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Tequila Patron Brand to End IMSA, Motorsports Involvement

Tequila Patron brand to leave WeatherTech Championship at the end of the season…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

Tequila Patron will leave the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at the end of the season, terminating its roles as both a team and series sponsor, as well as all involvement in motorsports, it was announced Monday.

The brand has been the title sponsor of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup as well as Extreme Speed Motorsports, which currently runs under the Tequila Patron ESM banner.

The company was purchased by Bacardi in January for $5.1 billion, while Michelin was previously announced as the title sponsor for the NAEC from 2019, as part of its increased partnership with IMSA.

Tequila Patron and ESM have been partnered for eight years in several different sports car racing series including the WeatherTech Championship, FIA World Endurance Championship and American Le Mans Series.

ESM will continue in the WeatherTech Championship next season and a statement issued by the team said it is “actively pursuing sponsors” for the program. 

“On behalf of the entire Extreme Speed Motorsports organization, it has been an honor to represent such an amazing brand for the past 13 years,” said ESM team owner Scott Sharp.

“I have the deepest gratitude for all of Ed Brown’s support. Together we have tackled various challenges, won races at each step, and built ESM into such an incredible team.

“Simultaneously, it has been thrilling to watch Ed and his team build the Patron brand in a meteoric fashion and along the way become an icon in the motorsports world.

“We will miss not carrying the now infamous green and black livery, but the same passion for excellence will remain.”

ESM’s partnership with Nissan and Onroak Automotive, constructors of its customer-based DPi, was initiated as a two-year deal in 2017, with Patron Spirits CEO Brown understood to have financed IMSA’s required manufacturer marketing commitment to compete with the package.

Patron has also ended it involvement in NHRA, having previously sponsored Alexis DeJoria, daughter of Patron Spirits co-founder John Paul.

“I’m proud that our involvement in motorsports introduced Patrón Tequila to so many new and loyal consumers across the world,” Brown said.

“Though we’ll no longer have a presence at racing competitions, I can promise I’ll always be a lifelong fan of the sport!”

Atherton: Patron a “Benchmark” Partner

IMSA President Scott Atherton says Patron’s involvement in IMSA, which dates back to 2008 with sponsorship of Highcroft Racing and the entitlement sponsorship of the Patron GT3 Challenge the following year, is a “benchmark” example of a brand’s involvement and activation.

Patron had also served as the presenting sponsor of the ALMS from 2010-13.

“All associated with IMSA – competitors, promoter partners, series officials and fans – will miss the iconic Tequila Patrón brand next year,” Atherton said.

“On behalf of IMSA, we thank CEO Ed Brown and Tequila Patrón for all they have done over the many years to help us grow IMSA and the sport as a whole. We’re more proud than words can express to have counted Tequila Patrón among our family of premium brand partners.

“Tequila Patrón’s involvement on-and-off the track has been a benchmark example by every measure. We will look forward to finishing up our 2018 season in the strongest and most successful way possible and will look forward to the opportunity to work together again in the future.”

John Dagys contributed to this report

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist who is Sportscar365's European Editor and also Managing Editor for e-racing365. He is a student of Politics and International Relations. Contact Jake



  1. Pay Driver

    July 16, 2018 at 10:32 am

    The beginning of the end. Eventually Mazda will bow out because they suck too much, Acura-Penske will win everything they need to and bail, and then we’ll just be left with GM.

    Better think about looking out for those privateers.

    • jason

      July 16, 2018 at 11:11 am

      As far as I know the team has been a joint operation run by Ed Brown and Scott Sharp. Is Mr. Sharp going solo? Is he going to be able to pull off the ability to find funding from another source?

    • Joel

      July 16, 2018 at 11:42 am

      HAHAHA. An all-time classic S365 comment right here.

    • DanO

      July 16, 2018 at 2:18 pm

      Hit the nail on the head. How many haven’t been seeing this situation forming over the last six months is beyond me. The vicious sportscar racing cycle.

    • TheBigMrJackson

      July 16, 2018 at 7:46 pm

      ….One sponsor leaving due to the company being bought by another and suddenly the sky has started falling? Good grief, how about we find out who is gonna sponsor ESM before anybody loses it.

      • AudiTT

        July 17, 2018 at 7:29 am

        There aren’t enough partners to keep DPI healthy long-term. We need manufacturers as in GTE who can race their cars in more series than IMSA alone.

        That would bring in Ford, McLaren etc. who, even if they don’t run factory cars, would be another supplier for potential customers.

        • Andy Flinn

          July 17, 2018 at 11:40 pm

          AudiTT, I assume you are referring to the FIA/ACO hypercar concept.

          But how is jacking DPi costs from where they are now to $25-$30 million a season going to help ESM?

      • Andy Flinn

        July 18, 2018 at 12:02 am

        Mr. Jackson, this is actually the SECOND time the sky is supposedly falling on IMSA.

        The first was in 2014 after Greg Pickett sold Muscle Milk and parked his LMP2.

  2. Tom Sawyer

    July 16, 2018 at 10:48 am

    Just have Nissan sponsor the car more

    • TF110

      July 16, 2018 at 11:33 am

      Nissan does not have any sponsorship on the car right now. They only gave esm their blessing to run the dpi look and they lease or sell them engines. I don’t think it’d be a surprise to see them out of dpi next year.

      • Mo

        July 16, 2018 at 1:59 pm

        They do have powered by Nissan- Nismo branding on the car. Is that considered sponsorship?

