Budweiser Takes One Last Lap at Daytona With Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Stirring Tribute

Spot will air during the Nascar legend's final race on Sunday

Headshot of Erik Oster

Budweiser bids farewell to longtime brand ambassador Dale Earnhardt Jr. with a sendoff to the Nascar legend ahead of his impending retirement, in the form of a poignant three-minute tribute video created by VaynerMedia.

Earnhardt, 43, who announced his retirement at the end of the 2017 season back in April, has a relationship with Budweiser dating back to 1999, when he first drove a car with a Bud paint job around a Nascar Cup Series track. The brand has been an official sponsor of Earnhardt’s since 2007, though not continuously, and Earnhardt won 17 of his 26 career Cup victories in a Budweiser car.

The extended online version of the spot opens on a covered sheet flowing off Earnhardt’s Budweiser-branded car. Set to “The Night We Met” by Lord Huron, which Budweiser vp of marketing Ricardo Marques said is one of Earnhardt’s favorite songs, the spot runs through a series of the Nascar driver’s career highlights, from his debut to his most famous victories, interspersed with the vehicle making a last lap around Daytona, seemingly without a driver.

The ad doesn’t skip over Earnhardt’s father Dale Sr.’s tragic death at Daytona on Feb. 18, 2001, at age 49, but poignantly shows how it made Earnhardt Jr.’s victory in the Daytona 500 three years later that much more meaningful.

The spot concludes with the message: “Through all the twists and turns, you kept your foot on the gas. This Bud’s for you, Junior.”

“Budweiser will always have a special place in my heart. They took a chance on me early on, sponsored my first Cup ride, and paved the way to many great opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise,”  Earnhardt said in a statement. “I’m deeply honored in what they’ve done to commemorate my final race. It was unexpected and humbling. It brought back a rush of memories, but more than anything it reminded me how awesome it was to drive that red No. 8 car.”

“Budweiser has been with Dale Jr. through some of the biggest moments of his career. It’s because of Dale Jr. that the Bud car became synonymous with Nascar,” Marques told Adweek. “We’re raising a cold Bud for a driver who transcended his sport, inspired millions and whose wins on the track are only surpassed by his character off it.”

A 30-second version of the ad will make its broadcast debut this Sunday, Nov. 19, during the broadcast of Earnhardt’s last race at Homestead. Budweiser will also air a retro ad from earlier in his career during the broadcast. (See below.)

“Bud and Dale Jr. have a long and decorated history, starting back in 1999 when Dale Jr. first took to the Nascar Cup Series track in a Budweiser paint scheme,” Marques added. “During those years, Budweiser collaborated with Dale Jr. on many Bud commercials, including Super Bowl ads. To make this moment even more special, we wanted to bring back a piece of that work.”

BRAND TEAM: Budweiser US
VP Marketing: Ricardo Marques
Senior Director Experiential Marketing – Sports: Nick Kelly
Senior Brand Director: Monica Rustgi
Senior Brand Manager, Experiential: Varun Mehrotra

AD AGENCY: VaynerMedia
Chief Creative Officer: Steve Babcock
Group Creative Director: Chris Bradley
Group Content Director: Ritesh Gupta
Creative Director: Todd Bradley
Associate Creative Director: Harrison Barron
Senior Art Director: Jes Vallee
Senior Copywriter: Tory Dickerson
VP, Account: Joe Leotta
Senior Account Executive: Tracy Lowy
Producer: Lauren Dinsdale
Business Affairs: Jaymie Lipman

Head of Production: Jason Beauregard
Director: Ritesh Gupta
EP: Mat Holis
DP: Boaz Freud
Producer: Joel Lilje
Production Manager: Liz Victorine
Graphic Designer: Todd Stansbury, Don Pollard
Wardrobe Stylist: Amy Stearley

POST: Cutters Studio
Editor: Tom Brassil
Assistant Editor: Meghan Sims
Assistant Editor: David Rubin
Assistant Editor: Austin Rauterkus
Executive Producer: Elizabeth Krajewski
Senior Producer: Stephanie Rose
Associate Producer: Jayson Ramos
Audio Engineer: TJ Dumser
Flame: Moises Tavera
Color: The Helm Creative
Colorist: Lez Rudge

@ErikDOster erik.oster@adweek.com Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.