Coca-Cola continues alliance with NASCAR venues

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Coca-Cola Co. and track-owner and broadcaster Speedway Motorsports Inc. are extending their partnership through 2015, allowing Coca-Cola brands a free hand at NASCAR venues in Charlotte, Atlanta, Las Vegas and elsewhere.

Coke brands will continue as the official soft drink, sparkling beverage, water,  sports drink and enhanced water for six SMI tracks. They include Atlanta Motor Speedway (Hampton, Ga.), New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Loudon, N.H.), Infineon Raceway Speedway (Sonoma, Calif.), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Las Vegas, Nev.), Charlotte Motor Speedway (Concord, N.C.) and Texas Motor Speedway (Ft. Worth, Tex.).

"We’re very proud to have extended and brought them all under one umbrella," said Beatriz Perez, senior vice president of integrated marketing at Coca-Cola North America.

Perez said the single contract makes it easier for Coca-Cola to "cross-promote" events, such as sending fans from Atlanta to Las Vegas or from Charlotte to Sonoma. "This made it more consistent, more practical," she said.

Coca-Cola is the official sparkling beverage of NASCAR and has been involved with stock car racing for more than 40 years. Recently though, the sport's once-meteoric rise has slowed. With unemployment hitting 10 percent, the recession has caused more fans to stay home. Coca-Cola, though, says the sport and its sponsorship remain valuable.

"We don't worry, because what we know is, people are just consuming it differently," said Perez. "People are struggling and they may not be able to come out to the races. But even if they don't come to the races, they're watching it at home. And more often than not, they're watching it with their families."