As Australia’s primary racing series continues to look for a way to go international, the series may have just gotten the financial backing from an airline to do so. The Australian carrier Virgin Australia has announced a five-year deal with the V8 Supercar series. The airline will become the official naming rights sponsor for the auto-racing league with the V8 Supercars becoming the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship starting on July 1. In an announcement about the deal, V8 Supercars CEO James Warburton praised the branding, citing that the racing series was making a deal with “one of Australia’s most recognizable and premium brands.”
The announcement came Wednesday, April 27th at Brisbane Airport with both the V8 Supercars CEO and Virgin Australia CEO taking part in the festivities. Alongside the two CEOs, various drivers of the series as well as Virgin flight crew for photoshoots and interviews. Virgin Australia donated a Boeing 737-800 for the photoshoot and V8 Supercars provided one Ford and one Holden racecar for a backdrop. The festivities also allowed for V8 Supercars to showcase what the new logo for the series will look like with the Virgin Australia branding.
With the sponsorship comes positives to both the racing teams and fans of the sport. Virgin Australia has announced a new Virgin Australia Holiday package called the Supercars Travel which will allow for fans of the sport to travel to races for a cheap price. The 11 race teams will also be given airfare to travel from race to race.
The financial backing may also be what the series needs to get more of a global presence. V8 Supercars has tried to expand their international presence by adding races in Japan, China, and the United States, only to see low turnout and high travel costs force the races to be abandoned soon after starting them. With Virgin Australia, the cost of travel of teams is reduced, allowing the series to eyeball new race destinations such as Dubai, which is currently rumored to be a future race.
Virgin Australia has played a vital role in sponsoring Australian sports. Outside of racing, Virgin Australia has also been the official sponsor of the Australian Football League and the National Basketball League of Australia. Virgin Australia (and previously branded Virgin Blue) have used the sponsorships to gain traffic and popularity with the Australian people in order to compete with Qantas Airways and neighboring Air New Zealand, who had dominated the Australian skies following the collapse of Ansett Australia in 2001.
Racing and airline sponsorships have always been a common sight. Qantas has been the official airline of the Formula One Australian Grand Prix since the inception of the race. Outside of Australian Grand Prix, most Formula One races are sponsored by Emirates Airlines. Other airlines sponsoring Formula One include Gulf Air and Etihad Airways, who sponsor the Bahrain Grand Prix and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. NASCAR has announced a sponsorship with Allegiant Air earlier this year, allowing the low-cost carrier to also sponsor the NASCAR “west coast swing” when the series ventures to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. NASCAR has also seen various cars sponsored by airlines, including Allegiant Air, Piedmont/US Air, and Vision Airlines. While the Virgin Australia-V8 Supercars deal is still young, the positives for both parties involved will help potentially broaden their reaches.