Photos courtesy of Rising Star Racing

‘Sup, dog? Pigot’s Long Beach car features ‘Loki the Wolfdog’ support

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File this one under the “cool, new and different” category: Spencer Pigot’s usual No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet will have a different primary sponsor this week, as the backing of his Ed Carpenter Racing entry shifts from alcohol to a canine.

Seriously.

Loki the Wolfdog, something of an Instagram sensation with more than 1.4 million followers on the picture-heavy social media platform, will serve as primary sponsor of Pigot’s No. 20 Chevrolet this weekend at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Sunday, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Pigot and fellow Rising Star Racing-supported driver Neil Alberico, who competes with Carlin in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series, got connected to Loki and the opportunity snowballed from there. Loki’s owner Kelly Lund documents the dog’s adventures, and Loki has been contracted to work with key brands such as Google, REI, The North Face, Toyota and Mercedes.

“Loki is basically the coolest dog out there, and he’s a serious force when it comes to connecting household brands with that elusive millennial audience,” Art Wilmes, founder of Rising Star Racing, said in a release. “We decided to team up with him to spread the word about our drivers, the Verizon IndyCar Series, and the Mazda Road to Indy. We’re beyond pleased to have Loki with us on Spencer Pigot’s car for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. RSR is stretching the boundaries of promotion once again by combining the coolest canine out there with our wheel-man Spencer Pigot.”

Lund added, “Loki and I are all about new adventures, and getting involved with Rising Star Racing and its drivers is the next big trip for us. My life with Loki is unconventional, and I was drawn to Rising Star Racing because they’re taking a unique look at the racing world and making a huge difference in the lives of these drivers. I never thought I’d see Loki’s face on the side of a race car, but we’re beyond stoked and can’t wait to see Spencer (Pigot’s) car when we get to the track!”

As noted, Loki and Lund are expected to be in attendance at Long Beach.

“It’s going to be great to have Loki with us this weekend in Long Beach,” Pigot said. “His following on Instagram is incredible, and I really hope he enjoys his time with us in the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock. Loki has an adventuresome spirit and I think this will be a really special experience for both of us. Rising Star Racing is providing another creative way to generate exposure and I’m really happy to be part of it.”

With Preferred Freezer Services as primary sponsor for JR Hildebrand’s No. 21 Chevrolet, it’ll be a weird, Fuzzy’s non-primary weekend for Ed Carpenter Racing at Long Beach.

As far as we can recall, this is the first dog-related sponsorship in racing since the Dogecoin effort backed Josh Wise in NASCAR a few years ago, and Wise made a surprise trip getting voted into NASCAR’s All-Star Race thanks to the popularity of the Dogecoin supporters.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.