s your time, with some bonus points for how much fuel is left over at the end of the race. Better yet, rather than an equal amount of fuel, how about an equal amount of ENERGY in any sort of fuel you like….ethanol…diesel….electricity…hydrogen…whatever.

    Other than that, it’s completely open. THAT, would be interesting racing that the car companies and fans could get behind.

  • avatar

    F1 is as dull as dishwater so that might be a factor. I think ‘Racing Improves the Breed’ is a much better argument than ‘Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday’. Does anyone on this forum even remotely consider how the brand they might be buying of car is doing in F1?

    Now in the right circumstances it can be useful. It was probably better and cheaper for Subaru to have it’s World Rally team to gain awareness and credibility of the brand than just buy ad space.

    Now Subaru has gone mainstream (translation there cars are now worse) so they don’t need the motorsports angle anymore. Pity

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    “Win On Sunday, Sell On Monday” had validity decades ago when stock cars really were. Race results today are irrelevant. Folks know the decals are all that differentiate the cars.

  • avatar

    Perhaps the late 80’s and early 90’s was the last time when “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” formula applied to car sales. This was the time when you could actually buy a homologation special from the showroom, a car quite similar to the racing version that was successful on big international racing venues. BMW had the E30 M3 and MB had 190E 16V – those cars raced in DTM, in Japan and Australia they had the R32 GTR that dominated local Touring car series. 4G63 engined Evo was perhaps the last true homologation special you could buy from the showroom that had genuine racing roots. FIA changed their rules in mid 90’s. Now Focus RS only shares the front headlights with WRC model. Car manufacturers no longer had to produce homologation models for the streets to compete in touring car and rally championships. That is only one minor reason.

    Men made all the (car) purchasing decisions in the family back then, men earned larger salaries, green was a strange colour to car buyers etc.

    Now day by day women are more becoming the decision makers in the family, they earn more, are more environmentally conscious etc – racing is the last thing on earth that they are affected by when choosing a car.

    Motorsport will remain an important factor to a very small group of car buyers, most of them race or build cars themselves as a hobby. In the 21th century the average Joe who enjoys his Bud while watching sunday night football, will buy whatever car his wife will tell him to buy.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    Win on sunday sell on monday works on motorcycles still (well, worldwide, AMA sucks these days), but what races on sunday is VERY close to what you buy on monday.

  • avatar

    I think ‘Racing Improves the Breed’ is a much better argument than ‘Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday’.

    I agree, and this is why I think major racing series are seeing declining participation on the part of both spectators and manufacturers/sponsors.

    Racing series have overdone the equalization of competitors. They don’t actually compete anymore, they parade around waiting for Lady Luck to favor their situation because they sure as hell can’t intentionally improve their equipment without violating some rule or another. The opposite extreme is also true where continued participation in a series is contingent upon massive development efforts to comply with arbitrary rules that offer little or no benefit to the manufacturers (CoT, KERS, Super 2000).

    People like competition, drama, and seeing competent competitors succeed without being penalized. People also like freedom to be creative and do the things necessary to “improve the breed.” Series where this is still possible, SCCA, grassroots-level racing, is where interest continues to increase as Boff noted. Series where competition and innovation is limited by rules or formulas or templates suffer declining interest and participation (see F1, NASCAR, WRC).

  • avatar

    I have my doubts in both ‘Racing Improves the Breed’ – racing is organized to deliver close outcomes via stringent regulations that nearly make all cars the same. This does not encourage R&D that is useful in the real world but rather only ways to get around the rules.

  • avatar

    I don’t think “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” ever worked.

    The most successful NASCAR make int eh early 50s was Hudson. Seen many of them around lately? Their sales declined every year they dominated NASCAR.

    Pontiac was another NASCAR winner, in the late 50s early 60s. Seen a Pontiac dealership lately?

    Followed by Plymouth, through the mid sixties. The streets aren’t exactly packed with Plymouths these days.


  • avatar
    John Horner

    Thanks for catching my error Highway27. Various reports say Renault’s board is considering pulling out of Formula 1, but no decision has been announced yet. Mea culpa.

  • avatar

    Formula 1? Time to put it to sleep; people just don’t care.

    I think F1 is full of problems (related to those two old kooks, among other things), and I doubt it sells many cars (except for Ferraris maybe), but according to Wikipedia there are over 600 million TV viewers of F1 every year. So I think somebody cares :)

  • avatar
    Mark out West

    24 hour races such as Le Mans and Daytona do still have a modicum of competition and do help burnish the technical reputation of some manufacturers. Think of what Porsche would be today without the 1,580 HP 917-30, the greatest race car of all time. Audi’s R10 TDIs are also at least partially responsible for the firm’s turbo-diesel portfolio.

