Here's the problem with selling corporate naming rights to sports facilities: When times are good and sponsors are interested, they're more than happy to make it rain. When priorities change, however, the money gets withdrawn and all that's left is that company's stupid logo, plastered all over the signage.

Not that we're specifically referring to Infineon, the German chipmaker that decided against renewing its sponsorship deal with the California track now known as Sonoma raceway (yes, small r). We're not sure why the powers that be at Infineon felt that defiling the name of this 2.5-mile road course would no longer be part of the corporate marketing plan, though we will admit that despite its having bought the naming rights to Sears Point Raceway a decade ago, we still had to look Infineon up on Wikipedia to recall exactly what business it was in.

The announcement that Infineon would cut ties with the track came in March, though track management told The San Francisco Chronicle that it had known for years that the contract would not be renewed. Infineon had its name officially retired on June 1, and while track officials have temporarily christened the course, they've said the "Sonoma" moniker is not likely to last. In a letter to fans, the track's general manager said they will "formally re-brand the facility before the end of this year, whether with a new company or otherwise, with a major announcement, new logo, promotion and merchandise."

Here's an idea: If you strike out on landing a new corporate sponsor, most racing fans still call it Sears Point.


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  • 30 Comments
      SBF
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have a great idea....... Why don't we go back to calling it Sears Point Raceway!!
      MONTEGOD7SS
      • 2 Years Ago
      I stopped watching NASCAR when Charlotte was named Lowe's Motor Speedway. Corporate branding of these like tracks ruins it for me.
        gtv4rudy
        • 2 Years Ago
        @MONTEGOD7SS
        ... just like those stupid names for stadiums and arenas.
        RGT881
        • 2 Years Ago
        @MONTEGOD7SS
        That's a bit of a rather extreme reaction don't you think? I certainly agree that it's no good to change iconic facility's name to a corporate one, however, it works for the company in upgrading their brand image. I've been to Sears Point raceway in 2000 when I went to Jim Russell racing school and I've driven the track in all configurations and it's good fun, used to be intimidating too when it had those hills right next to the track. Spinning out and flipping over was not good fun!
      stefanmichael825
      • 2 Years Ago
      Just name it {new Main Sponsor here} Raceway On Sears Point, whch is sponsored by {new Sponsor #2 here} , in Sonoma County which is sponsored by {new Sponsor #3 here}... Then EVERYONE is happy, The Track gets their sponsorship money, and so does every other money grubbing person up the chain!!! Least we not forget that the race itself will be brought by it's own sponsor, as well as the racers themselves. So what we will end up with is a victory circle that lasts over an hour just to read off the whole list of sponsors who made this race possible for us. Oops, getting late..Pardon me, I need to go out and talk to a possible sponsor for the next crap I am going to take!
        wendygoerl
        • 2 Years Ago
        @stefanmichael825
        So at any given time you risk one of three companies backing out and having to spend oodles of money changing the name instead of one? (I'm an MSOE alumnus.While I was there, there was a MAJOR debate about changing the name, because a donor had offered to foot the cost: it was $3 million. And I doubt we have our name on as much stuff as an International-level racetrack.)
      e46mike
      • 2 Years Ago
      It'll always be Sears Point to me.
      Matt Hopkins
      • 2 Years Ago
      They called it "Sears Point" until the late seventies. At that point they changed the name to "Golden State International Raceway". People still called it "Sears Point", so they changed it back. Then this "corporate branding craze" took over and they changed it once again, this time to "Infinion". Guess what? People still (except the media) called it Sears Point. Here's an idea, Rename it Sears Point and stop changing it.
      Wolf
      • 2 Years Ago
      Seriously, keep it as Sears Point. As an interesting side note, Caltrans still calls it Sears Point. Yesterday I was passing a live traffic time digital sign on the freeway in Marin County and they had it listed as "Sears Pt." Apparently they didn't get the memo that is now Sonoma raceway.
      Peter Brown
      • 2 Years Ago
      Speaking as an ex Sears Point racer, I applaud anyone and anything that shovels money into these facilities. In my mind it will always be Sears Point, but we all welcomed the upgraded facilities and maintaining the entry fees for low budget racers like the historicals (in their day). A big thanks to Infineon, the second largest chip provider to the automotive industry, for supporting the market that they have been in for quite some time. I hope that the management of the track can find another sponsor quickly and that they will also be involved and committed to the sport of auto racing.
      David J. Bernstein
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sweet. A racetrack named after a GMC vehicle.
      Johnny-wat
      • 2 Years Ago
      Dunno man. I have always known that track as Infineon, and have always called it that. I don't see why Infineon didn't renew the deal. Given that my company works with Infineon on too many projects to name, they don't seem to have any difficulties in doing so (they are one of our best clients). Probably some other reason besides financial behind it.
        Go
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Johnny-wat
        No disrespect but you must be a child. Anyone over the age of 18 around here has never called it Infineon and the antagonism toward that name has been well-known and open. Everyone still calls it Sears Point. Infineon didn't renew because of this problem (and because it's not known for racing, doesn't support racing, is a German brand, etc.). It was a silly idea to begin with. They should look to Mazda Laguna Seca for a naming example -- It's related, they support racing and it maintains the original name.
          Johnny-wat
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Go
          Where's "around here"? I live 10,000+mi away, halfway around the planet, in Malaysia. I can see that, if you were born and raised in the area, you'd call it Sears Point. The first time I ever heard of it was on Gran Turismo 4. After I began my career in infrastructure design and working with Infineon, that's when I actually found out what Infineon did. Always thought it was strange ever since that their name was plastered on a race track.
        davebo357
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Johnny-wat
        I feel like race tracks should be sponsored by people who are more likely to buy the sponsor's product, like Mazda with Laguna Seca. I assume the kind of things Infineon produces aren't direct consumer products and don't necessarily appeal to car/bike enthusiasts? I think since tracks don't have "home teams" like other sports, they should get their own names and have the sponsors be more of a surname so it can change in circumstances like this. Also is that an old photo or new? I recall there being more green grass there at one point.
          Johnny-wat
          • 2 Years Ago
          @davebo357
          Infineon products do appear in cars: http://www.infineon.com/cms/en/product/applications/automotive/index.html In fact, they have a finger in almost every major consumer product that involves electronics.
      • 2 Years Ago
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      • 2 Years Ago
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      gmhtv1
      • 2 Years Ago
      The whole concept of paying to get ones name on a sports venue in my opinion is totally stupid and a waste of money.......aIt just is vanity on the part o the current management ande a way to get free box seats in the name of the business.
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