IndyCar 500 Racer to Drive in Bitcoin Livery

By Stephen Graves

Tesla may have fallen out of love with Bitcoin, but there’s one car still carrying the flag for the world’s largest cryptocurrency. Later this month, Ed Carpenter Racing driver Rinus VeeKay’s No. 21 Chevrolet will take to the track in the 105th Indianapolis 500 sporting Bitcoin livery.

“I could not be more excited that this project is becoming a reality,” said team owner Ed Carpenter in a release accompanying the announcement. “To bring my personal interest and immersion in Bitcoin to our industry is historic. Just as Bitcoin is revolutionizing our financial system, I see it as an opportunity to transform how we operate within our own motorsport industry.”

As the supply of #Bitcoin is fixed at 21 million with no more to ever be made, Bitcoin will be fixed on @RinusVeeKay’s No. 21 at the #Indy500.https://t.co/ukrj1DxucX pic.twitter.com/X5gnSUZQF5

— Ed Carpenter Racing (@ECRIndy) May 12, 2021

The Bitcoin livery, which features the iconic orange “B” logo on a black background, is the result of a partnership with payments and remittances app Strike, which contributed $100,000 towards the project and will fundraise on behalf of the Bitcoin community in a “peer-to-peer contribution model”.

A QR code on the car itself enables donors to contribute funds; according to Zap CEO Jack Mallers, 70% of the proceeds are allocated to funding open-source Bitcoin development, with the rest going towards the Bitcoin car and local Indianapolis charities, including the Riley Hospital for Children.

A blueprint for a driver's uniformDriver Rinus VeeKay will also sport the Bitcoin logo. Image: Ed Carpenter Racing

Mallers, who contributed $25,000, said that other notable donors include NYDIG founder Ross Stevens, who added $250,000 to the pot, along with NFL star Russell Okung and What Bitcoin Did podcast host Peter McCormack.

“In a world of potato chip and energy drinks sponsors, Ed chose to race for human freedom, financial literacy, financial inclusivity, savings technology, and Bitcoin open-source development,” Mallers wrote in a Medium post.

Speaking to Autoweek, Carpenter explained that Strike is converting the Bitcoin received into fiat currency. “Our suppliers that we work with, none of them accept Bitcoin yet, so we convert it to US dollars and operate just like we would with any other partnership,” he said. And down the line, he hopes the cryptocurrency will become more integrated with the sport. “Obviously, I can’t pay my Chevy contract in Bitcoin yet, but I see a future where that will change,” he added.

This isn’t the motor racing world’s first brush with cryptocurrency. As far back as 2014, Reddit’s Dogecoin community raised $55,000 to sponsor NASCAR driver Josh Wise. And in 2021, a NASCAR racer once again sported Dogecoin livery, with suspension company Springrates plastering the Shiba Inu logo on driver Stefan Parsons’ car. Bitcoin has made its way onto the NASCAR circuit, too; last year, payment services firm Cash App put the Bitcoin logo onto NASCAR driver Darrell “Bubba” Wallace’s signature motor.
From NASCAR to the NBA: Sports Loves Dogecoin

And outside of the racing circuit, other sports are turning their attention to cryptocurrency. UK soccer club Southampton FC recently inked a deal to receive performance-based bonuses in Bitcoin, while Crypto.com has sponsored the Coppa Italia soccer final.

In the US, NFL player Russell Okung has converted half of his salary into Bitcoin through Strike, with the crypto’s 2020-21 bull run boosting his earnings; Okung noted that “so many athletes are hitting me about Bitcoin and crypto, I’m doing calls everyday,” in a Twitter post.