Welcome back, MillerCoors, to INDYCAR in an official capacity.
MillerCoors has been present within the series in recent years as sponsor of Miller Lite Carb Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and spent decades in North American open-wheel racing prior to that.
Most recently on the team side, MillerCoors worked with Bobby Rahal and his team in the 1990s to early 2000s (through 2001). Scott Dixon had a one-off race in a Coors Light car in Denver in 2002, a silver livery for Chip Ganassi Racing.
The beer giant is now back, confirmed Tuesday as official beer and cider of INDYCAR in a multiyear agreement. Beyond the title, MillerCoors plans to activate its status in many Verizon IndyCar Series race markets – and that’s a key point.
Here’s the full release from INDYCAR:
A longtime partner and sponsor in Indy car racing, MillerCoors has reached a multiyear partnership agreement with INDYCAR that will see the second-largest brewer in the United States become the official beer and cider of INDYCAR and activate its status in many Verizon IndyCar Series race markets.
“We’re delighted to welcome MillerCoors back to INDYCAR and excited to add another commercial partner to the Verizon IndyCar Series,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “The key to this partnership is MillerCoors’ plans to activate in many of our race markets, which we’re confident is an essential component in furthering the momentum of the Verizon IndyCar Series this season.”
Coors Light will serve as the lead brand of the INDYCAR partnership, but other MillerCoors products will be integrated into the program.
MillerCoors brands have enjoyed iconic status in Indy car racing dating to the 1970s when Miller Brewing Company began a team sponsorship role that lasted nearly three decades. Drivers the caliber of Al Unser, Danny Sullivan and Bobby Rahal all raced with sponsorship from Miller brands, including Sullivan’s improbable “spin and win” performance in the 1985 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race that remains today as one of the favorites in Indy 500 lore.
Sullivan (1988) and Rahal (1992) each drove to an Indy car season championship carrying the colors of Miller brands. Miller was also a longtime race title sponsor of the annual Indy car race at The Milwaukee Mile.
The Coors brands debuted in Indy car racing with another legend, Al Unser Jr., whose first season of competition in 1983 came with Coors Light sponsorship. Unser Jr. won the first of his two Indianapolis 500s in 1992 with sponsorship from Molson, another MillerCoors brand. Other Indy car drivers who have raced Indy cars with sponsorship from Coors brands include Pancho Carter, Robby Gordon, Buddy Lazier and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon.
The MillerCoors relationship with Hulman & Co. began with Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 under the Miller Lite brand. MillerCoors is the official beer sponsor of IMS, and will present the May 27 Miller Lite Carb Day and the Coors Light Snake Pit concert on race day.
Today’s announcement furthers an already strong relationship with the Verizon IndyCar Series. In February, MillerCoors announced that Coors Light would be the official beer of the Grand Prix of Boston Powered by LogMeIn this September. The brewer also will be an associate sponsor with Penske Racing on Juan Pablo Montoya’s car for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, through its Henry’s Hard Soda brand.
“Becoming the official beer sponsor of the Verizon IndyCar Series perfectly rounds out our activation and consumer engagement with the sport,” said Adam Dettman, director of sports and entertainment marketing at MillerCoors. “Whether it’s through the league sponsorship, track and race alliances, or our long-standing partnership with Penske Racing, we’ll use our portfolio of brands to connect with race fans and add to the excitement surrounding the sport.”