Oskar Blues crafts life in fast lane

This is a drinking and driving story that could end up a marketing coup.

Oskar Blues Brewery is about to gain some national traction in NASCAR’s fast lane.

In a one-race deal, Longmont-based Oskar Blues is serving as the lead sponsor for driver Landon Cassill and the JD Motorsports team in the Dollar General 300, a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The speedway is a two-hour car ride (that’s sticking to the speed limit) from Oskar Blues’ new brewery in Brevard, North Carolina, smack in the middle of NASCAR country.

The red, white and blue Dale’s Pale Ale logo will grace the hood of Cassill’s No. 4 Chevrolet Camaro, and also will be emblazoned on the chest of Cassill’s fire suit. With the patriotic colors and a few well-placed stars and bars, the suit will conjure up memories of Evel Knievel. Oskar Blues’ logo for its Mama’s Little Yella Pils will be on the race car’s door, and also on the suit.

“It’s so cool to have a craft-beer sponsor, especially Oskar Blues Brewery,´ said Cassill, 24, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He has several years of experience in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series. He has a best finish of third in the NNS.

“Craft beer fits so well with our sport, which is casual and accessible,´ said Cassill, who really likes the Evel Knievel look.

Neal Price, a finance guy for Oskar Blues in North Carolina, is a big NASCAR fan and the man behind the partnership that is the first of its kind for the craft-brewery industry.

He pursued the sponsorship deal with JD Motorsports after first landing a contract to sell Oskar Blues’ beers at Charlotte Motor Speedway and be an official track sponsor. Dale’s Pale Ale and Mama’s Little Yella Pils are the only craft beers available throughout Carolina Motor Speedway — at the Super Speedway, the Speedway Club, zMax Dragway and The Dirt Track, as well as The Party Box in the Fan Zone.

Oskar Blues didn’t want to disclose the cost of the sponsorship that seems to be rooted in employee passion.

Price was given the green light to pursue the deal by brewery founder Dale Katechis, who created a company philosophy years ago that encourages employees to follow their passions.

“We just like getting after it and being competitive,” Katechis said. “Whether it’s our complex and challenging beers, the aggressive mountain bikes our bike company makes, or going to the racetrack … speed is in our blood.”

This isn’t Oskar Blues’ first trip around the racetrack. It sponsors a super late model, a mod coupe and two sprint cars that compete at tracks across the country. But it is the first on such a big stage.

The race will be televised on ESPN2 and broadcast on radio stations across the nation. If Cassill can be among the race leaders and finish near the top, then chalk one up for the underdogs, and it could lead to an extended contract for the remaining eight races of the season.

“This feels like a great partnership because our team is a lot like this brewery,” Cassill said. “We’re a homegrown race team working really hard to break through.”

Doug Storum can be reached at 303-630-1959 or dstorum@bcbr.com.

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