A famous name leaving the sport?

Chevron Corporation announced on Tuesday that it is dropping its Texaco NASCAR sponsorship at the end of the year, bringing to an end a relationship that has endured for 20 years. Chevron says that it will pursue new marketing strategies for Texaco and Havoline with the focus shifting to local and regional programmes.

Texaco has been involved in the sport since 1913 when US racer Louis Disbrow endorsed the company's products. The firm was not seriously involved until 1972 when it began an association with Emerson Fittipaldi with Team Lotus in F1 and entered the USAC Indycar series. These quickly expanded and in 1974 Fittipaldi won the World Championship with a Marlboro/Texaco-sponsored McLaren. In 1976 James Hunt took the title in a similar car, while two years later Texaco backed Janet Guthrie in both Indycars and NASCAR. That year Texaco switched from McLaren to Wolf but after a poor season in 1979 disappeared from F1. The company then developed strong links with Ford competition programmes, notably in touring cars but there was also Texaco backing in Indycars for Bignotti Cotter Racing and Tom Sneva. This resulted in victory for Texaco in the Indianapolis 500. A switch to Mayer Motor Racing preceeded the start of a highly success period as a sponsor of Newman Haas Racing and a close association with the Andretti family, which lasted between 1989 and 1997. In the same era Texaco backed Davey Allison in the NASCAR Winston Cup, winning 19 victories before his death in a helicopter accident in 1993. In the years that followed Texaco cars were driven by Ernie Irvan, Dale Jarrett (who won the title in 1999), Kenny Irwin, Ricky Rudd, Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears and most recently Juan Pablo Montoya.

In 1997 Texaco returned to F1 with the Ford-backed Stewart GP but the relationship lasted only until the company was taken over by Chevron.

The announcement means that Chip Ganassi need to find a new backer for Montoya. This may be a problem as he recently has to shut down one of his crews because money could not be found despite the team running Dario Franchitti.

It is worth noting that Texaco has just announced a three-year sponsorship deal of the Football League in the UK.

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