Go Cups

Starbucks is just the latest in a long line of head-scratching NASCAR sponsors.

When The Daily Weekly found out last week that Starbucks was the latest company to buy ad space on a NASCAR vehicle, we reacted with stupefied disbelief. Not being NASCAR fans, the partnership didn't seem to make sense. What did $4-a-cup coffee have in common with a sport that started when a couple Prohibition-era bootleggers decided to modify their engines?Of course we were wrong. They don't say "race on Sunday, sell on Monday" for nothing. Tune in to FOX on race days and you'll see most of corporate America represented via the rear-panel sticker or uniform patch. NASCAR fans are known for fierce brand loyalty (ask a Tony Stewart follower for directions to the nearest Lowe's and see what happens), so it only makes sense that companies, no matter what they're selling, would want to sell it on a race car.Still, some products just look more natural than others on the hood of a Chevy. Budweiser? Classic. Starbucks? Confusing. So here's one non–NASCAR fan's take on the five most unlikely sponsorships:Jack Daniels: It's a little jarring to see hard liquor hawked on a vehicle going 200 mph. And what meth is to hard drugs, whiskey is to spirits. You, me, and the guy sitting next to you all know a couple of friends who've said the following: "Sorry about last night. Whiskey just makes me crazy!" And it does.Viagra: Because NASCAR is a private company, they can say who can and can't advertise with them. The general rule seems to be that if you're family-friendly, you're in, which explains why Playboy got rebuffed a couple of years ago. But pink bunny ears seem downright PG compared to Viagra, the sponsorship that launched a million terrible "it really revs my engines" jokes. Yes, it is real medicine designed to treat a real disorder. But when you get right down to it, most guys don't want to spend four hours being reminded of their own impending impotence.Nicorette: Along with beer and the Big Three automakers, smokes were a prime reason for the sport's ascendance. NASCAR was, after all, called the Winston Cup for 33 years. So watching an anti-cigarette car draft in a race that once used to celebrate the taste of sweet nicotine is like seeing an ad for O'Doul's during halftime of the Bud Bowl. It just doesn't make sense.Stacker 2: The diet-pill maker lasted less than three years as a sponsor, maybe because it realized people don't like to be reminded that the Cokes, M&Ms, Coors Lights, and Doritos they're simultaneously ingesting aren't exactly health products.Barack Obama: OK, so this never actually happened. But last year, BAM Racing offered Obama a spot on the hood of their No. 49 Toyota, a partnership that would have made NASCAR and presidential history, and also would have confused the hell out of a lot of race fans who thought they were watching two Pepsi cars circling the track.

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