Sponsors tough to come by

JIM CRESSMAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

DELAWARE -- In these uncertain economic times, NASCAR has become a dog-eat-dog world. And the bite hurts.

Just ask Brandon Bellinger, a Fulton, N.Y. native who moved to North Carolina in December 2007, armed with an engineering degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology, to work for Bill Davis Racing.

The "now-former" NASCAR engineer earns a living operating a housing rental website -- when he's not racing his supermodified.

Bellinger, 25, is a third-generation driver and was the International SuperModified Association rookie of the year in 2006.

He said the one positive that came from Bill Davis Racing's demise is that he can once again race full-time and was at Delaware Speedway on the weekend instead of at Watkins Glen, N.Y. for a Sprint Cup race.

Bellinger's father Eddie raced at Oswego Speedway with the likes of Jim Shampine, Warren Coniam, Bentley Warren and Dave Shullick, whose son Dave Jr. won yesterday's ISMA 50-lap feature.

Bill Davis Racing had been in all three of NASCAR's top divisions -- Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Trucks -- and noted for running Toyotas.

BDR's Johnny Benson won the truck championship last year and would have been at Delaware in a supermodified this weekend had it not been for a June 13 accident in a super. He'd raced here with ISMA the previous two years.

BDR had enjoyed a long relationship with Caterpillar, but the tough times saw that coming to an end and Davis sold to Triad Racing Technologies late last year.

With sponsors at a premium, Triad shut down the racing entries to produce engines and chassis for all Toyota NASCAR teams.

"It's real tough to get sponsors and some of the smaller teams, if they don't get the results, the companies feel it's better to go with the guys that are getting talked about all the time because they're winning races," Bellinger said.

"I talked to a couple other teams but the thing that's hard about it is that to move up in the NASCAR business you have to go to race tracks for 40 long weekends of the year.

"That means I couldn't race supers and for me that's hard to do. I grew up around these. I had to come up with the next plan to make some money and race supers at the same time."

He had a website built (houserentalconnection.com) for people who want to list condos, houses and townhomes.

Bellinger keeps in touch with his NASCAR buddies, who rib him about racing an open-wheel car. "But as far as I'm concerned these are the coolest, baddest race cars around."

Bellinger said last year while at Delaware that the good old boys of NASCAR "don't know what a real race car is. They think some of those taxi cabs (his term for Sprint Cup cars) are fast."

He heard about that his first day back to work after someone read the quotes online.

"To me there's no comparison to any other race car," he said yesterday. "They look like a race car. They don't look like a Chevy Monte Carlo driving down the street."


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