STRANGE BUT TRUE: THE DOGECOIN EREBUS MERCEDES PLAN


Renders of the proposed Erebus Dogecoin livery distributed in 2014. Pic: Supplied

EREBUS Motorsport’s Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG V8 Supercars carried plenty of different sponsors during their three-year racing life.

Their debut in 2013 featured prominent backers carried over from Stone Brothers Racing, but the next two seasons required plenty of free-thinking from the squad’s commercial department.

One deal that didn’t quite come off involved an unusual brand that was very much niche at the time but has rocketed into the mainstream since.

In mid-2014 supporters of the cryptocurrency Dogecoin bandied together through online community Reddit in an attempt to crowdfund sponsorship of Lee Holdsworth’s Mercedes.

Dogecoin had been created in 2013 as a joke utilising a popular internet meme of a shiba inu (a Japanese hunting dog), but quickly gathered a cult following.

How Holdsworth’s car ended up racing in Townsville. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

An approach to Erebus was made following a similar crowdfunding push that resulted in a Phil Parsons Racing NASCAR driven by Josh Wise running full-car Dogecoin branding at Talladega.

The Dogecoin community’s support of Wise gained further headlines when it managed to get the driver into the NASCAR All-Star race’s fan-voted starting slot.

Erebus’ then commercial manager Jeff Reibel, now CEO of the North Queensland Cowboys NRL team, worked with the Dogecoin community to map out a plan for the V8 sponsorship.

“This is an opportunity to engage a whole new fan base online,” Reibel told Speedcafe at the time.

“We saw what happened with Josh Wise, who is a guy that doesn’t race full-time, beating Danica Patrick in the All-Star vote.

“More eyeballs to our sport and more interest in our sport can only lead to better outcomes for everyone.”

Bonnet-only sponsorship was a secondary target. Pic: Supplied

Reibel stressed the need for the deal to take place at commercial rates. A target of US$50,000 was set for the full car sponsorship and US$20,000 for the bonnet only.

Pledges were accepted in both US Dollars and Dogecoins. At the time, the full sponsorship was reportedly the equivalent to around 110 million Dogecoins.

The plan was initially centred around the Darwin event in June, before a switch of focus to the following month’s Townsville 500.

The project gained plenty of attention, with websites like NBC Sports and Jalopnik carrying the story in addition to local media, while Holdsworth appeared on Reddit to promote the proposal.

However, the amount of funding raised was only enough for a small space on the car and the idea was parked ahead of further discussions with Dogecoin representatives.

“It couldn’t be done (properly) just by putting a rear wing or rear quarter out there. So, what we’ve done is put it on hold,” said Reibel.

While the beloved shiba inu never appeared on an Erebus Mercedes, the idea was rebooted later that year to help then struggling Erebus Academy Dunlop Series driver Jack Le Brocq.

JLB’s Falcon in action at Bathurst. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

That effort involved an AUD$5,000 figure for bonnet sponsorship of the Image Racing Falcon at the Bathurst round. It’s unclear how much exactly was raised, but the logo did run on the car.

In subsequent years Dogecoin and its supporters have been on a wild ride.

While the details of that are best covered elsewhere, this story remains a curious footnote in the history of the fondly remembered Erebus Mercedes V8 Supercars.



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