Microsoft has ramped up its involvement in NASCAR, inking new, multi-year agreements with both the sanctioning body and 11-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports.
Both NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports will adopt the Windows 10 platform and Microsoft Azure to improve performance on and off the track. In addition, Microsoft will support the upcoming launch of Windows 10 with primary sponsorship of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Chevrolet SS at Sonoma Raceway this weekend and Pocono Raceway on August 2. Windows 10 will be the Official Operating System of Hendrick Motorsports.
“NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports are perpetual innovators in motorsports,” said Steve Guggenheimer, Corporate Vice President, Developer Experience and Evangelism at Microsoft. “This sport demands constant innovation, to have its boundaries pushed, so that the sport delivers the exciting experiences expected by fans. The Windows mobile inspection application we launched last year is a great example of how innovative solutions can push boundaries and make the racing experience even better. We’re looking forward to the next solutions that we can deploy with both NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports to push each of our organizations forward.”
NASCAR and Microsoft first collaborated in 2014 to make car inspections more efficient and improve communication among NASCAR officials in the garage. By using the Windows mobile inspection application, NASCAR has reduced the time spent examining cars prior to races nearly in half. Officials can also monitor in real-time the progress of each race car as they are inspected for safety and competition-specific regulations.
“Partnering with a global leader like Microsoft heightens our commitment to drive innovation and adopt state-of-the-art technologies across our sport,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR chief marketing officer. “Microsoft has a proven track record as a technology solution provider and the development of the Windows mobile inspection app has reinvented our inspection process. As we look to the future, we’re excited at the prospect of developing new applications and leveraging Windows 10 and Microsoft Azure services that will make our sport more competitive, exciting, and accessible to fans.”
Earnhardt will serve as a spokesperson to promote Windows 10, which will be available July 29 as a free upgrade for qualified Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices. In addition, its new multi-year partnership with Hendrick Motorsports will incorporate technology solutions and training across the team, including competition, business and IT functions.
“I’m a big technology user and really enjoy Microsoft products,” said NASCAR’s 12-time most popular driver. “Kicking off the Hendrick Motorsports relationship with Windows 10 is a unique opportunity, and there’s no doubt our ongoing technical partnership will help us raise the bar in many areas. It’s great to see Microsoft is having such a positive experience with NASCAR and wants to do more across the sport. We’re excited to be a part of that.”
The announcement was made in advance of Microsoft’s participation at the NASCAR Fuel For Business Council meeting taking place on June 25 in San Francisco, with Microsoft serving as the presenting sponsor. These quarterly meetings are designed as forums where Official NASCAR Partners meet and do business with one another. Since 2004, these quarterly meetings have facilitated more than 1,000 “speed meeting” sessions among Official NASCAR Partners, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue and savings to its participating members.
Microsoft becomes the latest blue-chip brand to join NASCAR as an Official Partner. According to a recent analysis of sponsors currently in the sport, 25% of all FORTUNE 500 companies are now invested in NASCAR, with a 50% year-over-year increase in technology companies entering the sport from 2013 to 2014.