By Aaron Bearden, Open Wheel Editor
Tequila Patron is leaving the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (WTSCC) at the end of the 2018 season, terminating sponsor relationships with both a team and the series.
The alcohol brand has served as the title sponsor of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup (NAEC) – a special four-race competition comprised of the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen and Petit Le Mans – since 2014, where it also became IMSA’s Official Spirits Partner.
Michelin will take Tequila Patron’s place as title sponsor for the NAEC beginning in 2019 as part of the French tire manufacturer’s efforts to increase their involvement in IMSA.
Along with their series partnership, Tequila Patron has also served as the primary sponsor of Extreme Speed Motorsports since 2010. The group have run under the Tequila Patron ESM name for the tenure, earning wins in the Rolex 24, Sebring and Petit Le Mans along the way. To date the pairing have 40 podiums and 71 top fives.
ESM plans to continue their involvement in IMSA’s WTSCC, and noted in a statement that they are “actively pursuing sponsors” for the 2019 and beyond.
“On behalf of the entire Extreme Speed Motorsports organization, it has been an honor to represent such an amazing brand for the past 13 years,” ESM Team Owner Scott Sharp said. “I have the deepest gratitude for all of Ed Brown’s support.
“Together we have tackled various challenges, won races at each step, and built ESM into such an incredible team. Simultaneously, it has been thrilling to watch Ed and his team build the Patrón brand in a meteoric fashion and along the way become an icon in the motorsports world. We will miss not carrying the now infamous green and black livery, but the same passion for excellence will remain.”
The move continues Patron’s leave of motorsports at the end of 2018 as part of a pivot in strategy following the company’s acquisition by Bacardi in January. They left NHRA at the end of 2017 following the retirement of sponsored driver Alexis DeJoria.
Patron leaves a legacy in sports car racing that began in 2008, when they sponsored Highcroft Racing. They’ve also served as a sponsor of both the Patron GT3 Challenge and ALMS, along with their recent partnerships with the WTSCC.
“All associated with IMSA – competitors, promoter partners, series officials and fans – will miss the iconic Tequila Patrón brand next year,” IMSA President Scott Atherton said in a release. “On behalf of IMSA, we thank CEO Ed Brown and Tequila Patrón for all they have done over the many years to help us grow IMSA and the sport as a whole. We’re more proud than words can express to have counted Tequila Patrón among our family of premium brand partners.
“Tequila Patrón’s involvement on-and-off the track has been a benchmark example by every measure. We will look forward to finishing up our 2018 season in the strongest and most successful way possible and will look forward to the opportunity to work together again in the future.”