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Celebrity NASCAR Drivers and Their Lucrative Endorsement Deals

Few sports can match NASCAR for lucrative celebrity endorsements. The world of motorsports has a rabid fanbase. They idolize its star drivers, highly sought-after pitchmen for major brands. They have cashed in on their fame behind the wheel. They’ve done so from cereal boxes to soft drink commercials.

NASCAR’s top celebrity endorsement deals are often worth tens of millions of dollars. They last for multiple years. For example, Jeff Gordon’s endorsement portfolio was at its peak. It included over $20 million per year from sponsors like Pepsi, Nicorette, and Pantene.

Hey there, NASCAR fans! Today, we’ll take an in-depth look at celebrity NASCAR drivers. We’ll look at their lucrative endorsement deals. You may be a die-hard race fan or just getting into the sport. But, you can’t deny the star power and marketing appeal of these real-life driving legends.

Key Takeaways

  • NASCAR drivers often get high-paying endorsement deals. This is due to their fame and huge fanbase.
  • Top drivers, such as Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., have gotten multi-million dollar sponsorships. They are with major brands.
  • Endorsements help companies gain brand exposure and connect with NASCAR’s dedicated fanbase.
  • Many factors drive success. These include personality and social media following. They also impact a driver’s endorsement potential.
  • Unique sponsorship activations and creative marketing campaigns help maximize NASCAR celebrity endorsements. They make the endorsements have more impact.
A compilation of NASCAR celebrity endorsements featuring Bubba Wallace, Danica Patrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Jeff Gordon promoting McDonald's, branded apparel, Mountain Dew, and Pepsi's 'Bib & Tub' promotion.

The Value of NASCAR Celebrity Endorsers

Why do so many major companies flock to ink deals with NASCAR’s top talents? It all comes down to the sport’s massive and fiercely loyal fanbase. NASCAR fans are very brand-conscious. They are more likely to support companies that their favorite drivers and teams support.

According to research by Repucom, NASCAR fans are:

  • 79% more likely to choose a sponsor’s brand over a competitor
  • 73% more likely to attend a sponsor’s event or promotion
  • 57% more likely to consider trying a sponsor’s products
Infographic titled "The Value of NASCAR Celebrity Endorsers" showing statistics on brand loyalty, event attendance, and purchase intent among NASCAR fans, highlighting the benefits of nascar celebrity endorsements.

With numbers like that. No wonder brands are willing to pay millions to get their logo on a popular driver’s car and fire suit. A NASCAR endorsement by a celebrity offers unmatched brand exposure. It brings consumer influence and the chance to connect with a very dedicated audience.

NASCAR’s Highest-Paid Celebrity Endorsers

Let’s look at the biggest names in NASCAR endorsements. They’ve landed lucrative deals over the years.

Jeff Gordon

A person wearing a red and black racing suit looks directly at the camera with a neutral expression, embodying the cool confidence often seen in NASCAR celebrity endorsements.

Jeff Gordon was one of the most popular and successful drivers in NASCAR history. He was an endorsement juggernaut in his career. At his peak in the early 2000s, Gordon’s endorsements were worth over $20 million per year. They were from sponsors like:

  • Pepsi ($4 million/year)
  • Nicorette ($3 million/year)
  • Pantene ($3 million/year)
  • Ray-Ban ($2 million/year)
  • And many more…

Gordon’s clean-cut image and crossover appeal led to four NASCAR Cup Series championships. This made him a marketing dream for big brands. They wanted to reach NASCAR’s massive audience.

A man in a suit and tie is speaking into a microphone. Text on the image describes "Jeff Gordon's endorsement portfolio," highlighting his $20 million annual earnings and deals with major brands, solidifying his status as a notable NASCAR celebrity in the world of endorsements.

Jimmie Johnson

A NASCAR race car driver in a blue racing suit stands confidently next to a blue race car marked with the number 48 on a racetrack under a clear sky, showcasing celebrity endorsements.

Jimmie Johnson has a record-tying 7 NASCAR Cup Series titles. He is one of the most successful drivers the sport has ever seen. His on-track dominance and down-to-earth personality have landed him sponsorship gold as well:

SponsorEstimated Annual Value
Lowe’s$6+ Million
Gatorade$2+ Million
Chevrolet$1+ Million

Lowe’s sponsored Johnson for nearly two decades. This made their partnership one of the longest and most lucrative in NASCAR history. All told, Johnson’s career endorsement earnings likely top $100 million.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a blue racing suit with various sponsor logos, hinting at NASCAR celebrity endorsements, stands smiling with a sunset and track in the background.

