LOUISVILLE, Ky. - After an extensive evaluation of its participation in motorsport, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation (B&W) has announced today that it will end its sponsorship program at the end of the current racing season. The...
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - After an extensive evaluation of its participation in motorsport, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation (B&W) has announced today that it will end its sponsorship program at the end of the current racing season.
The Louisville, Ky.-based company's involvement with motorsport began in 1996 through its partnership with Team Green in the Indy Lights open wheel racing series in support of the company's KOOL cigarette brand. B&W, the nation's third largest manufacturer and marketer of cigarettes, also sponsored a driver-development program and was a co-title sponsor of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Series. KOOL and Team Green entered the CART FedEx Championship for Champ Cars in 1997.
"The decision to end our motorsport sponsorship program was a very difficult one to make," said Ludo Cremers, B&W's divisional vice president.
"Our Team KOOL Green sponsorship program has played a key role in the revitalization of the KOOL brand in the United States," Cremers said. "However, the brand has evolved and the fit with motor racing has become less and less optimal, making it increasingly difficult to achieve an acceptable business return on our motorsport investment.
"As hard as it was to make this decision," he said, "we know it is in the best interests of our current and future business needs." B&W invested more than $120 million in the program since 1996.
"The partnership has been a great one and it has yielded benefits for all involved," said Bert Kremer, former director of sponsorship for B&W who currently serves as a sponsorship consultant to B&W. Kremer has been involved in the program since its inception.
"B&W is proud to have been associated with Team Green, Honda, CART, USDC, Klein Tools, the other co-sponsors and all of our suppliers," Kremer said.
"We're especially grateful for having had the opportunity to be a partner with owner Barry Green and his organization," Kremer continued. "The team he put together, including drivers Paul
Tracy and Dario Franchitti, has given 110 percent in making Team KOOL Green a top organization in open wheel racing. We are confident that the trend will continue with the newly-formed Andretti Green Racing and we wish all of them well in the future."
Barry Green and drivers Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti expressed their appreciation for the partnership with B&W.
"Our association has ensured that Team Green is a first-class operation," stated Green, "and we are extremely grateful for all the company has done for us and for motorsports in general. During our time together we have won 16 races, including five 1-2 finishes, and earned 11 poles. I am well aware of how hard this decision is for them and I appreciate the time and consideration they have given us throughout the process."
"Brown & Williamson has given me everything I could ask as a driver, especially a supportive environment," commented Tracy. "I am very proud of my association with them."
"These (B&W) are the people who gave me the opportunity to win races, contend for the CART championship and have some fun doing it," said Franchitti. "I will miss working with them."
CART statement on Brown & Williamson announcement