    As for F1, only metrosexuals follow it.

  • avatar

    I think it is pretty much dead. Many car buyers don’t follow motorsport to begin with. A car is a fashion accessory or appliance. Look at the buzz that Volvo gets by putting its cars in a vampire movie! Ferrari needs to be in F1 because its customers expect it, as where the comes from. Personally, I think more tech comes from enduro and rally racing than most other places. NASCAR has been going down hill since the 80s at least, when FWD cars like the Regal and Cutlass raced with RWD powertrains. Yes, I know that there were RWD Cutlasses up until the downsize craze.

    Racing has produced many common items today, such as stability control, ABS, computerized systems (except NASCAR).

    For diehards, it is nice to see their car win a race. I admit I enjoy seeing a Volvo win a touring car race, especially the wagon in the BTCC.

  • avatar

    I agree, win on Sunday sell on Monday died with templates. The cars in NASCAR are nothing like the cars they represent. Who cares if the Impala, Fusion (mustang next year), or Camry wins the race? You can’t get anything like it in the show room.

  • avatar

    I think racing might have some value in generating pride within the company, but has little or no effect on buyers. I can see “Win on Sunday – Feel a little bit better about going to your job installing lug nuts on a minivan assembly line on Monday.”

  • avatar

    “…but according to Wikipedia there are over 600 million TV viewers of F1 every year.”

    I bet there are also 600 million viewers of “Survivor” every year, too. NASCAR and F1 are both just a different sort of reality TV. They are a nominal “competition” that is tightly controlled and manipulated for ratings appeal.

    Admittedly, I still watch a bit of both. But I do so knowing that I am watching reality TV, not sports.

  • avatar

    “Montecarlo”, nuff said.


  • avatar

    F1 still has it’s moments. I know it’s completely forgotten in the US because strangely, no US driver seems to be able to qualify for a superlicense but to Australians, Japanese, Germans and Englishmen etc. who have their countrymen in the running, it is a main event.

    Countries like Brazil called 3 day holiday to mourn Ayrton Senna. I doubt many other countries would do such a thing.

    If you saw the announcement you would have seen the Japanese Toyota chairman break down when he held the press conference. This is touching to me because it shows there’s some at the top who still have some emotion (other than greed).

    But the problem is Toyota and Lexus are daggy cars.

    No doubt there is no kudos in owning a Toyota (unless it’s a Toyota Supra).

    That it the problem. Ok they can build an F1 car (and lose race after race). They still can’t build an exciting road car like they did in the past. Oh and spare me the LF-A…

  • avatar
    Gary Numan

    Yes and for some time.  When there is no direct relationship between the actual product on track and what one can buy then game over.  Most folks with half a brain have seen thru this for some time now.  Just look to NASCAR for the ultimate joke. ……how about going in to buy a 2dr Taurus with rear wheel drive?
    All I and many others see is a massive waste of corporate funds into these racing venues and for what? What direct relationship does it provide for customer benefits tied to the product they buy? Can a salesman articulate why racing and winning on Sunday makes their potential car purchase better or differentiated positively from other car choices?

    No.    What many consumers see is just big racing expenses that help make purchasing their car more expensive with zero direct benefits beknown to them.

    Now….contrast this years ago when Kawasaki launched the  GPz90oR (Ninja 900 in the USA) for 1984 and the folks who entered them into the Isle of Mann TT won the top two or three spots that very same year, well, that reality of product performance surely helps tie in with product positioning around power and handling for which the bike was marketed to be sold.

  • avatar

    One motorsport I wish had more coverage in the US (or rather, any coverage at all) is Australia’s V8 Supercars.  From what little I can glean from the internet (Wikipedia), the V8 Supercar series seems like true stock car racing as the cars are what amounts to heavily modified, production cars racing on road courses.   I have not seen much touring car racing but from what little I have seen, the V8s would be a lot of fun to watch.  You listening Speed TV??? 

  • avatar

    I passionately follow F1 (although not on SpeedTV as this would cost a LOT of extra money, plus they don’t have WRC to make it worthwhile) because of the tragicomedy behind a series run by a couple of perverted megalomaniac octogenarians (Max and Bernie) regularly pulling the rug out from under the world’s wealthiest corporations (and even Ferrari is not immune!). I LOVE hating Max and Bernie, both true sociopathic evil geniuses, and love watching the politically correct corporate talking heads squirming under their heels.
    It’s easy to see why big companies like Toyota, Honda, BMW, and Michelin finally say ‘uncle.’ The reason the LFA and several BMWs have V10 engines is because F1 had them, until they suddenly changed their mind again. F1 is a technology marketing nightmare because of the instability (and favoritism in Michelin’s case). And the power struggle looks to continue with Ferrari crony Todt now head of the FIA. Oh, the humility!