        • guest

          July 16, 2018 at 4:24 pm

          I think ESM paid the manufacturer fee to have them in the series. So no, that’s not sponsorship by Nissan.

      • Andy Flinn

        July 18, 2018 at 12:05 am

        TF110, ANY word on Nissan racing a hypercar?

        I haven’t heard anything.

    • Matt

      July 16, 2018 at 3:37 pm

      Nissan needs a step tf up. Their failure at Le Mans is the last thing people remember about them, and winning the IMSA championship would be an easy way to redeem themselves.

      • The Fisherman 🎣

        July 17, 2018 at 2:59 am

        An IMSA championship is a far far smaller acheivement than anything to do with Le Mans.

  3. Doug

    July 16, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Not unexpected. The racing sponsorship was Ed Brown’s deal. Now that the company has been sold to Bacardi, they no longer care.

    I wonder how much Ed Brown gets in the sale? Maybe he’ll parter or start his own team?

    • Mark - Toronto

      July 16, 2018 at 2:15 pm

      This was really not a surprise with the acquisition by Bacardi. Martini wanted to continue with Williams in F1 as well, but Bacardi pulled the plug after this year because it didn’t fit in with their Marketing strategy going forward.

      It’s unfortunate, and a massive blow for ESM. But I hope people don’t read too much into the decision and equate it to performance. It looks like a pure business decision.

      Here’s hoping ESM will find a way to continue in one form or another.

  4. Kirk

    July 16, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    So I wonder what ESM’s plans will be next year. With nobody to foot the bill for Nissan, maybe they go to a different DPi manufacturer or become a P2 team. If they have to attract a sponsor, it would be easier to sell if they can tell the sponsor their name will be seen at LeMans.

    • Andy Flinn

      July 18, 2018 at 12:13 am

      Kirk, it would have to be a non-alcohol sponsor. ESM was not allowed to advertise Patron at Le Mans.

      Maybe Rolling Stone could step up

  5. Jenner

    July 16, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    Gonna b an interesting off season for them. Will they find sponsorship? One car or two? Pro drivers or Pro-Am? Dip or P2? Will P2 even be around next season?

    Good Luck Scott.

    • Andy Flinn

      July 18, 2018 at 12:17 am

      Jenner, if ESM plans on running two pro drivers next year in a P2 and P2 is separated into its own class, IMSA P2 definitely won’t be around for long.

  6. Dave

    July 16, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    “ESM will continue in the WeatherTech Championship next season and a statement issued by the team said it is “actively pursuing sponsors” for the program.” Did I miss something? Sure it looks like it’ll be tough to replace such a long term sponsor with good brand recognition, but I think they will find a replacement source of funds. They have a fair amount of success as a team, good drivers, and a committed owner. I personally hope Yeti Coolers comes on as a sponsor as a couple of cars called the Yetis could be pretty bad-ass.

  7. juneracer

    July 16, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    ESM was nice to have a around. but i don’t see them continuing unless they get some ‘special’ sponsorship help via the series…

  8. Marc

    July 16, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    Im going to miss the Patron tent at races! Especially the Patron tent at Sebring – best place to cool off and watch the race.

  9. Pederb

    July 16, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    Time to switch Tequila brand from Patron to something else

  10. Mart

    July 16, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    Ouch. Hope this won’t be the end – Patron always there only proper sponsor. Looked like it was some kind of toy for Ed Brown. When he retired there was talk he would come back in GT3, but when that didn’t happen and with the sale of Patron to Bacardi I feared they would stop as a sponsor. Hope ESM can continue, always was curious how many $ Patron (Brown) pumped in to the team. Good drivers and a very professional looking set up. However they good a good beating in WEC with changing of tyres, engines, drivers.

  11. Steven

    July 16, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    That sucks, Patron was always well represented in ALMS/IMSA. They always had great liveries was a pretty big fan favorite sponsor.

    But Bacardi bought them out and knew it was only a matter of time before they pulled the plug. Gonna be a very big upfield battle for ESM to be back next year.

  12. You don't matter

    July 16, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    Where’s Andy Flinn wavin’ his dick around telling all of us how great and powerfull the IMSA WeatherTech series is?! How it is vastly superior to the WEC and ELMS and how the neckcar boys in Daytona always know what’s best and do no wrong! Easy there Andy, easy…

    • TheBigMrJackson

      July 16, 2018 at 7:44 pm

      Is that really necessary? This has precisely bupkis to do with IMSA or the team’s performance, it’s a marketing decision. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. I’m sure ESM will continue on with new sponsorship, and there will be a new sponsor for the NAEC.

    • Andyneedsarealitycheck

      July 17, 2018 at 2:01 pm

      Geez, while I agree with you, mr. “don’t matter” and think that NECKCAR is a joke and Andy is a clown, just exactly WTF does that have to do with this subject matter?

  13. Bye Patron, and thanks for the memories

    July 16, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    Coming 2019 — WeatherTech ESM Racing, featuring Cooper MacNeil. Car TBD.

    You heard it here first.

    • Pete

      July 17, 2018 at 9:05 am

      This…isn’t actually a horrible bet to place lol

    • TimS

      July 17, 2018 at 1:11 pm

      “Car TBD every event…”

  14. Andy Flinn

    July 18, 2018 at 12:31 am

    “Don’t matter” and “reality check,” I see some people have been hitting the Patron pretty hard.

    Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, guys.

    You two should cheer up. IMSA survived the loss of Muscle Milk and Dyson. It will survive the Patron pullout, too.

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