Unexpected Racing Sponsors Being Highly Successful

May 26, 2021

  • Motorsports Sponsor Heineken

A racing car is like a moving billboard, so it’s hardly surprising that brands queue up to have the privilege of sponsoring a driver or team. One of the most expensive sports around, sponsorship is vital for motor racing teams and attracting the best sponsors is a serious business.

Over the years, there have been some unusual deals struck, with sponsors that could be described as exceptional. However, despite being unexpected, these have gone on to become highly successful sponsors.

Here’s a look at just a few that could fall into this category.


It’s hard to imagine a less likely combination than motor racing and an alcoholic drinks manufacturer. Yet in 2016, F1 announced a lucrative deal with Heineken, the Dutch brewery which was rumoured to be worth in excess of $200 million.

Despite the unusual partnership, the sponsorship was a roaring success and is set to continue until 2023.

In fairness to Heineken, the brand has always heavily promoted a “when you drink, never drive” message and has a line of non-alcoholic beers advertised at F1 races.


Tyre or petrol companies might seem like a likely sponsor for motorsports – but a gambling firm? One of the top global casino brands, PartyCasino has made a success of sponsoring motorsports and has just signed an exciting new deal.

Taking advantage of a change in NASCAR rules in 2019, PartyCasino sponsored one of the Pinty’s 125 series of races. They also sponsored the #24 Chevrolet Camaro for veteran driver JR Fitzpatrick on his return.

Away from NASCAR, PartyCasino have signed a deal with McLaren Racing to be one of their team sponsors. Taking effect from the Monaco Grand Prix in May 2021, their name will appear on both the racing cars and the helmet of Daniel Ricciardo.


This sponsorship deal was struck in 1975 when the idea of a condom manufacturer sponsoring a race team was pretty shocking to the public. The Surtees team was struggling to survive in F1 when Durex stepped in to offer a hefty chunk of cash.

Desperate for funding, team owner John Surtees accepted the offer, and the now legendary deal was struck. The idea of condom branding was a sensitive one, and the designers worked hard to create a look that would be acceptable to the public. Sadly, the outcry of having a condom manufacturer displayed so prominently forced TV bosses to stop showing live broadcasts of F1 for the season.

It may not have been a popular move with everyone, but it raised awareness of both the Surtees team and the Durex brand immensely, thus making it one of the most influential and successful partnerships in the sport.

Benetton & Benetton

With a slogan that declared “the united colours of Benetton”, Benetton was a knitwear brand that was known for promoting love and acceptance via its use of shocking images.

Alongside its passion for creating controversial campaigns, Benetton became known for sponsoring sports – most notably F1.

In 1983, Benetton made its debut in F1 as a sponsor of Tyrrell, before going on to sponsor Alfa Romeo the following year and then both Alfa and Toleman in 1985.

By the end of 1985, Benetton’s sponsorship had been such a success that the company decided to get even more involved and bought the team. Over the years, the Benetton F1 team enjoyed considerable success. Winning titles with Michael Schumacher in 1994 and 1995, as well as the Constructors Championship in 1995.

Benetton finally bowed out in 2000, selling to Renault for $120 million, making them possibly the most incredible sponsorship success story to date.

Featured Photo by Bruno Martins on Unsplash