NASCAR continues to explore its card options

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

With NASCAR‘s season-opening marquee event just 11 days away, the racing organization’s focus on finding a replacement for Press Pass remains at full throttle.

As it stands right now, the sport isn’t without new cardboard for this year — Press Pass’ final release was its 2015 flagship set released before it closed its doors on Jan. 5. The move came after 22 years in cardboard and the company had been NASCAR’s sole trading-card licensee for several years.

Blake Davidson, NASCAR’s Vice President of Licensing and Consumer Products, told Beckett Media in an email on Wednesday that the organization is continuing to consider its options for a future trading card licensee.

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“Talking with multiple companies at this point,” Davidson said. “Not done yet, but hope to get there soon.”

Of current trading-card manufacturers, only two have previously issued NASCAR cards. Upper Deck created sets from 1995 to 2000, while Topps tried with eTopps in 2003. Rittenhouse produced a card set for the Indy Racing League back in 2007.

Panini America has not produced NASCAR cards, but the Action Packed and Pinnacle/Score brands that were produced throughout the 1990s are part of its portfolio. Panini also recently hired Press Pass’ former VP of Operations, Nick Matijevich, to work in product development. Matijevich built NFL products for Donruss/Playoff while working for the company from 2000 to 2005 before he moved to Press Pass.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Sports Card Monthly magazines. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

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5 comments

  1. MICHAEL RUNYON 11 February, 2015 at 18:54

    Personnally I would like to see pannini get it. They know how to market their cards. THEY are located near a big NASCAR track so contacts would be easy [Although I think they would have to be based out of charlotte for it to be productive]. I also think it should not be a NASCAR only product. None of the other racing series can support their own product but together maybe there would be enough fans to to support a multi sport product. I would love to see some F1 autographs put in a release [and texas gets F1].

    They not only have NICK but dj and the previous editor of beckett racing Tim Trout. If they take it over I also hope they re hire lisa shelby and jessee ledbetter.

  2. Mat P 15 February, 2015 at 09:30

    Of the three big players I’d definitely prefer Upper Deck. Not without faults but of the big three they put out a consistent quality product.

    Panini flood the market, are obsessed with endless parallels, got caught out with bogus relics and not to mention their interminable redemption program. Plus another license would only strengthen the stranglehold they have over the hobby.

    Topps are consistent, almost to a fault, but rely heavily on sticker autos, and their redemption program is even worse than Panini’s.

  3. Billy Kingsley 21 February, 2015 at 04:01

    I would like to see Upper Deck if for no other reason than to get Maxx back. They also are the only company i know of currently that accurately covers the entire sport, whereas Panini doesn’t- choosing to ignore over 100 people in each set, even the flagship sets. Last year’s flagship NBA set included only 200 of the 450 players in the NBA. That is unacceptable.

    Also, Upper Deck gives proper career stats, where Panini does not.

    With that said, ANY cards are better than none!

    Also, I don’t why they feel the need to sign an exclusive contract. The card hobby was thriving in the 1990s when there were multiple companies producing cards- there’s no reason to go exclusive, which is the trend of the last 5 years. It hurts the hobby and it hurts collectors. When the card companies have exclusive licenses they really don’t have to try to make good products, because they know we are forced to buy them- we can’t take out business to another company’s products instead.

  4. olds 24 February, 2015 at 08:55

    Billy: The only company that made NASCAR cards on an exclusive just went out of business with no competition in that area. If demand isn’t there for the products of one company, would there be more demand if there were two or more?

  5. David Quinn 24 February, 2015 at 16:43

    I think Panini will end up with the contract from NASCAR. Having owned a racing fan store in the past, and currently been a collector of racing trading cards since the 1990 Maxx set, I can give a different perspective then most.

    Fans do want the trading cards, so as to round out their collections. But, they don’t want to buy pack, boxes, or cases. They want to buy just the cards they like of their favorite. Because of this it is perceived as being a weak market. One that companies don’t want a part of. But the real reason that most of the groups got out of the racing market was…the cost of making the set.

    Most people think that if you get a NASCAR license, you get all the drivers…nothing is further from the truth. All you get with the NASCAR license are the “LOGOS”, you still have to sign each driver and team to individual contracts. The reason for this is that NASCAR treats their teams and drivers as independent contractors.

    In fact in reality you don’t even need a NASCAR license to put out a Racing set, with a large number of drivers from NASCAR. A company could, if they wanted, do a racing set with drivers from multiple racing series, by just signing up a large number of drivers.

    In fact, the faster way too a NASCAR like racing trading card set might, be signing a contract with the new….RTA, or Race Team Alliance. Since the RTA consists of 90% of the major teams in, Sprint cup, Xfinity, and Camping World, gets you most of the teams. With that you would get all of the top drivers for your set, including, Dale jr., Dancia, Gordon, etc, etc,…. This is because the drivers are under contract with the teams, not NASCAR.

    You might in a few cases need, to sign, personal service contracts with some, so as to do, Autograph and race used cards. I know it seems strange but, you don’t need a license from NASCAR to do a racing set. It’s nice to have but, you ultimately don’t need it.

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