Outrage is very en vogue these days. Everyone is outraged about something from the AIG million dollar bonuses paid by tax payers and the Octomom getting free everything for being a crazy person. I, too, am outraged. Following a great weekend of NHRA Drag Racing in Gainesville, Florida, we have learned that Budweiser will not be returning as sponsor of Kenny Bernstein’s Top Fuel Dragster team. I can’t say that I’m surprised but now that it has happened I’m, well, outraged. While outraged and disappointed, I’m not shocked. Industry experts have forecast cuts at Budweiser since rumors of a sale to Belgian beverage giant INBEV first began. http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/inbev-takeover-spotlights-anheuser-buschs-big/story.aspx?guid=%7B627AFDF4-E32B-460F-8CE8-195A5CC2D7BC%7D
The story first broke on drag racing news site: http://www.go2geiger.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1119:bernstein-bud-parting-ways-at-end-of-season&catid=2:astory
Months ago when it first surfaced that Anheuser-Busch was considering selling there were some minor discussions among the very patriotic racing crowd of whether or not this would be a good thing. I have consistently come down on the “no” side of this issue and now we have proof. Kenny Bernstein and Budweiser have been together longer than any other sponsor-team combination, eclipsing the Richard Petty/STP relationship two years ago. Bernstein’s team has massed 85 national event wins and six national championships during the thirty year run. One championship every five years is not too shabby, but apparently not good enough for INBEV.
As much as I’d like to sit here and try to eloquently use my writing skills to explain in detail why it is a huge mistake for BUD, I’d rather simply be frank. I grew up looking forward to having a Budweiser when I was of age. The ONLY reason I even know about Budweiser is Kenny Bernstein’s Budweiser King thanks to my early NHRA Drag Racing experiences. The first beer I ever drank was a Budweiser. So, as far as I’m concerned Budweiser would never have existed without Bernstein. To millions of NHRA Drag Racing fans like me, this is a fact of my beer drinking life.
Another fact: Budweiser Sucks. The only reason I ever drank it was because it was the first beer I ever knew about, but I stuck with it. Why? Kenny Bernstein’s Budweiser King and the company’s support of drag racing. It gives me an instant headache, but I bought it anyway. I didn’t even root for Kenny on the track, I rooted for Don the Snake, and yet, I bought Budweiser (and Miller, the Snake’s sponsor). I’m sure I’m not the only racing fan who feels this way. I must say, however, that Bud light is drinkable. However, I cannot see myself ordering a Budweiser ever again, now that INBEV has dropped one of drag racing’s biggest stars, unnecessarily, during a tough economy. Talk about not taking care of the people who have taken care of you. The value of their sponsorship was worth ten times what they were paying, having deeply impacted millions of drag racing fans like me. The fact that they are pulling out is grossly disrespectful to the NHRA fan base that have supported them through the series.
The decision has already been made and Bud is not returning in 2010. INBEV is simply interested in cost cutting and gutting an American institution. Hopefully, some other company will take advantage of the next generation of NHRA fans to grow up watching the Bernstein family, now with son Brandon behind the wheel. In the mean time, I can only voice my protest by avoiding any beer supplied by INBEV. Perhaps you’ll join me in not having a beer.
A list of INBEV brands is at the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:InBev_brands