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How the Indy 500 got a presenting sponsor

Posted at 2:43 PM, Jan 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-22 10:36:16-05

WATCH in the video player above: An interview with the president of the company who landed the first ever presenting sponsorship of the Indianapolis 500.

INDIANAPOLIS -- In IndyCar, we're all used to the massive amount of sponsors involved. Many often refer to cars not as Tony Kanaan's or Scott Dixon's, but rather the Steak N' Shake car or the Target car.

And the latest addition to the big race in May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be a bit, well, different.

For the first time, the Indianapolis 500 will have a presenting sponsor.

The 100th running of the race will be called the "100th Indianapolis 500 Presented by PennGrade Motor Oil." 

PennGrade is a type of racing lubricant manufactured by D-A Lubricants, which is located in the Indianapolis area. 

"We're thrilled that PennGrade Motor Oil is joining us, not only for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 but for more Indy 500s going forward," said Doug Boles, IMS President. "My grandmother worked for D-A Lubricant so I'm well-versed in the company's history and I know our fans will appreciate the Hoosier connection as well."

"There's no better way for us to debut PennGrade Motor Oil than by partnering with the world's largest single-day sporting event," said Mike Protogere, D-A Lubricant Company Chairman and CEO. "The Indianapolis 500 has stood for automotive innovation since 1911 and we're thrilled to add an exciting new chapter to that heritage with our product."

The company sponsored cars many decades ago, and recently got back into it by becoming an associate sponsor for Graham Rahal.

RACER Magazine reports that D-A Lubricants signed a three-year deal worth $5 million to sponsor the race. 

It's only fitting, really, with so many other of auto sports' races sponsored (Firestone 600, Honda Grand Prix, ABC Supply 500, and so on, and so on...), but there was always something so coveted and special about the Indianapolis 500 that it remained untethered to a brand. 

In baseball terms, it was like Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. They didn't have a sponsor to identify them - Their history stood alone. Butler University's Hinkle Fieldhouse and Indiana Unversity's Assembly Hall carry this same sponsor-less tradition.

Then again, unlike IndyCar's plastered vehicles, pit lanes and jumpsuits, brand logos haven't made it to baseball and basketball uniforms... yet. 

What do you think? Weigh in our Facebook page here.

RELATED | Indy 500 Special Section

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