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Old 02-23-2017, 06:43 PM
 
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So.. Again, y'all let me know what you think of these topics.. Don't want to do alot of them, just.. Post some here and there about some of the interesting things that have happened in the sport that newer fans may not be aware of.

Up this time.. The Tabasco Fiasco.. The name given to the biggest cluster eff of a sponsorship situation ever to hit NASCAR.

The year is 1997.. A new team rolls out their shiny new Pontiac with Todd Bodine as the driver, and, admittedly, one hell of a cool looking car sponsored by Tabasco.



That's a nice looking car right there. One of my favorite paint schemes of all time.

Now.. Todd Bodine at the time.. had dabbled in Cup without much success.. Mostly one off runs.. Did some fill-in work at Hendrick when Ricky Craven was out with injuries, but never REALLY turned heads with his runs in Cup. In Busch.. Not a bad driver. Runner up for the championship in 1997, won a few races. Showed some potential, but wasn't setting the world on fire.

The ownership of the car was through ISM Racing. Owned by Bob Hancher who also fielded an IRL team.

The team ran a 'start up' race in 1997 at Charlotte in the fall, where they finished a respectable 26th. Not too bad for a brand new team.

In the 1998 Super Bowl, McIlhenny aired their first commercial. Which was generally ranked as the best Super Bowl commercial of the year.




By early 1998, rumors started swirling that McIlhenny, the makers of Tabasco, were pulling sponsorship. No idea where these rumors started, but they were out there before Daytona even started.

McIlhenny stayed silent.. By all appearances, despite the rumors, they were committed to the NASCAR program and to Todd Bodine. They even put out a cookbook with Bodine and Tabasco recipes.

Daytona arrives.. And the car promptly DNQs. It happens. Daytona is a wildcard and many new teams have DNQed it back in the day.

Rockingham, DNQ.. Vegas.. DNQ.. Atlanta.. They qualify 2nd and finish 10th. Great run for a young team.. They follow that up.. With 3 more DNQ's out of 4 races.

By Dover in June, the car had made 5 of 13 starts.. Things are going very, very poorly. Todd Bodine is shown the door. Gary Bradberry makes a start in the car at New Hampshire, and Tabasco is pissed. Because they had built their entire marketing campaign around Todd Bodine.

Ok.. now, here's where things get really weird and we have to go back to the start of the season.

Darrell Waltrip had signed Speedblock/Hechingers as a replacement sponsor for Western Auto who left at the end of 1997. They promptly went bankrupt and defaulted on the sponsorship.. Waltrip ran unsponsored for a few races, but the money just wasn't there to continue. He even ran a "Tim Flock Special" one race to raise money for the ailing founding star of NASCAR (Who would pass away shortly afterwards). His attempt to number the car #300 for the race was denied by NASCAR.

So, 'ol DW is forced to sell his team to a businessman named Tim Beverly, who named the team Tyler Jet Motorsports. Tyler Jet withdrew from the next few races to get things in order to try and make a successful return to the track. DW went on to fill in for an injured Steve Park at DEI, where the famous "They didn't throw enough dirt on me" line came when he had the last top 5 of his career at.. I believe it was Pocono.

By the time the Brickyard rolls around.. The new Tyler Jet team has cars, but no sponsor. Team Tabasco has a sponsor, but no driver.. so, they put the two together with DW driving. Problem is.. Tyler Jet runs Chevrolet.

DW drives a #35 Tabasco Monte Carlo at finishes 13th. He drives it again at Watkins Glen, finishing a decent 25th.

Tabasco hits the MF-ing roof that not only had they put all this money in to sponsor Todd Bodine, who had been fired, but all their marketing also shows a Pontiac Grand Prix and now even that isn't on the track. And now they're not even paying the people they signed a contract with. They insist that the car be a Pontiac.

Tyler Jet has to reskin all the cars they put together to Pontiacs.. And performance went to pot. DW used a past champions provisional in all but 2 races the rest of the year, and never finished higher than 20th.



Postscripts..

Bob Hancher would fold his IRL team after one more season there.

Tabasco voided the contract at the end of the season and never returned to NASCAR.

Todd Bodine would return to the Busch and Trucks where he would have great success, winning a championship in Trucks in 2006 and 2010. He would continue to dabble in Cup, but never had much success.

DW would be the reason for a change in how past champions provisionals were awarded in NASCAR to prevent a repeat of his usage of it. He would go on to drive 2 years with KMart sponsorship for Haas-Carter in the #66 as a teammate to Jimmy Spencer before retiring at the end of the 2000 season.

Tyler Jet motorsports would sign 10-10-345 as a sponsor with Rich Bickle in 1999, then run mostly unsponsored in the first few races of 2000 with Johnny Benson before selling the team outright to MB2 Motorsports, who would partner with Valvoline to sponsor the car, and be part owners, renaming the team to MBV Motorsports.

Tim Beverly would be convicted of money laundering in 2004 tied to financing the NASCAR team. He served time in federal prison, was released, and went right back to business.
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Old 02-26-2017, 12:09 AM
 
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I remember most of that. I agree, the Tabssco car is one of my favotite paint schemes. Back then you actually had to qualify.
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Old 02-26-2017, 07:27 AM
 
Location: Island of Misfit Toys
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Interesting. I just remember the Bodine's as giant jackasses. lol
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Old 02-26-2017, 08:58 AM
 
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One of the saddest parts of this is that the situation ran off what probably would have been a long term sponsor in NASCAR.

Tabasco was patient.. They understood that they were with a new team, they weren't going to set the world on fire (no pun intended) in the first year.. I think it went worse than they were expecting, but.. They seemed happy to ride it out.

Then the teams all screwed them over. Had they stuck with Bodine all that first year.. I think Tabasco honors the three year contract.. They could have signed a new driver in '99 and Tabasco likely would have been OK with it, so long as they could prepare marketing.

While I doubt Tabasco would be a main primary sponsor today, some 20 years later.. I think they might have stayed around a few years and might be a part-time sponsor with a team.. Where they run 3 to 5 races as primary each year.
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Old 02-26-2017, 08:04 PM
 
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I have that diecast car and the black & red one.
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Old 02-27-2017, 12:10 PM
 
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Those are the schemes.. all of them are pretty cool. I probably couldn't name 10 paint schemes from 1998 overall without seeing them.. But that'd be one of them.
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Old 02-27-2017, 04:11 PM
 
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I had the black & red one I mentioned out of the box while looking for other cars. I should have took a pic. They were all cool schemes. particularly back then.
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Old 02-28-2017, 07:32 AM
 
Location: Island of Misfit Toys
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It is a cool car. One of the few products in nascar I actually use(d). lol Which at this point is close to zero.
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Old 02-28-2017, 05:25 PM
 
Location: Cincinnati, OH
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Great post. I had always wondered what exactly happened with Waltrip in his last few seasons and your post fills in the blanks.
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Old 02-28-2017, 07:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by American Luxury View Post
Great post. I had always wondered what exactly happened with Waltrip in his last few seasons and your post fills in the blanks.
I'm kind of thinking about the next topic in a month or two being the Deaths of the 90's(Orr, Moroso, Bonnett among others) or The 9 year retirement tour of Mark Martin, but I think that one might be too new. Tim Richmond is one that I think we have to do at some point as well. Those who know his name only.. That's sad. He was absolutely amazing. He's one hell of a story.
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