Indianapolis 500: A look back when sponsorships favored shops.
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Indianapolis 500: A look back when sponsorships favored shops.

Back in the day, when a decal of a company was displayed on a car at the Indianapolis 500, it was only for three reasons: the company provided the team with a service; the company was paying contingency money if the car used its parts and placed well; or a wealthy sponsor saw it as a way to entertain customers at the greatest spectacle in racing.


d after the race and only if the driver and car did well.


many belond exhaust systems were sold when the cigar-chomping jim bryan won in 1958.

There were no energy drinks, laundry detergents or preppy clothing brands advertised on the cars. There were also no contracts. Often, it was just the local rep of the company handing out the product, technical help and stickers in Gasoline Alley. Some tool and parts companies even set up shop in Gasoline Alley with alignment, welding and electronic equipment so the teams  could repair their cars.

andy granatelli sold a lot of stp after their 1969 win. wagner lockheed was a constant presence at the speedway due to its work with aircraft brakes.

It all changed when the cars became faster and the race took less time to run. This enabled broadcasters to put the race on TV. By 1971, the race was shown in its entirety during primetime on tape delay. The final straw was in 1986 when the race was televised live. TV brought more lucrative consumer product sponsors, but forced the aftermarket sponsors from most of the cars.
This is the side of Graham Hill’s 1966 race-winning Lola. The car was sponsored by a moving company, but every decal on the side of the car represented a product, service or tool used by the team in the month of May.

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