It has long been considered bad luck, not to mention bad taste, for a NASCAR racer to roll into a speedway driving a pink race car. Even Dale Earnhardt, aka the Man in Black, suffered a lifetime of ribbing about his very first racing machine, a 1956 Ford painted door-to-door in pink, by accident, when the then-19-year-old rookie was attempting to mix up a can of purple.
But this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, no one will be laughing at NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Tyler Reddick's pink No. 2 Chevy. In fact, they'll more likely be jealous, because his new hue comes with an ultracool new sponsor: country music icon Dolly Parton.
Parton's unmistakable face will ride on the hood of Reddick's Richard Childress Racing Camaro, along with her trademark butterfly and the name of her record company, Dolly Records, tied together via a flamboyant pink framework.
The rest of the car will also be covered in the logos of Parton-owned businesses, including dollyparton.com, Dollywood theme park, Dollywood DreamMore Resort & Spa, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, Dolly Parton's Stampede Dinner Attraction, Dollywood's Splash Country and the soon-to-open Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show.
That's a lot of Dolly. But the people of Bristol, Tennessee, are certainly used to that. The nine-time Grammy Award winner was born and raised in nearby Pigeon Forge, also the location of the tourist attractions advertised on Reddick's race car.
"Dolly is an icon and has had a lot of success in her career, which is something I admire while trying to build my own success in NASCAR," Reddick, the defending Xfinity Series champion and current series leader, said in a team statement. "Hopefully, we can take Dolly and the No. 2 Camaro to Victory Lane this weekend in her home state of Tennessee. I think that would be really special for everyone who is a fan of hers."
Parton could not be reached for comment, but she quickly retweeted the RCR announcement to her 4.8 million followers on Wednesday morning.
The sponsorship deal between Parton and RCR came together quickly last week, so close to Saturday's Alsco 300 race date that Reddick's crew was still finishing up the car's new wrap job (they no longer use paint) Tuesday morning as the official announcement went out.
The plan is for a multirace sponsorship agreement, but the post-Bristol details are still being ironed out.
Country music artists using race cars to sell records is nothing new to the NASCAR world.
Richard Childress Racing has worked closely with country duo Brooks & Dunn, and Childress even recorded a song called "T-Bone" on a 1983 album of singing racers titled "Stock Car Racing's Entertainers of the Year." Everyone from Tanya Tucker to Luke Bryan have had their faces on the hoods of stock cars.
Record executive Mike Curb is a longtime NASCAR team owner, most famously fielding the machine that Richard Petty drove to his 200th Cup Series win in 1984. Country Music Hall of Famer Marty Robbins made 35 starts as a Cup Series driver between 1966 and 1982, posting six top-10 finishes.