When NASCAR released a fan survey to its Fan Council earlier this year, one of the questions raised plenty of alarms in the heads of fans and designers alike.
NASCAR was garnering opinions on the possibility of changing the number placement on a Next Gen car.
The placements ranged from moving the number to the rear quarter panel, the contingency space behind the front wheel, and even nixing the body all together and placing them behind the window net.
NASCAR decided to test one of those placements at Bristol for the 2020 All-Star Race, when the number was slid back more towards the rear wheel.
Now, a new report from Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern states that NASCAR is reportedly in continued conversations about utilizing the controversial All-Star Race number placement more often in the years to come.
After experimenting with it at the All-Star Race, @NASCAR remains talking to teams about whether to slide car numbers back more permanently in the future to maximize sponsor exposure opportunities.
➖ The earliest a change would happen at this point is with Next Gen car in '22. pic.twitter.com/Ma9O8c1F90
— Adam Stern (@A_S12) December 17, 2020
The main benefit to sliding the number back is to try and maximize the sponsor space on the sides of each race car.
While sponsors were going to benefit from the change, fans took to social media to voice their displeasure with the change. The conversation got so popular, Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing development officer, even chimed in on the topic when the news was confirmed that the All-Star Race would use the number placement.
Heard I needed to crop photo better 🤡. One race-team ask for car number at All Star. If sponsors and fans like it-great. If not-guess what-it was one race. Again … pic.twitter.com/qdbrPBAHkF
— Steve O'Donnell (@odsteve) June 16, 2020
The utilization of the space was mixed across the field, with some sponsors maximizing the space well, while others couldn’t really capitalize on the new area. Ally, for example, was able to place a much larger decal in the space compared to the traditional placement above the rear wheel, giving the brand more exposure on television.
In addition, companies that have a shaped logo, such as Oscar Mayer, can take advantage of the space well thanks to their primary logo design.
While NASCAR has already release the windshield banner guidelines for 2021, it is unlikely that the sanctioning body would make a drastic chance already with paint schemes already being revealed. That is a decision that would likely come with the introduction of the Next-Gen car, even as the Fan Council survey featured a generic model of the car.
NASCAR has yet to confirm the report as of this publishing.