Sponsoring speed: Local colleges pay for racing exposure

Colleges sponsor race car driver students

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The world of racing is covered in corporate logos and now there is a new brand of company getting in on the act.

This company is using the Grand Strand and Pee Dee as ground zero for the clash of colleges and competition.

A Coastal Carolina University student, Brandon Brown said he loves everything about his school.

"I came to Coastal because I loved the atmosphere, I loved the teachers, the class sizes," he said.

Brown, however, is anything but a typical college student.

The CCU junior is a professional race car driver. More specifically, he drives in the Camping World Truck Series, which is NASCAR's third highest series.

Brown said he did not pick Coastal Carolina because of any sort of sponsorship deal.

"It's meant everything to me," he said. "Coastal has been my first big break. They really gave me my first real start at it. Having a school that supports you 100 percent and it's not an NCAA affiliated sport, so it's not something you come to a college expecting."

CCU's agreement is with Brown's team Brandonbuilt Motorsports. It spells out how the school will be represented throughout the year on the student's truck, his suit and his helmet.

Brown said the funding has meant better equipment, more traveling and more races for him.

About 65 miles from CCU's campus, a different truck sits in a garage with a different school's logo. It belongs to Hayes Goodson and he knows exactly who to credit for his sponsorship deal, Hunter Thomas.

"I had to kind of prove myself that I could help the college out," Thomas said when asked how he convinced Florence Darlington Technical College to get into the racing business. "I got this idea of taking my boss out to Dillon Motor Speedway and he got hooked."

The first deal in 2015 was with Hayes' dad, Hal, who won the Pee Dee Coastal Super Truck Series championship that year.

Now, dad is the crew chief and FDTC logos are on his son's truck, which has also been finding its way to victory lane.

It is racing that brings this family together and FDTC that helps them keep going. The partnership works for the school, too.

"The auto racing folks are in the dead center of our demographic," Thomas said.

The interest generated at the track is just like buying a billboard, but now the school knows it is reaching its target audience.

For Hayes, this is a hobby. But for Brown, racing is a job.

Coastal Carolina is along for the ride with what its vice president of marketing calls a billboard moving at 180 miles per hour.

CCU said tens of thousands of people see the truck at any given race and on major networks like NBC, ESPN and TNT. The race team's hauler also sports a Coastal logo.

School officials said the exposure is well worth the investment.

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