Why Menard’s Indy 500 Decision Is So Disappointing

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Photo from twitter.com

In the past, John Menard placed his immense IndyCar sponsorship money for the good of the sport with drivers and teams who needed it – not with super teams who don’t.

On Tuesday Team Penske announced a partnership with the Midwesterner Menard for three races this season, including the all important 100th Indy 500. His sponsorship dollars will go to the irascible Frenchman Simon Pagenaud‘s 22 car for three races, culminating at Road America in Menard’s home state of Wisconsin. This decision by the “Save Big Money” man is highly disappointing, to say the least.

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Photo from speedsport-magazine.com

In one sense, we at IRR appreciate Menard’s recently announced IndyCar backing, which used to be a staple of the series. Like many, we welcome the prodigal billionaire back. Also appreciated are his cars’ distinctive day-glow paint schemes, adding much to open wheel racing’s aesthetic. Last but not least, the billionaire’s backing of the 100th Indy 500 admittedly is also a gracious, though self serving, gesture. But that’s where the rub comes in, as his backing in this case is badly misplaced.

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Citing a lack of “fun,” Menard jumped ship to NASCAR back in 2004 after sponsoring IndyCar teams for twenty five years. Menard’s IndyCar drivers included the late Scott Brayton, Greg Ray and a younger, slimmer and more sane Tony Stewart. Continue reading

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