From the Indy 500 paddock: Drivers’ most unusual sponsors

Published On June 28, 2016 » 2732 Views» By Phillip B. Wilson » Blogs, IMS, Indy 500

Drivers participating in the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil were asked by IMS.com correspondent Phillip B. Wilson to name the most unusual sponsor in their racing careers.

MORE “FROM THE INDY 500 PADDOCK”: Nicknames | Favorite snacks

Bryan Clauson, Dale Coyne/Jonathan Byrd’s Racing: “We have Murello’s Bail Bonds from Noblesville. It’s right in my hometown, in case I ever get in trouble.”

Sebastien Bourdais, KVSH Racing: “Probably Cialis.” (Did he receive a lifetime supply?) “No. It would have been expired by the time I needed it.”

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan with Theodore Racing: “QuickTrim was weird.”

A weightloss sponsor was aboard Graham Rahal's car in 2010.

A weightloss company was aboard Graham Rahal’s car in 2010.

Alexander Rossi, Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian: “I guess a random one was AirAsia, considering I didn’t race in Asia and I was American and AirAsia didn’t exist anywhere I was, that’s a little bit random. But it was a great sponsor. I worked with them for three years.”

Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport: “I’ve had a gun store. Indianapolis Trading Post, I think it was.”

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing: “I got Vaseline Men’s Care at one point.”

Takuma Sato, A.J. Foyt Enterprises: “The crab guy.” (Japanese crab importer, Noguchi. Will he put a crab logo on the car?) “A.J. would never allow me to.”

Matt Brabham, PIRTEK Team Murray: “The most unique one is the partnership with the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation. That’s really, really cool. To be a part of a military organization like that is really special.”

Alex Tagliani, A.J. Foyt Enterprises: “When I was here on the pole in 2011, the Bowers & Wilkins sponsorship car was for a high-end speaker company. When I had moved to Las Vegas in 2000, I was buying Bowers & Wilkins speakers. My friend had an audio/video company and he installed Bowers & Wilkins speakers in the homes I was building and selling for like eight years. In 2010, when I tried to re-join Indy car and build our own team, we had Bowers & Wilkins as a sponsor. I called the owner and he decided to sponsor us. I never thought I would get a sponsor like that, but maybe he felt sorry for me. I made contributions to his company for eight years and finally I got the sponsorship. It was interesting I was carrying this brand in my homes without knowing they would eventually be a sponsor.”

Charlie Kimball, Chip Ganassi Racing: “When I was racing in Europe, Calavo, the California avocado company that my grandmother grows for, my parents grow for, they were trying to grow their European exposure. They brought a couple of vendors out. Calavo was good.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport: (His wife Beccy mentions when Ethanol was a sponsor) “He got me a T-shirt that said, ‘My Boyfriend is a Corn Star.’”

Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2008: Corn Star. Heehee.

Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2008: Corn Star. Heehee.

Townsend Bell, Andretti Autosport: “I don’t know that I’ve had anything unusual. I had an approach from what was described as a sophisticated European adult film site. But the discussions never really went too far.”

Jack Hawksworth, A.J. Foyt Enterprises: “Probably NRG, who was on my car in 2014 with Bryan Herta. It was an energy drink which didn’t exist. I don’t think it did. We can laugh at it now, but I don’t think Bryan was laughing at the time. I don’t really know what happened. All I know is they got completely ripped off the car a few races later.”

Stefan Wilson, KV Racing Technology: “Probably Innovative Solar. They’re on board in May and hopefully they’ll be on board in the future. It’s a solar company that installs pretty large solar farms around the country. I want to use that solar energy on my pit crew.”

Carlos Munoz, Andretti Autosport: “I have UFD, but I don’t have the UFD girls. I’ll have to ask the owner about that.”

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Phillip B. Wilson

Phillip B. Wilson came to the Indianapolis 500 as a kid, got hooked and has been coming back every year since. He considers himself lucky to have covered the race for two decades for The Indianapolis Star. In August 2014, he joined the Scout online network as publisher of ColtsBlitz.com and PacersPress.com Web pages. But May is his favorite time of year. He can't be more ecstatic about his second year working for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a correspondent.
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