From championship rings to championship trophies, Jostens’ motorsports division creates awards for more IndyCar and NASCAR champions than any other company.
Founded in 1897, Jostens is widely recognized for producing class rings and yearbooks for high schools and colleges. For the last 25 years, the Minneapolis-based company has also provided championship commemorations for the motorsports industry.
“We provide all the awards – trophies, and rings for NASCAR, IndyCar, NHRA, PDRA, supercross, karting, the World Racing Group, and individual tracks from the Kern County Raceway to the Irwindale Speedway to Myrtle Beach Speedway,” said Curt Bruns, vice president of Jostens motorsports division.
“We present the rings at the Daytona 500, Indy 500, and sometimes if time allows, we will help present at the Coke 600. We make the trophies for the champion of the NASCAR Cup Series, which is now called the Bill France Award; the NASCAR Xfinity, all the NASCAR champions in all series; and for the Astor Cup for the IndyCar champion.”
He says that each of the series have their own distinct look.
“That’s determined by the organization, and then we put the creative together; they say ‘we like this,’ or ‘can we replace that,’ and then ultimately the look is approved,” he said.
When it comes to to individual race tracks seeking to crown their local champions, Bruns said that creating those awards came about as an outgrowth of other motorsports business. “We are a contingency sponsor in the NASCAR Pinty’s series,” he said. “Those series race at all the local tracks around the country, which opens our opportunities to market to those local tracks.”
Jostens’ move into the racing world came about in large part because of Bruns’ own efforts. “I have been involved with the company for over 30 years, and always felt we should be involved there, and pushed our company to get involved in racing some 25-plus years ago,” he said.
“To reach out to the market, it took time to understand that it’s different from our traditional business, even different from stick-and-ball sports. You call on say the NFL, you go to the League and have relationships with everyone. With NASCAR, you have to work with both the teams and NASCAR, so it takes a lot of time to build those relationships.
“What made me decide to move into that area was that I thought it was a unique, brand-loyal industry that fans are very enthusiastic about it; they are passionate about the sport. And what is really cool about it, is that everyone has a different driver they root for, it isn’t like rooting for the Packers, so many people have so many specific drivers they love.”
If someone wants a trophy through Jostens, but have no real idea how to proceed, Bruns said the company starts by working to understand who and what is being recognized. “And then we look at what their goals are, what their marketing goals might be, and ultimately, it comes down to the budget, what do they have in mind,” he said. “We can design a $50 or a $25,000 trophy, and understand all the other parameters. We put the creative together from that event’s logos, colors, and themes.
“I take great pride in working with both high-profile teams and smaller teams and tracks who don’t have a large budget, but do understand the value of giving a unique gift away that is truly personal when it comes to a ring or trophy. What I always keep in mind when designing a trophy is, would everyone who receives it be happy to display it in their home, or just at the shop? We want them displayed in the home, and we can do that with all sorts of budget.”
To get a trophy or ring together takes 8-10 weeks from the initial discussion to delivery of products when it comes to a more tradition form. “A total custom product we’ve never done before, that is brand-new to us, we like three to four months, for sure,” Bruns said.
Recent trends include using more metal in trophies.
“For many years, it was wood in trophies, and now it is back to a combination of metals together, multi-color. They might be silver, gold, and bronze, there are lots of alloys mixed together. That is also true with rings. We are even seeing some unique stuff being done with black powder-coat paint on trophies, as well as an all-black metal ring that the teams have gotten excited about, which we call Black Shadowcast.”
Bruns calls it “an absolute great honor” to have been part of designing the new NASCAR Bill France Award, and is also proud of designing commemorations that are truly memorable for the recipients.
“In the past, they have given out cash,” he said. “Team members say money comes and goes, but the ring is something they have forever, that commemorates their time in a very distinctive and fun sport, something they can truly hand down to their kids someday. You see drivers get very excited, and car owners will realize the value of commemorating milestones for its teams.”
As a well-established name, Jostens is thought of as “the go-to” for shaping those commemorations.
“I go to all NASCAR and IndyCar events,” Bruns said. “We’re a part of the family. And, we give back to the community by getting involved with contingency sponsorships and that kind of thing. We have an old adage, ‘it’s fun to be around celebrations,’ and it is fun, designing rings and trophies for various milestones.”
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