The First Bitcoin-Sponsored Racing Car to Debut at Indy 500

Bitcoin will be making its planned debut at America’s most famous car race, the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

IndyCar Series team Ed Carpenter Racing’s (ECR) No. 21 Bitcoin Chevrolet will line up at the starting line along with 32 other cars at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, also called the Brickyard, so named for the pavers that lined the course in its early years. The black-and-orange car bearing Bitcoin logos is the first racing car sponsored by members of the bitcoin community.

“To bring my personal interest and immersion in Bitcoin to our industry is historic,” team owner Carpenter said earlier this month in a press release announcing the arrangement. “…I see it as an opportunity to transform how we operate within our own motorsport industry.”

ECR’s bitcoin sponsorship is among the latest examples of cryptocurrency mixing with professional sports. In March, Major League Baseball’s Oakland A’s announced that they would accept bitcoin as payment for season suites. Last month, the NBA Sacramento Kings’ Chairman and CEO Vivek Ranadivé said in a Clubhouse gathering that he would give his players and staff a bitcoin payment option.

Dutch driver and 2020 NTT IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year Rinus VeeKay will drive the black-and-orange car bearing Bitcoin logos, which will also adorn his fire suit and the uniforms worn by the team’s pit crew.

Carpenter told AutoWeek in a May 13 story that he owns bitcoin and saw it as an innovative way to compete against other racing teams — and sports — for coveted sponsorship money.

“We’re a sponsorship-driven industry and it’s getting harder to compete in the space with other race teams, with other marketers, with other sports properties,” he told AutoWeek. “I’ve been getting involved with this, and I see a lot of opportunity to change the way we do business.”

ECR has partnered with the Strike payment app to enable payments and donations this month. A unique QR code has allowed anyone in the world to donate — what ECR described in its press release as “the world’s first peer-to-car contribution model.”

The racing team is also the first in Indy racing to offer its employees the option of accepting bitcoin as a payment option.

Carpenter said that he chose 21 to denote the 21 million bitcoin that Satoshi Nakamoto created in launching his digital currency.

VeeKay will start in the first row in Sunday’s race after averaging over 231 mph in qualifying runs last week.

“With the power of the Bitcoin community backing ECR…our team is more than ready to attack the Indy 500 and capture our first Borg Warner Trophy (which goes to the Indy winner),” Carpenter said in a May press release. “We want to kiss the bricks, drink the milk, then watch Bitcoin race past $100k!”