Homestead-Miami Speedway announced that Ford Motor Company has extended its partnership to host Ford Championship Weekend for the next five years with an option to renew for an additional five years. Matt Becherer, president, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Joe Hinrichs, executive vice president and president of the Americas, Ford Motor Company, made the announcement in the infield media center at Michigan International Speedway this morning.
MATT BECHERER, President, Homestead-Miami Speedway – “When Ford Motor Company and Homestead-Miami Speedway first partnered on Ford Championship Weekend in 2002, it marked the first time where NASCAR would crown all three of its national touring series champions on the same weekend at the same race track. We’re going to make history again this year when we host during Ford Championship Weekend the championship round of the new format for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in the Ford EcoBoost 400. The anticipation and drama heading into Ford Championship Weekend this year is going to be unbelievable with four drivers all on equal footing in a winner-take-all format. Qualifying for the Ford EcoBoost 400 will easily be the most compelling qualifying session of the entire year. When the concept of Ford Championship Weekend was originally conceived, there was no way anybody could have anticipated what’s going to unfold at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November. This year is the 13th year of what has been an absolutely fantastic partnership. When you think about it, Ford sponsors more than race, they sponsor a weekend – a championship weekend – and it makes that 13-year run even more impressive. While many things have changed in those 13 years one thing has remained constant and that’s the fantastic partnership that we have with Ford Motor Company. We also have our collective commitment to making Ford Championship Weekend a fantastic experience for everybody involved. Whether you’re talking about the celebrity involvement, whether you’re talking about their best-in-class display that anchors our midway, or the iconic flags that are pulled behind the Ford trucks at the conclusion of the national anthem, there’s no doubt in our fan’s mind that we do everything possible to make Ford Championship Weekend a top-notch championship event.
“It’s for that reason I am thrilled to announce that Homestead-Miami Speedway and Ford Motor Company have extended their relationship on Ford Championship Weekend through 2019 with an option to continue through 2024.”
JOE HINRICHS, Executive Vice Present/President of the Americas, Ford Motor Company – “It’s a big deal for Ford Motor Company and the Ford Racing team. First, I want to thank Matt and the entire team at Homestead-Miami Speedway for that partnership the last 12 years and we’re certainly looking forward to the next five and perhaps 10 years together. As Matt said it’s a whole weekend and not just one race, but with the Chase format the way it’s now lined up this really sets up for an outstanding and exciting weekend for our fans and of course all NASCAR fans around the world. We’re also really thankful for the partnership that we have. We think the Homestead-Miami team does a great job working with us with our activation on the midway, but also just to make the whole weekend a special event. We also want to thank John Saunders of ISC and the whole team at ISC for their relationship with us, not just at Homestead-Miami but at all the tracks, including here at MIS where we are today, and we look forward to all the opportunities we have with ISC in the future.
“When we look at these things we try to look at ‘is this the right audience for us?’ Clearly, when you look at the facts, 38 percent of all new car buyers intending to buy in the United States classify themselves as racing fans and 80 percent of them are NASCAR fans, so the logic is pretty clear for Ford Motor Company.
“I was there last year at Homestead-Miami Speedway and I’ll be there again this year to hopefully celebrate a Ford blue oval in the championship circle, but when you look at our 40,000 square feet of activation and what we bring to the whole weekend, including our new vehicles, which we have so many new this year, including Mustang and F-150, it’s a great display for us.
“But as I said before, we think Ford Championship Weekend sets up now and into the future as an even bigger event with the new Chase format and the excitement around qualifying as Matt mentioned and then of course the race itself and crowning a champion. We have the pace car for all three events of the weekend, which is another opportunity for us to showcase new vehicles. We’ve done so many in the past with the Fusion Hybrid, the Mustang Bullitt, the F-150 Tremor and even the Mustang we used in the Need for Speed movie have all been showcased as pace cars there.
“Of course, the weather at Homestead-Miami is great too, so it sets up as a great weekend. We use that as an opportunity with our dealers and the rest of our extended Ford family to celebrate and bring incentive trips and other things to be a part of that – from Puerto Rico all the way around the rest of the world, so needless to say we’re pretty excited and we all support the continuation of this relationship.
“Ford is proud to be a part of NASCAR, certainly with our Ford Racing program, and proud of the relationship that we have with Homestead-Miami and ISC.”
QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION
MATT BECHERER – IS THERE A GUARANTEE FROM NASCAR THAT THIS WILL REMAIN THE FINALE FOR TRUCK, NATIONWIDE AND CUP THROUGH 2019? “We’ve spent the better part of a year renegotiating this extension and we would not have expended the time and energy that we did had we thought there was any chance that the championship could be leaving Miami in the near future. Now having said that, obviously there are a number of stakeholders that would have to weigh in to a decision of that magnitude. The loudest voice in that conversation is NASCAR’s, but the reality is we would not have gone down the path we did if we thought there was a chance that it would leave. And frankly it shouldn’t leave. The reality is if you look at the racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway over the last three or four years it’s unbelievable. It’s multi-groove, three-wide. Drivers can put their car anywhere they need to on the track depending on the changing track conditions and handling of the car. It’s truly a driver’s track. If you want to meet me out there on Monday after the race I’ll show you where the entry to one to the exit of two the track is rubbered in from the white line all the way up to the wall. The same is true for turns three and four. There’s not a square inch that isn’t rubbered in. It’s a perfect track not only for a championship, but a winner-take-all format for a championship, and then when you layer in the beauty and the amenities we have as a facility at Homestead-Miami Speedway and all the things that Miami has to offer for the fans, media and sponsors, whether it’s night-life, ancillary activities adjacent to the race. To me, it’s a perfect market for it. Miami is championship-oriented. The Dolphins have a couple Super Bowls. The Heat look like they’re gonna be stuck on three for a while. The Marlins have a couple of World Series. UM, the Hurricanes with their national college football championships, not to mention the mega events we host in addition to Ford Championship Weekend – decades of Orange Bowls and Super Bowls and the list goes on, so it makes perfect sense for NASCAR to keep it there, in my opinion.”
JOE HINRICHS – DO YOU PAINT YOURSELF IN A CORNER PUTTING YOUR NAME ON AN EVENT WHEN THERE’S NO GUARANTEE THE TEAM HOLDING THE TROPHY AT THE END OF THE DAY IS GOING TO BE DRIVING YOUR PRODUCT? HOW DO YOU LOOK AT THAT? “We look at it across several dimensions. It’s more than just the actual race. It’s clearly the weekend and the culminating event of the NASCAR season, which of course we’re prominent participants in, so to us it’s bigger than just the race and the championship, although clearly we want to win both. When you look at it to be able to showcase our vehicles and to celebrate the end of the NASCAR season in Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway makes a lot of sense for us. Last year, we had the Nationwide championship series win there, so there’s more to the weekend than certainly just on Sunday, so to us it’s bigger than just the weekend. And now with the Chase format the way it is having Ford Championship Weekend be truly a championship weekend for Sprint Cup, we think it makes a lot of sense.”