Automotive

NASCAR Loses Its Most Kid-Friendly Sponsor


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Photo: Sarah Stier (Getty Images)

The iconic M&M’s NASCAR liveries will have its last hoorah during the 2022 season before Mars, one of NASCAR’s longtime sponsors, steps back from the series. With it goes one of NASCAR’s most kid-friendly sponsors and a reason for new fans to find interest in the sport.

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On Dec. 20, 2021, Sports Business Journal reported that Mars, Inc., a brand perhaps best known for its M&M’s products, would be leaving both Joe Gibbs Racing and NASCAR overall. The M&M’s brand first endered the series in the 1990s and has been a primary sponsor for JGR, adorning Kyle Busch’s cars since 2008 — which has included over 50 wins and two NASCAR Cup Series championships. On occasions, some of Mars’ other brands — Snickers, Skittles, Pedigree, and Double Mint — have also starred on the Cup car’s wrap.

The move signals the end of an era for JGR but for NASCAR as a whole. In the past, iconic drivers often maintained a similar paint scheme through much of their careers; nowadays, that’s a rare feat. Kyle Busch and his M&M’s car have served as a mainstay for the sport for almost 15 years.

But M&M’s was also one of the few NASCAR brands that catered directly to children, that kids could point out on TV screens or in grocery stores and say, “I like that car.”

It was easily recognizable, one of those cars that you gravitate toward because you actually know the brand and like the livery. It made it easy for kids to pick a favorite. On Twitter, several fans pointed out that the M&M’s livery was a key beginning point for their NASCAR fandom:

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While the disappearance of the sponsor likely isn’t going to cause drastic harm to NASCAR, but it’s also not a great look for future generations. The lack of identifiable brands for kids, though, does hurt the longevity of the sport.

“I have been incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to represent Mars for nearly 15 years now,” Kyle Busch said of the split. “During this time, Mars Associates have been like family to myself, Samantha, and Brexton. In particular, my friendship with the Mars Family will be something that will last a lifetime. We have a relationship so much deeper than just having the honor of driving their colorful cars.”

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