In the last 50 years, NASCAR Sprint Cup has changed in so many different ways. In the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s cars were more like stock cars, the drivers were rugged and some even harsh. Most drivers were from the eastern side of the country where the hills from the Smokey Mountains sit. Mechanics and teams finding spare parts out from old junk cars to fund their racing. Drivers like Junior Johnson, Curtis Martin and many others got their experience on some back country dirt road deep where the tobacco grows.
Sponsorship became a major part in our sport in the late 70’s and 80’s. Fortune 500 companies started realizing the impact that sponsorship had in stock car racing. Quickly names such as Busch, Skoal, Mountain Dew, Kodak, Wrangler and Winston were painted on the hood’s and quarter panels of the race cars. Companies were ready to cash in on a booming cash cow that would explode into the 2nd favorite American Sport, NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series.
Busch, AKA, Budweiser has had a very important part in NASCAR and has been very loyal to the motorsport. They have sponsored series, races, drivers and teams and have been doing so since the 70’s. Busch partnered with legendary Cale Yarbrough driving for Junior Johnson in the mid 70’s but did fade away for a short time mainly putting their money in other areas.
After taking a few years off from being on the side of race cars, Budweiser returned to sponsor Glenn Jarrett in the 1982 Atlanta Journal Constitution 500. Just for one race Budweiser used that opportunity to advertise a new lighter beer the company had developed, Budweiser Light. Of course, now we know that certain product is called Bud Light.
In 1983, Budweiser returned to full time sponsorship when they signed on with a young Texas born driver Terry Labonte. Terry landed the sponsorship for one year, but then Budweiser returned to its former nest and signed back on with Junior Johnson. From 1984 thru 1994, Budweiser and Johnson combined for almost 30 wins between several drivers.
Darrell Waltrip won Budweiser its only championship in 1985, but in the last 29 years has had some absolute talent in the race cars they have sponsored. In 1986 a young glowing spirited driver and son of a driver got a special chance to race at his home track in Talladega, Alabama. Subbing for an injured Neil Bonnett, Davey Allison was given the steering wheel to the #12 Budweiser Junior Johnson Cheverolet. Allison finished 7th in only his 3rd career start. That finish secured the deal that landed Davey in the #28 Harry Rainer Ford in 1987 when Cale Yarbrough departed, but the company was eventually known as Robert Yates Racing.
Besides D.W. and Texas Terry, Budweiser has sponsored Neil Bonnett , Geoff Bodine, Bill Elliott, Ken Schrader, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and now Kevin Harvick in a span of 29 years.Budweiser has contributed so much to our sport NASCAR and at the same time had some great relationships with some of the best drivers in the world. In an economy like we have now we really owe it to Budweiser for sticking with the sport after so many other companies have come and gone. They have built a trust in the sport that is hard to come by and should be welcomed as times get even harder.
Maybe Budweiser can talk Kevin Harvick into changing his number from #29 to #30 in tribute to the 30 years of racing next season?
Chris Creighton is a member of the NASCAR media and a writer for RantSports.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @FlagofCaution for all the latest updates in the racing community.