By ALAN SNEL
At first, Las Vegas motorsports dealmaker Michael Gaughan rejected Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s proposal for a South Point 400 title sponsorship deal for NASCAR’s second race at the Speedway in Sept. 2018.
But the Speedway didn’t give up. The venue’s president, Chris Powell, and his staff kept on chatting with South Point marketing officials, including Gaughan’s daughter, Sally, and Ryan Growney, South Point’s sports-loving general manager. After all, it seemed like a logical title sponsorship marriage given that the elder Gaughan, who owns South Point and developed a few other casino-hotels in his career, is Mr. Motorsports (and Rodeo) in Las Vegas.
And eventually, the title sponsorship deal was consummated. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sept. 16, 2018 will be known as the South Point 400 under a three-year title sponsorship deal. It will mark the debut of NASCAR’s second annual event at the Speedway and serve as the first race in the 2018 Cup playoffs.
“They gave me a good package,” Michael Gaughan told LVSportsBiz.com this morning. He noted that initially he was not excited about the title sponsorship deal.
Gaughan has deep roots at the Speedway, which hosts an array of racing events from drag racing to summer events for locals. Gaughan noted he bought the first boxes at the Speedway, which is undergoing seating, terrace and fan improvements to enhance the fan experience.
LVSportsBiz.com talked with Growney about the value of the title sponsorship to South Point.
Gaughan, now in his 70s, is known for his off-road racing exploits, and has sponsored races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway since 1998 while also financially backing race teams led by son, Brendan Gaughan, in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series through the years.
The Speedway’s parent company, Charlotte, NC-based Speedway Motorsports, Inc., welcomed the title sponsorship deal. Marcus Smith, Speedway Motorsports president and COO, said South Point should get a boost from that race being the first in the Cup playoffs in 2018.
“Having South Point as title sponsor is a really good move,” Smith told LVSportsBiz.com at an announcement event at South Point this morning.
With Las Vegas Motor Speedway inaugurating a second NASCAR tripleheader at its spacious venue site north of Las Vegas, four of Speedway Motorsports’ eight NASCAR tracks now host two NASCAR events a year, Smith said. They are Charlotte, Texas, Bristol and Las Vegas, he said.
LVSportsBiz.com talked with Las Vegas Motor Speedway President Chris Powell to get the lowdown on how the three-year deal went down with South Point and Gaughan.
Growney said the financial incentive for South Point is that the September weekend of the NASCAR event at the Speedway is “historically a slow weekend.” So, Growney is counting on NASCAR fans to book rooms at South Point, which has carved out a sports niche of also hosting major rodeo, equestrian and bowling events.
For example, South Point hosted a national bowling event from February to July that attracted 52,000 bowlers, while another 390 bowlers from 42 countries have descended on South Point’s world-class bowling facility for a world event, Growney said.
And next month, the National Finals Rodeo and a giant team roping competition come to Las Vegas, meaning the cowboys and horses will be filling up the South Point site.
But today, South Point celebrated its title sponsorship at the Speedway and Brendan Gaughan, Michael’s son, enjoyed the announcement.
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com