For years, Darlington Raceway's flagship NASCAR race was known as the Southern 500, but over time 'Southern' was dropped in favour of title sponsors, most recently Dodge.

Not only is 'Southern' back in the race's title this year - an attempt to revive the tradition around the race and the mystique of the venue known as 'the track too tough to tame' - but so is GoDaddy.com, which was announced Monday as the event's new presenting sponsor.

The Southern 500 presented by GoDaddy.com, now Darlington's lone Sprint Cup date, runs May 9 on Fox.

Presenting sponsorships can run in the mid to high six figures, but financials on GoDaddy's one-year deal were not available.

International Speedway Corp., Darlington's parent company, has one more title sponsorship to sell, for its August race at Michigan.

"It's exciting to be connected with GoDaddy because we know how innovative they are with their marketing programs and their creative TV spots," said Chris Browning, Darlington Raceway's president.

For GoDaddy, the presenting sponsorship represents further immersion in the sport.

The Internet domain name provider has sponsorships with Hendrick Motorsports and Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s JR Motorsports, as well as a handful of track deals, and it is well-known for its creative and edgy commercials.

This will be the first time GoDaddy has been on the name of a race.

"We have had so much fun with NASCAR sponsorship and all of the integrations with it," said Teri D'Hooge, GoDaddy's vice president of marketing. "(ISC) needed a sponsor and came to us with a deal that gave us a lot of exposure we've never had before."

D'Hooge added that GoDaddy also will be a broadcast sponsor on ABC's Indianapolis 500, where it will debut a new Danica Patrick commercial.
by Michael Smith

Michael Smith is a reporter with SportsBusiness Journal

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