We’re in a NASCAR mood this week, eagerly awaiting the Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard and all the familiar Sprint Cup cars. Everyone knows the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, the No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevy, the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford and so many more.
But on #SpeedRead, we always have a soft spot for the obscure. A few weeks ago, we covered some unusual sponsors for our Indy 500 drivers, which got us thinking about some of the stranger sponsors we’ve seen in Brickyard 400 history. Here’s some of our favorites.
1997: No. 27 Colts Ford. The NFL and racing have mixed over the years, including on cars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In 1973, an Indy 500 entry carried Atlanta Falcons sponsorship, and in ’97 the Colts came on board for one race with David Blair Motorsports. Rick Wilson finished 21st in it.
1999: No. 98 Universal Studios Ford. Rick Mast, the pole sitter for the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994, was back on the grid in 1999 in a unique partnership with Universal Studios. In every race, a stuffed Woody Woodpecker toy was strapped inside the car and later donated to charity. Alas, the No. 98 finished 36th this year. Blame Woody.
2002: No. 98 Stacker 2 Chevy. World’s Strongest Fat Burner! Ummm, OK. Kenny Wallace’s ride is one of the gaudier in Brickyard history, with all those pills spilling out on the hood, front bumper and rear windows. We want to make more pill jokes but will resist. Alas, Kenny Wallace couldn’t keep pace and finished 32nd, two laps down. Which makes us forever wonder what that Victory Circle celebration would have looked like.
2004: No. 45 Brawny Cartoon Classics/Spiderman Dodge. This question has haunted us for years: Who’s tougher, Spiderman or the Brawny dude? If we’re talking flying and climbing, sure, it’s Spiderman all day. But if it’s a lumberjack competition, or cleaning up a light spill, gimme the guy in the flannel shirt. Perhaps Kyle Petty was contemplating this issue while racing to a 23rd-place finish.
2006: No. 34 Race El Paso Dodge. Back in the day at the Indy 500, sometimes a town would pitch in to sponsor a car. A decade ago, Gregg Jackson had a dream to get his hometown of El Paso, Texas, on a car. An attempt to qualify for the 2004 Brickyard 400 failed, but two years later a better team and car emerged with Front Row Motorsports, and Chad Chaffin put it in the show and finished 39th. “I got to experience first-hand the energy that’s focused on that historic piece of ground in Indiana,” Jackson said. And isn’t that what this is all about?