Title: Building a fan community through the folklore of NASCAR

Authors: Christie Amato, Charles D. Bodkin, Cara Peters

Addresses: Department of Marketing, The Belk College of Business, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28223, USA. ' Department of Marketing, The Belk College of Business, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28223, USA. ' Department of Marketing, The Belk College of Business, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28223, USA

Abstract: Seventy-five million fans contribute nearly $3.0 billion annually to NASCAR|s profitability. From 1997 to 2004 NASCAR saw a 24.6% increase in their fan base while other professional sports organisations declined. Identification and perceived intimacy with NASCAR drivers may partially explain heightened fan commitment; but, is there also a role for the fan community? This paper examines how fan communities and their folklore strengthen fan commitment to NASCAR and its drivers. Using qualitative analyses of folklore surrounding NASCAR drivers we identify and discuss the lore of identity and of shared and clashing values. Findings suggest that empathy with a driver, expressed in stories fans tell from their experiences and observations, enhances their commitment and contributes to the folklore of the larger fan community. Fans differentiate between drivers based on shared and clashing values, creating stories of conflict, heightening the drama of NASCAR and building fan commitment to drivers with shared values.

Keywords: fan commitment; NASCAR folklore; fan community; brand relationship; qualitative data; sport leagues; NASCAR drivers; brand community; mythic lore; sport fans; marketing consumer values; management sport leagues; sport marketing; fan base; motor sport; motor racing; motorsports.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSMM.2010.033945

International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 2010 Vol.8 No.1/2, pp.5 - 20

Published online: 05 Jul 2010 *

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