Adidas is starting its engine with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The German athletic giant has signed a multiyear deal with the NASCAR driver for Dale Jr. women's, children's and men's apparel, accessories and footwear, including his future racing suit and technical footwear, plus off-track footwear and fan apparel. Earnhardt will introduce the line, which hasn't formally been named, at the February 2008 season opener in Daytona, Fla.
Adidas and Earnhardt made the announcement Friday at Daytona after Earnhardt qualified for the Bush Series. The deal follows Earnhardt's decision earlier this year to leave DEI, his father's racing team.
"I've been wearing Adidas my whole life," Earnhardt said in a statement. "I'm excited to bring Adidas into our sport, introduce them to our loyal fan base and work with them to apply their performance technologies and innovation to create cutting-edge products that will help me as a race car driver and allow me to remain true to myself."
The line retails from $20 for a T-shirt to $2,000 for a race suit. Adidas declined to make volume projections for the collection. Dale Jr. licensed products, rolling out in February, will be sold at Adidas stores and at sporting goods retailers such as Sports Authority, which has more than 400 doors nationwide. Previously, Earnhardt products had been sold at racetracks and chain stores, according to Adidas.
"We are leveraging the relationships Adidas has with those places and taking the Dale Jr. fan product distribution to a channel it's never been before," an Adidas spokeswoman said.
Earnhardt and Adidas plan to add technical features like ClimaCool, which lowers body temperature and combats athlete fatigue — which could be helpful in the extreme temperatures of the cars.
"We are really treating [Earnhardt] as an athlete, and he's bringing his expertise from inside the race car and putting his fingerprint on every product," said the Adidas spokeswoman. "NASCAR spends millions of dollars trying to improve the car, but no one pays attention to what the athlete is wearing. We see this as an opportunity to be the link between man and machine, and an opportunity to enter into a sport that hasn't had a lot of innovation in its suit."The deal with Earnhardt drives Adidas into the world of NASCAR, adding to the company's portfolio, which also includes partnerships with the NBA and NFL.
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