When a Speedy Shiba Inu Stormed Talladega
Fueled by market-manipulating Twitter celebrities, cryptocurrency is back on pop culture’s radar, and this time, the auto industry is more prepared to ride the wave. Tesla plans to accept payments in Bitcoin, and among dealers, BTC’s alternatives (or “altcoins”) are gaining traction too—one Nissan dealer has started taking down payments in something called Dogecoin. Launched in 2013 as a semi-humorous, “more accessible” cryptocurrency, Dogecoin rode the popularity of its namesake meme to become one of the best-known altcoins, its profile further elevated via philanthropy surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympics. And in organizing its sponsorship of the Jamaican Olympic bobsled team, Dogecoiners set the stage for the nascent currency’s biggest moment yet: A NASCAR Cup Series sponsorship.
The NASCAR sponsorship movement coalesced following a Reddit post by user unicorn_butt_sex, who proposed his community back the sponsorless number 98 Ford Fusion driven by Josh Wise. Users pitched the idea to Phil Parsons Racing, the car’s owner, and were told they needed to come up with $50,000 for a full-car Dogecoin livery. Mischievous Reddit users eagerly poured in the donations, and within a matter of days, Josh Wise announced on Twitter that Dogecoin would be his sponsor for the 2014 Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Wise’s unusual, netizen-designed livery with its wary Shiba Inu bemused commentators and fans alike, many of whom struggled to wrap their heads around cryptocurrency, much less one with a meme for a mascot. For Wise, though, his sponsor wasn’t the only eventful part of the race; he ran as high as fourth and finished 20th, then his second-best result in the NASCAR Cup series. The best was yet to come, however, as the internet took delight in footage of his shibe staring down a drafting Dale Earnhardt Jr., and organized a voting campaign to get Wise into the year’s All-Star Race.