Few NASCAR personalities can match Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s influence and popularity. He is the son of the legendary Dale Earnhardt and carries one of the most famous last names in motorsports.

Sponsors have paid handsomely to align with Junior. They want to connect with his rabid fanbase. Some of his top endorsements include:

  • Nationwide Insurance ($12+ million multi-year deal)
  • Drakkar Noir Cologne
  • Nabisco
  • Chevrolet
  • And many personal services and product endorsements

Even after retiring from racing, Junior is still one of NASCAR’s most bankable pitchmen. His sponsorships continue to pay off. This is thanks to his media presence and owning a NASCAR team.

Factors Influencing NASCAR Celebrity Endorsement Deals

So what makes a NASCAR driver an attractive endorsement prospect for major brands? Several key factors come into play:

On-Track Success

“To earn big endorsement bucks in NASCAR, you’ve got to win races and championships. Sponsors want to align with drivers. The drivers must be always contending for victories and have a championship pedigree.” – Former NASCAR CMO, Steve Lauletta

Winning is the ultimate selling point. The most lucrative endorsement deals go to drivers who rack up wins, titles, and top-5 finishes. They do so year after year.

Fanbase and Popularity Drivers can move product and put fans in seats. They are the most sought-after celebrity endorsers. A driver’s Q-Rating, social media following, and merchandising sales all matter.

Marketability & Personality Beyond just driving ability, sponsors want personalities who are comfortable on camera, engaging with fans, and representing their brand’s image. Media-savvy drivers with crossover star power can maximize brand exposure.

Image highlighting NASCAR's highest-paid celebrity endorsers: Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Jimmie Johnson, showcasing their major nascar celebrity endorsements and career successes.

Demographics & Fan Alignment Brands will often pursue endorsers whose fanbase aligns with their desired consumer demographics. For example, a youth-focused brand may prefer a charismatic young driver over an established veteran.

Unique NASCAR Endorsement Activations

Competition for sponsorship dollars is heating up. Drivers and brands have gotten more creative with their endorsement activations and marketing. Here are some notable examples:

Bubba Wallace is one of the first Black drivers in decades at NASCAR’s top level. Wallace and sponsor McDonald’s filmed a sweet commercial. It featured a young fan finally getting to meet his on-track hero.

Danica Patrick was a trailblazing female driver. She used her popularity well. She did this by launching a line of Danica-branded clothing, shoes, and workout supplements. She did it through endorsement deals.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Mountain Dew released a special “DEW-nited” diet soda can. It features Junior’s iconic #8 car and colors. Earnhardt also appeared in several wacky Dew commercials.

To promote Gordon’s Pepsi sponsorship, Pepsi made special #24 race car can designs. They also ran a “Bib & Tub” promotion. In it, fans could text for a free spill-proof snack tub.

By thinking creatively, such clever endorsements can create more engagement, attention, and ROI. They come from NASCAR’s celebrity drivers.


What’s the biggest NASCAR endorsement deal ever?

The biggest known endorsement deal was Jeff Gordon’s. It was worth an estimated $35 million per year. This was in the early 2000s.

Do drivers get paid more from race winnings or endorsements?

Top NASCAR drivers get most of their money from endorsements and sponsorships. They pay far more than their race winnings and salaries. The most lucrative deals can be worth 10x a driver’s on-track earnings.

How important is social media for landing endorsement deals?

Increasingly important! Brands evaluate a driver’s social following as part of their overall marketability and fan influence. Drivers with large, engaged audiences on Instagram, Twitter etc. have a major edge.

What non-racing brands do NASCAR drivers commonly endorse?

NASCAR drivers are endorsed by popular companies. These include industries for food, clothing, grooming, home services, insurance, hotels, and multimedia.

Do celebrity endorsements impact ticket and merchandise sales?

Absolutely. Studies show fans are much more likely to buy NASCAR event tickets. They also buy TV packages and driver merchandise. They are more likely to do so if the brands that sponsor their favorite celebrities also sponsor the events. It’s a huge revenue driver for the sport.

Do endorsement deals continue after drivers retire?

In many cases, yes. Especially for all-time greats with enduring popularity and name recognition. Many retired legends, like Dale Earnhardt Jr., continue to get lucrative endorsement deals. They get them thanks to their lasting fan appeal.

Is celebrity endorsement income from NASCAR taxed differently?

No, endorsement earnings are standard income for the IRS. They are taxed at normal rates. This is like a driver’s racing salary and winnings.

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