On Tuesday (July 17), Tequila Patrón announced their brand of tequila will leave sports car racing at the end of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season. The move ends a 13-year relationship with Extreme Speed Motorsports and a 14-year run in motorsports for Patrón Tequila.
Patron Tequila first dipped their toes into racing with an 11th-hour deal to sponsor Kevin Lepage in the 2005 Daytona 500. Lepage, driving for John Carter, started eighth and finished ninth. That led to an expansion of Patrón Tequila’s backing to four additional races. Once that was done, Patrón Tequila looked for additional ways to quench their racing thirst. The American Le Mans Series proved to be a good fit. They raced in prototypes before switching to a GT class Ferrari. Once ALMS and Grand-Am merged, the team switched back to prototype racing.
That’s where they’ve been until this announcement. Now, the liquor company has chosen to leave sports car racing altogether.
“On behalf of the entire Extreme Speed Motorsports organization, it has been an honor to represent such an amazing brand for the last 13 years,” team owner Scott Sharp wrote in a statement. “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 an incredible team.
“It has been thrilling to watch Ed and his team build the Patrón brand in meteoric fashion. We will miss carrying the now infamous green and black livery, but the same passion for excellence will remain.”
Ed Brown, the president and CEO of Patrón Spirits, raced at ESM for many years until choosing to retire from prototype racing in the middle of 2017. Watkins Glen was supposed to be his final race with the team but injuries kept him out of the seat.
The move comes as business has changed for Patrón Spirits. The company is no longer independent, having been purchased by Bacardi Limited back in January. The company more or less pulled out of the NHRA after Alexis DeJoria, daughter of billionaire Patrón Spirits co-founder John Paul DeJoria, retired last year. Leaving IMSA will see the company have no presence in motorsports beyond the end of this year.
In addition to sponsoring Tequila Patrón ESM, the company also was the title sponsor of the North American Endurance Cup, a teams championship that focused on the four longest races of the season (Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta). It was already announced in August of last year that 2018 would be Tequila Patrón’s final year as title sponsor of the North American Endurance Cup. As part of IMSA’s new sponsorship deal announced last year at Road America, Michelin will take over that branding.
For Extreme Speed Motorsports, losing Tequila Patrón will not end their tenure in IMSA competition. The team intends to continue racing in 2019, aggressively pursuing backing for next season.