A Longtime Sponsor is Gone

Before I get into today’s post, I must indulge in a little shameless self-promotion. When I was loading this post up, I noticed that this is Post #2000 for this site. You may think posting three times a week for ten and one-third years does not add up to 2000. Well keep two things in mind – for the first four months here, I posted every day until that got a little too grueling. I still post every day in the Month of May. Plus, when we attend races – I usually post five to seven times during the weekend. Anyway, I just happened to notice that last night and thought I’d make note of it here today.

When the checkered flag flies at Laguna Seca in a little more than two weeks, it will not only signal the end of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season; it will also bring to an end the longest current continuous fulltime sponsorship in the series. Last weekend we learned that ABC Supply will be ending their longtime partnership with AJ Foyt Enterprises. Ending may not be the correct term since they plan on supporting the team for the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 next May, but they are scaling back significantly.

When Target ended their association with Chip Ganassi Racing at the end of the 2016 season, ABC Supply became the longest continuing primary sponsor in the series. They have been on the car(s) of AJ Foyt’s team since 2005 and have been a loyal supporter of the series. They have been the title sponsor of IndyCar races in Milwaukee and Pocono over the years, as well as supporting one of the most storied, yet underperforming teams in the paddock.

In the fifteen seasons that ABC Supply has been on the sidepods of the Foyt cars, they have been rewarded with one lone victory – when Takuma Sato won at Long Beach in 2013 while driving the No. 14 car made famous by the seven-time IndyCar champion and four-time Indianapolis 500 winner.

I think that because the team has sadly become a perennial backmarker, we have sort of lost site of how loyal ABC Supply has been over the years. Plus, they are more of a B2B industry and they tend to be overlooked more than consumer brands like Target or Marlboro.

Longtime sponsors are nothing new for Foyt. His association with Gilmore Broadcasting was as long as the fifteen years with ABC Supply, and US Tobacco stayed with the legendary Texan for twelve years. He also had multiyear relationships with Harrah’s and Conseco.

Unfortunately, the days of longtime sponsorships appear to be over. Target was with Ganassi for a quarter-century. Philip Morris was with Roger Penske until tobacco legislation made it impossible to continue. Nowadays, many teams have to rotate sponsorships throughout a season in order to function.

With ABC Supply pulling out at the end of the season, are there any guesses who will become the longest running fulltime primary sponsor in the series? I’m guessing Verizon. They originally came on board at Long Beach for Will Power in 2009. But Power was running a partial season that year and some of those races, he carried livery from Penske Truck Rental. Verizon didn’t show up as a fulltime sponsor until 2010. DHL would be a close second, coming aboard Ryan Hunter-Reay’s car for the first time in 2011.

With rotating sponsors now the norm, few cars carry the same livery each race throughout the season. The ABC Foyt cars did, the Arrow SPM cars do and the Andretti car of Hunter-Reay’s DHL car has been the same all season. I’m not sure, but I think Scott Dixon’s PNC livery has been unchanged this year. I think even Zach Veach has been in a different livery for one race this season. Sébastien Bourdais was in Mouser livery at Toronto and Santino Ferrucci’s car has changed all through the season. If you can think of another car that has been the same all season, please let me know.

What does this mean for Foyt going forward? Racer.com reports that Foyt claims they will be fine for next season. I’m not so sure. I’m confident that they will be able to find funding for one car, but I’m not so sure about two. But keep in mind – as bad as this team has been over the years, they were one of the few fully funded teams that a driver did not have to bring money to. I have an idea that will change – especially for the No. 4 car.

Their driver lineup is in flux. I think it’s safe to say that Matheus Leist will probably not return to the team in 2020. That’s no reflection on him, but that car has been slow all season. I just hope that he can rebound from that car. It’s taken Conor Daly two years to recover from his season in that car, to where he is on the brink of driving fulltime again. Jack Hawksworth has not been that fortunate. He’s still trying to rehab his career after his stint in the second Foyt car. Carlos Muñoz is still feeling the effects of his time at Foyt. He hasn’t driven in an IndyCar race all season.

It’s still up in the air if Tony Kanaan returns, but I think it is more his decision than Foyt’s. I think AJ wants Kanaan to return. TK will be forty-five at the end of this year. If he leaves Foyt, I’m not sure how many IndyCar teams are in the market for a forty-five year old driver, no matter how good he is. Kanaan can probably land with a good team’s Indy-only program or return to another full year at Foyt. I don’t know any of this to be true, but that’s how I read the situation.

So it will be an interesting offseason at AJ Foyt Enterprises. They need a sponsor, but they also need to get their act together. Performing or not – IndyCar needs to have the Foyt team involved on a fulltime basis.

But I’d like to say thanks to ABC Supply for fifteen years of supporting an historic team and lending their support to several IndyCar events over the years. Sponsors like that are hard to find these days.

George Phillips

Please Note: There will be no post here on Monday Sep 9, Each year that I can, I take that day off so that I can immerse myself into the NFL Opening Weekend. With no IndyCar race this weekend, I’m able to do it this year. I will return here on Wednesday Sep 11. Please check back then. Go Titans!

9 Responses to “A Longtime Sponsor is Gone”

  1. Congrats on 2,000 posts Geo, and here’s to 2,000 more. Thanks again for all you and Susan do for us fans.

  2. Congratulations on your 2,000th post.

  3. It’s also a milestone for me, as this is likely the 2,000th post from George (and Susan) that I’ve read. So big congratulations on that to me and to a much lesser degree, congratulations to George for writing them. And also…go Colts!

  4. billytheskink Says:

    They will be missed, as most departing sponsors are, but it really is hard to complain about a 15 year run for a sponsor in any economic climate or any level of series popularity. While I am sure they would have preferred to be in victory lane more often, they probably did find the sponsorship effective. ABC Supply was around long enough that they are attached to Foyt and to racing in perpetuity, at least in the minds of Indycar fans.

    Much congratulations on publishing your 2,000th post, George!

    Also, check to see if Rapid Response is playing at a theater near you today. I believe it is a today-only special event at several theaters around the country.

  5. Congrats on your 2000th post, George and Susan. I so enjoy your coverage of IndyCar. Thank you!!

  6. Thanks for two thousand blog posts.

  7. Congrats on 2,000 blogs George! Your love and dedication for all things IndyCar is unmatched! We all salute you!! All Hail to George!!! 🍻💃🕺🏎

  8. Davis Brewer Says:

    TK needs to bring 711 Stores back to Indycar with Foyt

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