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Dread River, Exclusive Spirit Sponsor of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park


    In early May of 2022, Dread River Distilling Co. joined the 12th Annual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at the world-class Barber Motorsports Park as the exclusive spirit sponsor of the three-day event. “Personally, I think this is one of the annual marquee events in Alabama,” said Dread River Cofounder John Cubelic. “Barber Motorsports Park is regarded as the ‘Augusta National of race tracks,’ so it’s fun to be a part of an event venue with that reputation. Fans come from across the country for this race so it gives us a great opportunity to engage with a broad demographic, plus this year we were able to develop relationships with several teams and host them at the distillery.”

    In addition to hosting teams at the distillery, Dread River hosted a pre-race watch party in their historic downtown Birmingham establishment. At the Honda Indy Grand Prix event, Dread River’s presence was hard to miss: two bars with spirit tastings and custom cocktails, a VIP Champions Club, full bar offerings in the Trackside Tavern Hospitality Area, a tasting tent and bottle-sales tent in the Fan Zone, and branded materials and “Dread River Racing Team” brand ambassadors throughout the event grounds.

    “People loved our designs, merch, and marketing materials,” said Dread River General Manager, Suzanne Cisneros. “Tons of people were wanting to buy the posters. We had people coming to the distillery looking to buy the shirts to prepare for the race, and I had people from the race coming to the distillery. There was a lot of interest in the [Dread River-IndyCar-Barber Motorsports] relationship.”

    With last year's Covid-restricted, 50-percent capacity race largely in the rearview, Dread River essentially increased the 2022 sponsorship presence by fivefold. “I have been going to this race as a spectator since its inception,” said John, “so I had a pretty good idea of what the opportunities were. This year was a much larger production—it required a lot more planning, beginning in earnest in November. I heard many times over the course of the weekend from fans who were impressed with the way we integrated into the event, providing a sense of ownership and connection far beyond the typical sponsorship.”

    Suzanne notes the shared aesthetics of the Indy Grand Prix, Barber Motorsports Park, and Dread River: “Adventure, excitement, elegance, exclusivity, loyalty, quality.” And John agrees, saying “Barber is the premier race track in America, so naturally we would like to consider ourselves in a similarly elite status. I think the event and the IndyCar series represent a sense of quality and adventure that is at the heart of who we are as a brand. Plus, it is undeniably cool.”

    Interest in Dread River’s newly released flagship bourbon was high, with many racing fans eager to purchase bottles on-site. And with the clever and hip “Dread River Racing Team” themed t-shirts and posters, some fans even asked when the Dread River racing car would appear on the track … There’s always a possibility for that in future years as the Dread River partnership with Barber and the Zoom Motorsports team seems to be just revving up their engines for more exciting twists and turns to come.

    “We upped the ante this year and are already looking for ways to make the event better for next year,” said John. ”I will look forward to supporting the race and Barber for as long as I’m here.”

    Thank you to photographer and videographer Mateo Zarate for these fabulous images!

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