  • avatar

    Firstly, when was the last time you saw on TV a racing series where the cars racing were 90% the same as the cars that you could buy from your local dealership? If I remember correctly, that last happened in nineteen seventy….. something?
    Secondly, motorsports is all about speed, spectacle and winning. The side effects of this are crashes, pollution and possible injury or death.
    These ‘dangerous’ aspects of motorsports just are not marketable to the risk averse car buying public.
    Basically, people have got boring and nervous about everything. They want cars that are predictable, reliable and safe.

  • avatar

    The Euro Touring Car series seems to hit a decent formula of production-based vehicles, even mixing up RWD and FWD vehicles in the same race.
    I remember quite some time ago a (very) brief run of the North American Touring Car Championship that aired on Speedvision (back when it was called that).  Must have been early/mid 90s.  It seemed to follow the Euro formula of production-based cars starting from factory body-in-white and using production type engines and drive line configurations.  I wish it would have taken off as I thought it was more visually interesting than NASCAR and embodied what stock car racing should be.

  • avatar

    It certainly worked in the 50s & 60s. It saved the ass of quite a few automakers (Jaguar, Aston, Ferrari, Porsche, and even Ford) but the OPEC oil embargo killed it. To a great degree it has never come back. Why? About that same time the cars that won on Sunday could actually be bought on Monday, and that hasn’t been true since then. Racing cars are nothing like their street-legal versions anymore… even in (ESPECIALLY IN) “stock car” racing, aka NASCAR. The only cars that race today that are remotely close to what you & I can buy are GT and Rally cars, but even they are heavily modified. Every other race car is a purpose-built machine with nearly no shared components with what you’ll find in a showroom.

  • avatar

    People seem to misunderstand F1. It’s about maintaining a relentlessly low lap time. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean overtaking “duels” are a prime consideration.

    If you can understand the driver commitment required or you’ve been trackside, F1 is amazing.

    Richard Hammond (Top Gear) gave a neat example of what F1 is about by progressing from one class of car to another for illustration.

  • avatar

    Anyone who’s been around long enough has seen manufacturers get in and out of racing.  Right now money is tight.  Times will get good, and some manufacturers will return to racing.
    What I’m wondering is this – what will Indy do if Honda stops making all the Indy engines.    (And, does anyone really buy a CR-V because of Indy? )

  • avatar

    If there is a race series where the race cars look nearly identical to production cars, then yes you can “race on Sunday, sell on Monday.”

    Look at the WRX and Evo as prime examples.  I’m sure the Speedvision Challenge from a few years ago helped to sell a few more Acuras when the Realtime guys were running at the top all the time.  What about the Miata Challenge series (I can’t remember the exact name) – looks good for selling Miatas!

    There are series like NASCAR and F1 that have become mini soap operas, more having to do with driver personalities and politics than the actual cars themselves.  These series do not help to sell cars at all.  It boggles the mind that GM and Chrysler took our tax dollars in bankruptcy, yet still run in NASCAR. 

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    NASCAR still uses carburetors? WTF? When did FI cease being exotic? 30 years ago.

  • avatar

    I was a race manager for a PWC manufacturer during the early years of jet-ski type racing and it was thought that our many championships sold boats, and I’m sure it sold a few.  As always, a few screw it up for the many.  A lot of recreational riders acted like idiots on the water trying to be racers, causing restrictions on PWC use in several areas.  Those restrictions caused a drop in sales.  Suddenly the corporate marketing department was looking at my $4.5 millon budget, saying it was actually costing them sales.  Marketing manager:   “Do you know how many family fun ads I can do with this money?  Let your racers work out their contracts and shut the department down.”  So the emphasis on performance changed to family fun and a more wholesome image.
         I think things are going the same way in the auto industry.  Performance is now measured in miles per gallon.   Since most race cars haven’t resembled the real thing in years (NASCAR isn’t fooling anybody).  I don’t think win on Sunday sell on Monday has applied for at least 20 years.

  • avatar

    There’s a wider question about the effectiveness of sports sponsorship in general. For some automakers and with some racing series there still seems to be a connection between a presence on the track and customer brand loyalty. Racing is certainly part of Ferrari’s overall marketing strategy and vital to the brand, though it probably doesn’t make sense for major manufacturers to dump hundreds of millions into F1. In what I consider to be F1’s heyday, the 1960s and 1970s, the series was populated by a couple of small car companies, Ferrari and Lotus, who started out as race car builders, not road car manufacturers, as well as other specialist racecar builders like Williams etc.
    Mazda’s spec racing series and Formula Ford have helped those brands. DTM and other European stock based race cars also seem to engender brand loyalty.
    So involvement in racing can still be part of an automaker’s marketing strategy.

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