Around the tracks they speed, drivers hidden by helmets and car roofs. For fans sitting in bleachers from Bristol to Pocono, there is no chance to see their heroes' faces as they navigate speedways, no way to be captivated by their focus and intensity.
Despite the seeming limitations of the sport as a marketing vehicle for its athletes, U.S. companies have embraced NASCAR drivers as pitchmen. During Sunday's Daytona 500 -- always NASCAR's first race and biggest race -- more than 20 drivers will appear in commercials before at least 17 million viewers on Fox. According to Fortune magazine, two of the top 10 endorsers in U.S. pro sports are NASCAR drivers: Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned about $20 million in 2007 and Jeff Gordon hauled in roughly $15 million.