Marlboro. Rothmans. Canon. Martini. Red Bull. No, not the components of one of Taki Inoue’s Monaco pool parties, but classic sponsors which have helped fund racing teams in all sorts of disciplines over the decades. The millions of dollars these companies have provided were no doubt a factor in the successes of the likes of McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull, Porsche and Williams.
But Xena Warrior Princess? SPAM? Probably not. They are, however, bloody funny when adorning the livery of a well oiled racing machine. Here’s a list of 10 ridiculous sponsors you might not have expected to see on a racing car…
Yep. Back in 2001, rock band Aerosmith adorned the Heritage Motorsports car of Jeff Ward for that years Indianapolis 500 as part of a promotion for their new album. Sadly for the team there was to be no Sweet Emotion as Ward finished the great race in 24th. Crazy stuff.
One of the most famously controversial sponsors in Formula 1, condom company Durex sponsored the Surtees team in 1976. So controversial was it in fact, it led the BBC to pull out from early season races so as not to offend viewers.
Everyone’s favourite ‘I’m not entirely sure what that is but I’ll eat it anyway’ meat product, SPAM, appeared on Lake Speed’s #9 NASCAR in 1995. Not content with the exposure gained, they retured again as a sponsor in 1997, this time for the #91 of Mike Wallace. Delicious.
Xena: Warrior Princess
In 1997, the struggling Tyrrell team coined a deal to coincide with the launch of the UKs new TV channel, Channel 5. Naturally the programme that comes to mind when you think of Formula 1 is Xena: Warrior Princess. With Xena on one side of the engine cover and her farmhand sidekick Gabrielle on the other, sadly their battling skills did little to help the team, which disappeared from the grid at the end of the following season.
Over to America again, this time for a skin cream by the name of Boudreaux’s Butt Paste. I wonder what it’s for? Anyway, the decision to have this company’s logo on a car obviously wasn’t a rash one as it’s appeared more than once, notably on the #24 of Kim Crosby and most recently on the #04 of Jeremy Clements. Subtle.
Take A Chance On Me? Probably not the words Slim Borgudd used when he secured an F1 drive with ATS in 1981. The Swedish racing driver was an occasional session drummer for ABBA and upon getting a Formula 1 drive, promptly plonked the ABBA logo along the sidepods in a hope to attract more investors. Despite scoring a point in that years British Grand Prix, eventually the Money Money Money ran out and the era of Swedish pop group sponsorship was over.
Tokyo Ueno Clinic
There’s nothing outwardly strange about the 1995 Le Mans winning McLaren F1. That main sponsor though – ‘Tokyo Ueno Clinic’ – what is that? Well, it turns out it’s a Japanese plastic surgery clinic with a speciality in…how do we put this…’gentlemen sausages’. Presumably winning the worlds most famous endurance race was great publicity for them, and hey, at least they didn’t make complete cocks of themselves…or maybe they did?
In 2012 Markus Pommer competed in the Formula 2 championship with sponsorship from this website. What the content of that website is, we have no idea. It’s either something NSFW or something to do with car restoration.
NASCAR again, and last year everyone’s favourite hot-headed Colombian ran a livery with a giant Taylor Swift face on the bonnet in the Kansas round as a promotion for her new album, Red. I’m not sure NASCAR fans are Swift’s target audience but hey, that’s marketing for you!
In the early 2000s, Mark Martin raced in NASCAR with Viagra sponsorship. He must have had quite a hard job keeping up as he only won a handful of races during that time. Martin has had a long lasting career which has yet to go flaccid as he still competes at the front of the NASCAR field.