Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka will be the major sponsor for the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series "Triple Crown," featuring the Indianapolis 500, Pocono IndyCar 400 and the MAVTV 500 at Fontana, the series announced Tuesday.
To be known as the "Fuzzy's Triple Crown," the three-race oval track set will award a $1 million payout to any driver who can win all three prestigious events. A driver that wins two of the three races will be awarded a $250,000 bonus from Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka.
"Adding the Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka name to the Triple Crown further highlights an exciting and historic Indy car racing tradition that returns to the sport in 2013 after more than two decades," said IndyCar Jeff Belskus. "This is a further statement about the potential that Fuzzy's sees in our sport and the $1 million award makes the 'Fuzzy's Triple Crown' another must-win prize, alongside the IZOD IndyCar Series Championship and the Indianapolis 500, for an IZOD IndyCar Series driver."
The three superspeedway oval races renew the tradition of the "Triple Crown" from the 1970s and 1980s Indy car competition. Only one driver ever managed to sweep all three Triple Crown races in one year – Al Unser, in the USAC-sanctioned IndyCar series of 1978, with Jim Hall's Lola-Cosworth (LEFT). A.J. Foyt (twice), Johnny Rutherford and Gordon Johncock won two of the three Triple Crown races in the same year. In Triple Crown races from 1971 to '89, Al Unser and Foyt won seven races with Bobby Unser and Rick Mears taking six victories.
"To operate well all day and win one race in the Triple Crown is an achievement for a driver and a team," said Unser. "To win a race of that distance you have to almost be perfect to beat the competition. To win all three, the circumstances for the team, crew and driver are almost impossible to achieve. But fortunately we did it and we're in the record books and why people still ask me about the 1978 season today.
"I am happy to see the Triple Crown back. The Triple Crown is part of Indy car heritage, it's good for the fans, it's good for the teams, and good for the sponsors and it sure gives the drivers some long races to show off their skills."
The 2013 "Fuzzy's Triple Crown" events take place at Indianapolis May 26, Pocono on July 7 and Fontana's Auto Club Speedway on Oct. 19. The Pocono race will be the first appearance of Indy car racing at the Pennsylvania tri-oval since 1989.
"Imagine winning at Augusta, Oakmont and Pebble Beach in the same year," said Indiana golf legend Fuzzy Zoeller, namesake of Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka and two-time major winner on the PGA Tour. "Now imagine doing it at 220mph. Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka is honored to present the return of the IndyCar Triple Crown for 2013.
"We've increased our involvement with IndyCar every year and now we are really going to hit it long. It's a return to tradition with the Triple Crown. It's an opportunity for a driver to join Al Unser in accomplishing this amazing feat of winning three big oval races in the same season. And you thought making a six-foot putt for birdie was tough."
Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka continues as the primary sponsor for Ed Carpenter Racing. Owner/driver Carpenter won the 2012 season finale MAVTV 500 at Fontana on Sept. 15.
The previous Triple Crown included 500-mile races at Indianapolis, Pocono and Ontario, Calif., from 1971-1980 and from 1981-1989 at Indy, Pocono and Michigan. For a brief time, Phillip Morris sponsored the Marlboro Million for the Triple Crown.