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Budweiser to leave NASCAR? Now comes word that one of NASCAR’s longest running sponsors and one many fans consider synonymous with the sport is pulling out. Budweiser had already dropped their official status in 2008 after 9 years. Anheuser-Busch was also a longtime sponsor of the sports most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Junior having sponsored the driver from his debut in 1999 until his defection to Hendrick Motorsports in 2008. It was in 2008 that Bud moved their sponsorship to Gillett-Evernham Motorsports and driver #9-Kasey Kahne [supposedly thru 2010].
Belgian company Inbev purchased Anheuser-Busch [Budweiser] in July of last year, a controversial and unpopular move. Since then the company has been trimming staff and divisions. In December last year the company laid off some 1000 workers or about 6% of its total workforce. And there is talk that when done the layoffs could total up to 15 percent of the total workforce. The company is also rumored to be seeking a buyer for its theme parks, which include Sea World and Busch Garden properties and significantly scaling back their presences in sports.
In motorsports Anheuser-Busch recently announced that they would be ending a 30-year partnership with the NHRA’s Kenny Bernstein. First as a driver and more recently as a team owner, Bernstein has won six championships under the Bud colors. A source confirmed that Budweiser’s decisions concerning the NHRA and going forward would be made to redirect dollars to a non-sports-enthusiast audience. Add to that the fact that over the winter, the Gillett-Evernham team merged with Petty Enterprises to form Richard Petty Racing. The Petty family has always been staunchly against sponsorship from any type of alcoholic beverage maker to the point of refusing to display contingency stickers when one of their teams won a ‘Bud Pole” award. Combined with the economy, the new Anheuser-Busch corporate philosophy and the Petty family legacy 2009 will most likely be the last one for Budweiser. NASCAR Examiner
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