In one of the most dramatic Indianapolis 500 race finishes in recent memory, “part time” driver Dan Wheldon zipped by rookie JR Hildebrand when the latter, leading the race, crashed in the final turn.
Wheldon commemorated his win by going above and beyond for his car’s sponsors, especially William Rast, the brand co-owned by Justin Timberlake and sold at Target. But Wheldon wasn’t the only race car driver throwing around the Wiliam Rast brand name on Memorial Day weekend, even if he was the only winning one.[more]
Ever the professional, Wheldon proved the work of winning driver isn’t done at the checkered flag. In the winner’s circle, Wheldon threw on his “William Rast Racing” hat for a few minutes before putting on his Firestone hat. Wheldon said, “I feel like a fashionista. I’m going to be wearing jeans tomorrow night. I know I’m supposed to dress smart, but I’m going to be wearing my William Rast Jeans.”
Thanks to Timberlake’s attachment to the brand, William Rast was reaping the exposure by Sunday evening. The TMZ headline? “Justin Timberlake WINS Indy 500!!” Timberlake, naturally, tweeted his excitement at Sunday’s win:
Meanwhile, two days before the race, a high profile fixture of the Indycar circuit, if not its winners’ circles, announced a brand new sponsorship deal with William Rast.
Danica Patrick’s partnership with William Rast Racing will initially focus on the brand’s eyewear. At the announcement, Patrick joked that she already had 100 pairs of the brand’s sunglasses, which is 99 more than she has Indy wins. On Sunday, Patrick was leading in the 188th lap (of the 200 lap race) when she was forced to make a pit stop for fuel, resulting in her final 10th place finish. It could be her final Indy.
Patrick currently races under the GoDaddy.com sponsorship and appears in many of its commercials (the ones where, despite promises, nothing “happens next.”) But rumors suggest that Patrick will make the move to NASCAR next year. Even the GoDaddy CEO has fueled the NASCAR speculations, saying, “She hasn’t told me she will, but I believe she will and we’ll be ready. Here’s the fact: She loves NASCAR, it’s much more exciting than Indy Car, with all due respect, and the TV audience for NASCAR is off the hook.”
It appears both brands are prepared to follow the media-friendly driver to NASCAR.
So why isn’t William Rast doing more to take advantage of its William Rast Racing partnerships?
This is William Rast’s fourth year as a sponsor of an Indy 500 car, so, maybe it’s about time the brand includes something on its site about this involvement. While the brand is clearly proud of its involvement, it seems it isn’t at all taking advantage of its racing success other than announcing it’s takng Wheldon on a national media tour, including an upcoming spot on Indy native (and racing fan) David Letterman.
One quick win: snap up WilliamRastRacing.com. Patrick’s pals at GoDaddy.com indicate the domain is available for $11.99 a year.
[At top, photo via Adam Fick on Flickr]