The ever-expanding traditions around NASCAR racing have shaped the way we watch the races today. From the Budweiser Duel at Daytona to kissing the bricks at Indy, these customs have become just as significant to NASCAR fans as the races themselves. And along with that comes, of course, the moving billboards, with every inch of the exterior of a racer’s car covered in advertisements and sponsors.
The tradition of sponsored cars started with local businesses when NASCAR was first founded in 1948. However, the excessive nature of the advertising wasn’t ignited until late 1970 when new legislation limited cigarette advertising on television. That’s when R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company stepped in and sponsored a $100,000 championship series, the Winston Cup.
Since then, many influential companies have joined in sponsoring drivers and races alike, taking ample advantage of the advertising potential. However, one NASCAR driver is paving the way for an entirely new, charitable way of utilizing sponsors.
Alex Bowman competes full time in the NASCAR Cup Series. Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Bowman considers the Phoenix Raceway to be his home track. During Bowman’s most recent race, rather than sporting Adam’s Polishes or Truck Hero’s logos on his iconic No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro, he honored the nonprofit Best Friends Animal Society.
As he enjoys his career-best year of racing, Bowman wanted to pay tribute to a cause near and dear to his heart — no-kill animal shelters. “Their goal is to end kill shelters and to ‘save them all,'” Bowman said of the nonprofit. “There’s a lot of animals that are in need of a home and I have a rescue dog named Roscoe, so it’s something I’m really passionate about.”
Bowman’s full-season primary sponsor Ally Financial will be making a $1,000 donation to a Best Friends-affiliated shelter in each city that hosts a NASCAR Cup Race. Bowman will also personally match each donation made by Ally, resulting in both the company and the driver donating a whopping $33,000 to animal shelters!
In addition to this generous contribution, Ally has also pledged to donate $10,000 to the local shelter in any city where Bowman wins the race. “It’s hard to motivate me any harder than I already am,” Bowman continued. “But that donation going up is really cool. I really want to win knowing that we can help a lot more animals if we do win. It’d be really cool to make that happen.”
Like many pet parents who see their rescues as part of the family, Bowman is always thinking of Roscoe and his other pup, Finn, when he’s away racing. “At home, Roscoe’s all well-behaved and Finn’s the wild child,” he recalled fondly, “but as soon as you get outside of the house, Roscoe is awful and Finn is like an angel.”
Overall, Bowman aims not only to raise money for no-kill shelters across America, but hopes to raise awareness about the plethora of animals in need of adoption and forever homes. “You’re really saving a life when you go adopt an animal,” he said. “I think it’s a great thing to do.”
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