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Raikkonen's debut Truck livery unveiled
19 May 2011
The livery for Kimi Raikkonen's ride in his début appearance in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in Charlotte, North Carolina has been unveiled by his sponsor, snack food manufacturer Perky Jerky.
The black and orange flame-themed design also sports decals from two dozen subsidiary sponsors, as is usually the case on NASCAR vehicles. The original press release announcing the deal noted that "Perky Jerky joins the likes of Tag Heuer, Oakley and Alpine Stars as a sponsor of Raikkonen's quest for dominance in yet another motorsport, as he heads across the pond to test the waters of NASCAR."
It's not known how much money Perky Jerky are paying Raikkonen's team - Kyle Busch Motorsports - for their first foray into NASCAR, but any company expecting to put their name and brand onto the vehicle and firesuit of a former F1 world champion can't expect it to come cheap. However, it should be worth the money for the international exposure that Raikkonen's début is expected to get - provided he makes it in to the race via qualifying.
Last week's American TV viewing figures topped one million viewers, up 26% year-on-year and the highest-rated Trucks race from the Monster Mile since 2006. Interest was driven by the feud between Sprint Cup drivers Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, both of whom were appearing in the Truck race which threatened a resumption of hostilities.
That boost in ratings provides excellent momentum for this week's coverage of the Charlotte Motor Speedway race and Raikkonen's début in the world of US stock car racing, and coverage will also be available in the UK.
Irish satellite broadcaster Premier Sports TV announced Wednesday that they were going to be broadcasting the Truck Series event live and free-to-air on Sky channel 433 from 1am early on Saturday morning, in a one-off deal that's believed to be the first major coverage of the Trucks Series in the UK.
"We had a lot of request from fans asking for this race and it made sense to come to an agreement with NASCAR," said channel spokesman Richard Webb. Premier already air the weekly Sprint Cup races on a subscription pay-for basis and recently confirmed that the deal had been extended to the end of 2012.
Premier Sports TV is presently only available on the Sky platform, and cannot currently be received on Virgin Media, BT Vision or Freeview/Freesat services.
However, fans may be left disappointed if Raikkonen doesn't actually appear, which is possible because he first has to qualify for the race itself. With 45 entries for the race and Truck races limited to 36 starting grid positions, it won't be an easy matter or foregone conclusion for him to get through in his first time at a NASCAR event. NASCAR 'pre-qualifies' some entrants based on owner points, but Raikkonen's truck is not among those guaranteed to start the race.
Despite the involvement of Perky Jerky, it's still believed that Raikkonen is a "pay driver" for these initial races and may even be paying up to $100,000
of his own money to fund his first steps into NASCAR as well as bringing in those high value personal sponsors to the Kyle Busch Motorsport team.
Entering NASCAR as Raikkonen's primary sponsor, Perky Jerky is a producer of "the new high-protein, ultra-premium, functional food for active lifestyles taking the nation by storm", according to their website; or, strips of beef marinaded in sports drink before being dried/smoked to be eaten, a particularly American line of snack food that is still only a niche product in the UK.