The first CBD-sponsored NASCAR race took place at Pocono Raceway without any ill effects. The Pocono Organics 325 (OK, 95 more miles would have been awesome) was held on June 26, and the victory went to frequent top-10 finisher Alex Bowman.
This race was a meaningful event in that NASCAR had long prohibited sponsorships to be sold to CBD companies. Many in the cannabidiol sector found this to be a contradictory stance given NASCAR’s traditional close relationships with the beer industry. So NASCAR’s turnaround was particularly welcome, given, of course, that CBD products are now a legal, mainstream sector.
Of course, in the early years, NASCAR welcomed tobacco sponsors: Winston cigarettes was famous as a major NASCAR sponsor from 1971 through 2003. Yet as recently as 2017, NASCAR stripped the logo of Veedverks, a Colorado-based medical cannabis company, off the hood of driver Carl Long’s car on the grounds that the logo had not received proper prior approval as specified in NASCAR rules.
Sponsor Pocono Organics, of Long Pond, Pennsylvania is one of the largest regenerative organic certified farms in North America. Along with CBD products, they offer a wide variety of USDA Certified Organic produce, and even operate a cafè led by Chopped champion and Executive Chef, Lindsay McClain. The Pocono Organics CBD 325 is now part of the NASCAR Cup Series, and will be an annual event.
Pocono had to adhere to NASCAR’s new CBD guidelines that their products must test at an independent lab for having no more than 0.3% of THC. This was not difficult for the grower, as their hemp crop is hand-seeded, hand-cut and hand-dried by their own staff. What is does is open the door to a new revenue driver for NASCAR teams and tracks, as the race series lives or dies by corporate funding and CBD is certainly a key opportunity.
Except that NASCAR’s corporate media rights partners are not uniformly on board. So while the race was televised on NBC, viewers would barely have noticed the connection. NBC did not mention CBD at all during the broadcast, and showed an alternate version of the track logo that highlighted “325”, not “CBD”. In addition, their announcers called the race the “Pocono Organics.com 325” during the broadcast. Other network restrictions that would affect any CBD television advertising and promotion include not showing consumption, not appearing to target minors, and of course not making an unsupported health claims. So while it will take some time until CBD products have the same on-air presence as major brewers, they’ve at least made a start.