May 4, 2012; Talladega, AL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Michael Waltrip (55) during practice for the Aarons 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE
NASCAR driver/team owner Michael Waltrip campaigning to put his name on Country Time's new flavor.
Could Michael Waltrip become the new Arnold Palmer?
While Waltrip and Palmer would never get confused on the golf course, the NASCAR driver/team owner is trying to get his name on Country Time's new half-lemonade, half-tea drink – the brand's first new flavor in 14 years.
Waltrip is part of a promotion (on Country Time's Facebook page) in which he's "campaigning" to have the new half-and-half drink called "The Waltrip." His competitors include New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (who wants to name it "The Brees") and actress Kristin Chenoweth ("The K-Cho"); the trio is featured in a series of faux-political ads in which they stump for votes.
And yes, that drink is traditionally known as an "Arnold Palmer." But Waltrip said if he wins, he's not worried about getting a challenge from the golfing king.
"I put tea first – it's tea and lemonade – so mine is different because of that," Waltrip cracked. "And I'm part English."
Waltrip actually drove a Country Time car in the Cup Series from 1988-90. But in 1990, Country Time split the season with Maxwell House coffee.
"That was sort of my dabble into half and half – I just had the products wrong," Waltrip said.
The current partnership with Country Time is just another example of Waltrip's marketability, even after he's stepped away from full-time racing.
How has he been so successful in attracting brands to partner with him? By doing just that: Partnering.
"Forming a bond with your sponsor and making them a partner more than a business relationship I think are my keys and what I've tried to accomplish over the years," he said. "I embrace what my sponsors want to do. The cool thing about it is, it doesn't take me away from who I am. I get to do exactly what I love to do."
One of Waltrip's new favorite sayings is "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice," and he tries to carry that over into business.
"If more people would live that way, then they would find life much easier," he said.
So does Waltrip have a legitimate shot of beating Brees in the Country Time campaign?
"New Orleans Saints fans are pretty passionate," he said, "but I'll put my NASCAR fans up against anybody."