The one-of-a-kind sponsorship is one of the most recent instances of cryptocurrency and professional sports colliding.
Bitcoin is scheduled to make its public debut at America’s most prestigious auto race, the Indianapolis 500, on Sunday.
The No. 21 Bitcoin Chevrolet of IndyCar Series team Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) will line up alongside 32 other cars at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, also known as the Brickyard, due to the pavers that lined the course in its early years. The black-and-orange race car emblazoned with Bitcoin logos is the first to be sponsored by members of the bitcoin (BTC, -0.16% ) community.
“Bringing my personal interest and immersion in Bitcoin to our industry is historic,” team owner Carpenter said in a press release announcing the arrangement earlier this month. “…I see it as an opportunity to reimagine how our own motorsport industry operates.”
ECR’s bitcoin sponsorship is one of the most recent examples of cryptocurrency and professional sports colliding. The Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball announced in March that they would accept bitcoin as payment for season suites. Vivek Ranadivé, Chairman and CEO of the NBA Sacramento Kings, announced last month during a Clubhouse gathering that he would offer bitcoin payment options to his players and staff.
Rinus VeeKay, a Dutch driver and the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year, will drive the black-and-orange car emblazoned with Bitcoin logos, which will also adorn his fire suit and the team’s pit crew uniforms.
Carpenter told AutoWeek on May 13 that he owns bitcoin and views it as a novel way to compete with other racing teams — and sports — for coveted sponsorship money.
“We’re a sponsorship-driven industry, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to compete with other race teams, marketers, and sports properties,” he told AutoWeek. “I’ve been getting involved in this, and I see a lot of potential for transforming the way we conduct business.”
This month, ECR is partnering with the Strike payment app to enable payments and donations. Anyone in the world can donate using a unique QR code — what ECR described in a press release as “the world’s first peer-to-car contribution model.”
Additionally, the racing team is the first in Indy racing to offer its employees the option to pay with bitcoin.
Carpenter explained that he chose the number 21 to represent the 21 million bitcoins created by Satoshi Nakamoto upon the launch of his digital currency.
VeeKay will start from the pole position in Sunday’s race after averaging over 231 mph in last week’s qualifying runs.
“With the strength of the Bitcoin community behind ECR…our team is more than prepared to attack the Indianapolis 500 and claim our first Borg Warner Trophy (awarded to the Indy 500 winner),” Carpenter stated in a May press release. “We want to kiss the bricks, drink the milk, and then watch Bitcoin break through the $100,000 barrier!”