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Coca-Cola Racing Family Through The Years

Written by AJ Appeal -

Motorsports has had the world's largest companies assist with their operating costs through sports marketing and sponsorships since the beginning. Through the years some drivers and teams have welcomed partnerships from family owned businesses while others have had access to Fortune 500 brands.

When King Richard Petty's car adorned the now famous STP red, and Petty Blue in the 1970s, many of the drivers in the field started to sport well-known drink brands. From icy cold adult beverages such as Coors and Budweiser, to frosty and fizzy sodas like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, drink industries noticed the massive return on investment that existed through partnerships with NASCAR drivers.

The Coca-Cola Company endorsed many drivers over the years, first with a one time sponsorship of Joe Weatherly at Darlington in 1959. Beginning in 1970, they supported primarily Bobby Allison, while additionally promoting the #37 of Don Tarr on a part-time basis. Other drivers carried the Coca Cola livery including Earl Ross, David Hobbs, Chuck Bown, John Krebs, Dave Marcis, and even Jeff Gordon for a short time.

After becoming one of the hottest drivers in NASCAR in the early 1990s, Jeff Gordon was one of the first of the next-generation of Coca-Cola drivers. His famed #24 DuPont Chevrolet carried along the Coca-Cola banner on the decklid in the 1994 and 1995 seasons. At the end of the 1995 year, his contract ended with Coke, and Gordon became an overnight advertising sensation when he signed with rival Pepsi.

Pepsi had promoted different drivers over the years including hall-of-famers Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip, but this was the first time their brand was as reputable in