Let’s look at the most iconic racing sponsors in NASCAR history. From success, to impact, and everything in between, see if you agree!
Some of NASCAR’s most iconic racing sponsors are forever linked with the sport’s greatest moments. Undoubtedly some of the images in your mind of your personal favorite moments will have NASCAR sponsors at the forefront of them. From the cars, drivers, tracks, and even the Cup Series itself, sponsors are an integral part of NASCAR’s history.
With that in mind, let’s take a look back at the most iconic racing sponsors in the sport’s history. We’ll dive into several eras of NASCAR history and find a blend of success and impact as we analyze the sponsors that helped make the sport what it is today.
The cigarette brand Winston first entered the sport in 1971 as the title sponsor and remained in NASCAR for over 30 years. Owned by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, the Winston brand’s sponsorship helped usher NASCAR into a more modern era and oversaw some of its greatest moments and drivers during its tenure.
It’ll be the only title sponsor on the list, but it’s worth a spot, given the impact it had. To this day, it is the longest-running title sponsor in the sport’s history. It left after the 2003 season amidst tightening laws regarding tobacco sponsorships. For many NASCAR fans though, it’s still the first sponsor that comes to mind when talking about the sport.
GM Goodwrench served as the sponsor for Dale Earnhardt’s No. 3 car at Richard Childress Racing from 1988 to 2001, and continued to provide sponsorship to Kevin Harvick until 2007. The sponsor rode along for four NASCAR Winston Cup titles, as well as Dale Earnhardt’s 1998 Daytona 500 victory, one of 54 races won during their tenure.
Aside from their on-track success, the sponsor helped create “The Intimidator” persona for Earnhardt. The all-black paint scheme gave off menacing vibes. Drivers knew to expect hard racing when they saw it in their mirrors. The sponsor is synonymous with Earnhardt and the No. 3, and it will always be among the most iconic racing sponsors.
From a sponsor of one seven-time champion to another. Lowe’s sponsored Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 car from 2001 to 2019. The company rode along with Johnson for all seven of his championships. It also totaled 85 wins in the Cup Series, making it the most successful sponsor in terms of race wins.
An entire generation of NASCAR fans got used to seeing Lowe’s run at the front, and it was constantly in sight with Johnson’s success. This one definitely falls more on the “success” side of the spectrum than “impact.” It has to be included though as one of the most iconic racing sponsors given the sheer amount of wins and championships it helped create on the side of the No. 48.
Sticking with Hendrick Motorsports, DuPont served as the primary sponsor for Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 car from 1992 to 2013. The company sits just one win behind Lowe’s for most wins in Cup Series history at 84, while helping Gordon through all four of his championships.
Perhaps what DuPont will most be known for are its paint schemes. While the bright flames Gordon rocked at the end of his time with DuPont were great, the rainbow paint scheme on the No. 24 is one of the most iconic looks in NASCAR history. Alone it was a sight to behold, but running at the front and in championship contention on a weekly basis cemented it as a fan favorite and an all-time classic paint scheme that will forever be remembered.
The Alcohol Sponsors: Molson Coors and Anheuser-Busch
Each of these companies’ subsidiaries could have their own spots, but we’ll condense them into just one. Molson Coors owns Miller Lite (78 wins) and Coors Light (39 wins), which combined have a total of 117 wins in the NASCAR Cup Series. Miller Lite especially has seen some of the sport’s premier drivers take it on. From Bobby Allison and Rusty Wallace in its earlier days, to Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski more recently, Miller Lite has graced some of the best cars and drivers the sport has known.
Anheuser-Busch is similarly impactful. With Budweiser (64 wins) and Busch (24 wins) under its umbrella, the company is up there among the best in the sport’s history in terms of success. Budweiser has been around NASCAR since the late 1970s. It is perhaps most synonymous though with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s early career at DEI, winning 17 races with him. Busch’s sponsorship also dates back to their time with Cale Yarborough. The company even extended as far as sponsoring NASCAR’s second-tier national circuit from 1984-2007.
Considering all the above, there’s no doubt that these companies are among the most iconic racing sponsors in NASCAR’s history.
You can’t leave the G.O.A.T. off the list. Richard Petty’s partnership with STP began all the way back in 1972. The company has 60 wins during its time in NASCAR, most with Petty as a driver. What makes this relationship special is that 51 years later, the two are still together. STP has sponsored Legacy Motor Club (formerly Petty GMS) since 2011 after initially coming on board from 1972-2000.
Fans also got an amazing paint scheme from STP, with the company adding their Day-Glo red to Petty’s iconic light blue when the two joined forces.
We’ll end off with a sponsor that is maybe more known for their off-track presence. Coca-Cola currently has four drivers signed on to its brand, including recently crowned champion Joey Logano, and has 28 wins as a racing sponsor. Its presence on race weekends is second to none. You’ll see it on mid-race ads, sponsor boards, and in pre and post-race festivities as Coca-Cola products find their way into drivers’ hands nearly every time they appear on camera.
The company also sponsors two races per year: the Coke 600 at Charlotte and the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona. The eNASCAR series is even sponsored by Coca-Cola, who took on the role of title sponsor in 2020. While other brands dominate in track, Coca-Cola takes the cake off of it.
Honorable Mentions: NASCAR’s Most Iconic Racing Sponsors
NASCAR is full of iconic sponsors from its history. Here are some honorable mentions who didn’t quite make the list.
- NAPA Auto Parts
- The Home Depot
- Mountain Dew