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Friday, February 17, 2006

Car Talk

The number of its viewers has risen 60 percent in the last 10 years. Advertisers now pay almost half a million dollars to have their commercials aired while it’s on. “It,” of course, is the Daytona 500.

This Sunday marks the kickoff of NASCAR’s 36-race season. The sport has evolved far beyond the days when bootleggers built stock cars to outrun “the law.” Today NASCAR races are broadcast in more than 150 nations; 75 percent of its U.S. fans have attended college, and 40 percent are women.

Marketers noticed the growing female fan base and got a bright idea. NASCAR fans buy $2 billion in licensed products each year, and romance novels generate more than $1 billion in sales each year. The January 31 USA Today reported that Harlequin has teamed with NASCAR on a line of romance novels.

“It’s a very good fit,” Harlequin’s Marleah Stout told USA Today. Check out:

In the Groove and Dangerous Curves by Pamela Britton.

Sunday Money: Speed! Lust! Madness! Death! A Hot Lap Around America With NASCAR by Jeff Macgregor.

Real Men Work in the Pits: A Life in NASCAR Racing by Jeff Hammond.

Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul: Inspirational Stories of Courage, Speed, and Overcoming Adversity by Jack Canfield.

From Moonshine to Madison Avenue: A Cultural History of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series by Mark D. Howell.

What do you think about the NASCAR-Harlequin mash-up?

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