NASCAR has partnered with the WAX blockchain to launch a non-fungible token (NFT) collection to celebrate the upcoming Daytona 500 race. The launch comes shortly after Candy Digital announced a partnership with the Race Team Alliance, an association of 12 NASCAR teams, to launch a collection based on Daytona’s race. However, the NASCAR NFTs are free and only available to ticket holders.
The NFT drop was very scarce. NASCAR emailed 25,000 Daytona ticket holders with instructions to download a digital wallet for WAX to enter the contest for a digital asset. In total, only 500 NFTs were available and the winners were put into a draw for the opportunity to win one of five autographed NASCAR drivers’ helmets.
In terms of TV viewers, NASCAR’s last season was the least watched season on record, with viewership numbers down from 2020’s closed door races. The Sports Business Journal estimates that NASCAR lost between $150 and $175 million in ticket revenue in 2020.
Unlike football and basketball leagues that depend mostly on TV revenue for financial stability, NASCAR’s business model is much more dependent on delivering live experiences to fans. “I mean, selling tickets, selling guest experience, giving people an escape, that’s our core business,” said Daytona’s President Frank Kelleher.
The strategy to drop an NFT collection only to ticket holders may give a sense of exclusivity to the event and enhance the fans’ experience as a reward for engaging with the sport.
NASCAR may also be looking to attract a younger audience. Over 40% of NASCAR fans are between 35 and 55 years old. The integration of NFTs may attract a younger and more tech savvy audience. Another relevant statistic is that 40% of NASCAR fans have children under 18. The NFT collection launched with WAX makes the digital assets a souvenir for the ticket holder. It is an easy treat to give children and can help NASCAR build a younger fan base.
“There’s unprecedented excitement heading into the 2022 Daytona 500, and we want to thank our fans for their continued dedication to the sport by gifting ticket holders with a free digital collectible to commemorate the Great American Race,” said Tim Clark, NASCAR Chief Digital Officer. “Fans want to engage with brands in new and unique ways and this is another step in that process.”
Meanwhile, last year WAX launched an NFT product for MLB fans through a partnership with Topps. At the time, the user experience was a little rough around the edges, and Topps subsequently switched to the Avalanche blockchain for both MLB and Bundesliga NFTs. Last month Topps was acquired by Fanatics, the parent of sports NFT platform Candy Digital, the one with the deal with some NASCAR teams. The WAX blockchain currently hosts some games, such as Farmers World, which are getting significant traffic.
In the metaverse, NASCAR is also present in the digital horse racing game Zed Run, where the horses are branded with the racing league’s teams.