This week Ed Carpenter Racing announced the final of the Indy 500's 35 car entries, for race rookie Rinus Veekay, “sponsored” by cryptocurrency Bitcoin. There’s only one problem with that, Bitcoin is a decentralized entity, meaning nobody owns it or operates it. Therefore, there isn’t anyone to actually provide sponsorship dollars, and there’s no marketing budget to tap. So who is paying the bills? A bunch of weird nerds who want to see the value of Bitcoin increase.
Ed Carpenter himself had this to say of the No. 21 Chevrolet’s sponsorship package: “I could not be more excited that this project is becoming a reality. 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.”
Ed Carpenter later had this to say to Autoweek Magazine, “Motorsports is a challenging industry. We’re a sponsorship-driven industry and it’s getting harder and harder to compete in the space with other race teams, with other marketers, with other sports properties. So I’m always looking for new ways to make sure that I’m running a sustainable business. I’ve been getting involved with this, and I see a lot of opportunity to change the way we do business. Obviously, I can’t pay my Chevy contract in Bitcoin yet, but I see a future where that will change, and if I can be at the tip of the spear of that, it’s a fun project and one that’s also doing historic things for the Bitcoin community as well.”
ECR has partnered with a company called Strike to “fundraise on behalf of the Bitcoin community”. It’s a crowdfunded project, allowing people to send money directly to Ed Carpenter Racing to support the 21 car’s excursions through the month of May. “A unique QR code enables the world’s first peer-to-car contribution model allowing anyone in the world to donate,” ECR stated in a press release.
The idea here is that Strike will facilitate the movement of funds with a special QR code which will allow people to send money directly to the car. People can send in USD, pounds, Euros, Bitcoin, or whatever currency they have, then Strike will pay out to ECR in greenbacks so that it can pay its suppliers. The obvious victory here for Strike is that they get to skim a little bit off the top.
Ed himself has confirmed that he is heavily invested into Bitcoin, and the hope here is that the value of BTC will increase with the exposure created by putting the crypto on his Indy entry. Presumably Strike would also win with an increase in BTC. What do the peer-to-car donations receive for their generous input? Presumably they will also be heavily invested into Bitcoin, and seeing the car do well will bring more people into this weird scheme, bringing the price up, and perhaps undoing some of the damage Elon Musk did this week.
That sounds an awful lot like a pyramid scheme, but really it’s just a confidence game. Don’t be the last one holding the bag. And turn the lights off on your way out.
And just because this quote sounds like some cult talking points bullshit, I’m just going to drop it right here. Enjoy!
“Ed’s message is simple; he doesn’t want to race for potato chips or soft drinks at the Indy 500,” said Jack Mallers, founder of Strike. “This year, Ed is racing for human freedom, financial literacy, financial inclusivity, and is using the platform he’s earned throughout his career to promote the most powerful message possible in pushing humanity forward. We’re tremendously proud to support his efforts.”
So how does ECR get away with using the Bitcoin logos without express written permission from Bitcoin? Bitcoin, like Antifa, isn’t an entity. “No one has to authorize putting the logos on the car because it’s not trademarked,” Carpenter said. “That’s just something we can do. There’s no one policing that.”