TALLADEGA, Ala. -- It's not necessarily a match made in heaven, but it's certainly a match made in the dirt roads of the South.
NASCAR, about to conclude its 70th season, finally has an "official moonshine" of the sport.
Sugarlands Distilling Company has entered a five-year sponsorship deal with NASCAR for its Sugarlands Shine to become the official moonshine of a racing series with bootlegger roots.
This moonshine is legal, and the products will carry a NASCAR logo. The company also is going to create an old-school, clear, corn whisky limited-edition moonshine to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Talladega Superspeedway, where the company will sponsor a truck series race starting next season.
"We're obviously really proud of our heritage, and there is an authentic connection between moonshine and NASCAR," NASCAR Chief Revenue Officer Jon Tuck said Friday at Talladega. "Our focus was on finding the right brands, a high-quality brand that is a fit with our fan base. That is what these guys are."
NASCAR, long known for its beer sponsors, did not allow teams to have distilled liquors as a team sponsor until 2005. It still took 14 years for NASCAR as a sanctioning body to land what seems to be the most appropriate sponsor for the sport. Cars have had moonshine sponsors, but never the sanctioning body.
"Moonshine was of interest to us because of the connection," Tuck said. "Moonshine is one of the hottest segments in spirits."
This is the first venture into sports marketing for the company, which opened in 2014 and is based in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Edward Vickers, president of Sugarlands, said the company did a survey about 18 months ago to identify its customer interests, and the top two were country music and NASCAR.
"About that time, NASCAR reached out to us and said, 'Hey, the liquor category is open, we'd love to talk to you guys,'" Vickers said.
"It just kind of lined up naturally. ... When you start talking about demographic studies, NASCAR indexed off the charts with our customers."