STP Corporation

The Studebaker car company dated back to 1852 when Henry and Clem Studebaker opened a wagon-building company in South Bend, Indiana. This began producing cars in 1902 and continued to be successful until the 1950s. After a period of poor management the company hired a new chief executive Sherwood Egbert. He decided that the company needed a new product and needed to diversify in order to survive. While Studebaker engineers designed the Avanti model, Egbert bought a number of other businesses, among them a supercharger company called Paxton Products. This was headed by Andy Granatelli. The Avanti appeared for the first time in 1963 and was powered by a Granatelli-developed supercharged engine. Granatelli took one of the cars to Bonneville Salt Flats and set 29 national stock car records with the new car. The engines were further developed in 1964 by the Granatelli Brothers - Vince, Andy and Joe - but Andy soon turned his attention to a new job given him by Egbert. He was put in charge of a Studebaker's Chemical Compounds Division. He changed its name to Studebaker Test Products (STP) and went racing with both boats and automobiles. STP Oil Treatment was soon being used by many of the teams at Indianapolis. In order to improve the publicity Granatelli bought the Novi racing car company and in 1967 came close to winning the Indianapolis 500 with Parnelli Jones in a turbine-engined car. There was a second near-miss in 1968 but in 1969 Mario Andretti gave STP Racing its first victory at Indy and that same year he won the National Championship.In 1970 STP entered Grand Prix racing with the March factory team with drivers Jo Siffert and Chris Amon and an oocasional third car entered by Granatelli himself for Mario Andretti. That year there was an abortive attempt by STP to have the McNamara Racing company build an Indycar for the company. In 1971 STP entered NASCAR as well, sponsoring Fred Lorenzen, while in Indycars Andretti was joined by Steve Krisiloff and in F1 Ronnie Peterson took a March to second in the World Championship. The expansion continued in 1972 with Graham McRae dominating the Tasman and Continental Series with STP backing and showing well in Formula 5000. STP appeared at Indianapolis on Lola chassis and an important relationship began in NASCAR with Richard "The King" Petty. It was the start of an extraordinarily successful relationship which netted Petty's STP-sponsored number 43 car a total of four Winston Cup titles, four wins in the Daytona 500 and almost 100 race victories.The deal with March continued in Formula 1 with Peterson and Niki Lauda but it was not a success and STP then withdrew from F1. The 1973 season resulted in an Indianapolis 500 victory for Gordon Johncock and expansion of the STP racing programme into drag racing. The success in the late 1970s included another Indianapolis 500 victory for Johncock and constant success for Petty. By 1973 STP's sales had risen to $100m a year (compared to $1.9m in 1963).In the 1980s STP remained a strong presence with Kyle Petty joining his father in NASCAR and Roberto Guerrero becoming the company's chief representative at Indianapolis. He was followed by Tom Sneva, Didier Theys and John Andretti and later by Bobby Rahal. He was in turn replaced by Danny Sullivan.Richard Petty retired in 1992 although Petty Enterprises continued to run STP cars while Jimmy Vasser became an STP driver in 1993. The company also remained active in drag racing and in the World of Outlaws series. There was also an involvement in the IMSA sportscar series with Porsche. The relationship with Vasser led to a deal with Target Chip Ganassi Racing which continues today.The STP Corporation was sold to the First Brands Corporation but in recent years has been owned by the Clorox Company.