One of Mississippi’s most recognized names in the insurance industry is joining with one of NASCAR’s premier racing teams for the 2008 season.
Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company (SFBLI), headquartered in Jackson, has partnered with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), and will serve as the primary sponsor for the team’s No. 18 Toyota Camry in six NASCAR Nationwide Series races in 2008. The Nationwide Series, formerly known as the Busch Series, is NASCAR’s second most popular division.
The No. 18 Farm Bureau Insurance car will debut March 8 at Atlanta, with subsequent races May 9 at Darlington, June 14 at Kentucky, July 4 at Daytona, Sept. 5 at Richmond and Nov. 1 at Texas. The driver lineup includes Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano. The Nicorette 300 race in March at the Atlanta Motor Speedway will be televised on ESPN2.
Joey Stroble, chief executive officer of SFBLI, said that discussions with JGR have been ongoing for more than a year, and that the relationship is about more than money. “Joe Gibbs does not partner with just anybody. There has to be a match of values and expectations. Also, Farm Bureau Insurance sought more than just advertising and promotion. We wanted something for our agents and customers to get excited about. I appreciate the support received from the Farm Bureau Insurance property and casualty companies in our 10 states which was essential in our securing the sponsorship agreement with Joe Gibbs Racing.”
The idea of values is reflected in the Joe Gibbs Racing mission statement: “Our goal is to field for our sponsors and fans competitive race cars on a consistent basis with the goal of winning races and championships. Our expectation is that we will be able to see in our growth and success, things that would have never been accomplished except by the direct intervention of God.”
Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company has $87.5 billion of life insurance in force through a network of more than 4,200 agents in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas, South Carolina and Virginia, placing the company in the top 5% of all life insurers in the United States and Canada. Assets as of December 31, 2007, were $9.9 billion. Surplus as of year end was $1.58 billion.
Last year the company celebrated its 60th anniversary, Headquartered in Jackson since its establishment, Southern Farm Bureau Life officially opened its doors for business January 2, 1947. Coincidentally, NASCAR will be celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2008. It was formed in 1948 when Bill France developed rules that standardized a popular hobby into an official sport. The first NASCAR race was held that year in Daytona Beach, Fla.
“We’re proud to announce our newly-formed relationship with Joe Gibbs Racing,” said E.J. “Buddy” Trosclair, vice president-agency at SFBLI. “I can’t wait to see the Farm Bureau Insurance car in the winner’s circle. This will elevate the awareness for our company throughout the Southeast region.”
David Waide, president of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, stated, “Farm Bureau Insurance is excited to be a sponsor of the Nationwide series. This is the number one spectator sport and offers enormous opportunity for our Farm Bureau members to have exposure in an arena that is so well watched and followed by the American public. We think this is a tremendous opportunity for Farm Bureau to be exposed to new markets.”
The popularity of NASCAR has grown to the point where it is now the second most popular sport, behind the NFL. Seventeen of the top 20 most-attended sports events in the United States last year were NASCAR events. NASCAR’s fans are loyal, spending more than $3 billion on merchandise last year.
Fans in the Magnolia State can even display their loyalty on specialized license plates bearing the NASCAR logo, which are available in Mississippi for an additional $36 fee. As of January 2005, there were 26,124 NASCAR plates issued in Mississippi, according to the Mississippi State Tax Commission.
Joe Gibbs Racing is based in Huntersville, N.C., and is owned by Joe Gibbs, a three-time Super Bowl winning coach and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. JGR has competed in NASCAR since 1992, winning three Cup series championship races and more than 70 NASCAR races.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Phil Hardwick at firstname.lastname@example.org .