Arctic Cat will become the lead sponsor of one of the oldest and best-known sprint car racing series, the company said Tuesday, further raising its profile in the racing industry, a goal of Chief Executive Chris Metz.
Racing legend Tony Stewart a year ago bought the organization that runs the series, now called the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions. Twin Cities-based Arctic Cat already is a sponsor of Stewart’s NASCAR racing team.
The first race will be Feb. 5 at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla.
“Tony Stewart has long been a member of the Arctic Cat family and the association on the grass-roots level is a great fit for our brand,” Greg Williamson, Arctic Cat’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “Fans can expect to see many of our products on display at a large number of All Star events in 2016.”
Last fall, the company became a partner in NASCAR and off-road racer Robby Gordon’s Speed accessory line. It also agreed to sponsor the lead-in race to Gordon’s popular Stadium Super Truck Series.
Williamson said at the time of the Gordon deal that the company wanted to “solidify Arctic Cat as a major sponsor of racing.” Metz said in the fall that his goal, through sponsorships and a high profile at trade shows, was to raise the company’s profile through select event marketing.
Metz also aimed to lower excess inventory and broaden new product offerings to turn around the company, which has been struggling in recent years. Although the company has continued to miss sales targets because of inventory issues and the strong dollar, Metz’s target for the company is 50 percent growth and $1.15 billion in sales by 2020.
The Wildcat, Arctic Cat’s high-performance side-by-side, will be showcased at numerous All Star events, and participants will be able to ride the ATVs on the same racing surfaces the All Star drivers use. The company also will showcase its products at the races, and the top three drivers in the circuit standings will receive Arctic Cat ATVs.
Stewart thanked Arctic Cat for its support and said he “might even participate in a few ride-and-drive events with the fans.”