For the past 12 years, Brandt has been a staple partner in NASCAR, specifically backing Justin Allgaier. It’s one of the longest running driver/sponsorship combinations in the sport across all three premier divisions.
But this weekend at Circuit of The Americas, Brandt will be sponsoring two JR Motorsports Chevrolets, as it did in three races last year.
Miguel Paludo will drive the No. 88 car for JRM three times during the 2022 season, with COTA being his first opportunity. The Brazilian driver will also chase a checkered flag at Road America (July 2) and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course (July 30).
“It‘s an honor for me to drive for such a great organization, the Brandt family,” Paludo told Jayski.com in a conversation on Thursday. “It‘s a family company, and I‘ve known Rick (Brandt, owner) and the whole family over the years and they‘re passionate about the sport.
“Justin Allgaier has been a great teammate, a great friend. There‘s nothing better than sharing the same sponsor and representing them this weekend.”
Paludo’s relationship with Brandt stems from working with Allgaier at Turner Scott Motorsports in 2012. While Allgaier was chasing the Xfinity Series championship, Paludo was full time in the Camping World Truck Series and needed a sponsor. Brandt stepped up to sponsor Paludo at its home track, Chicagoland Speedway, as the agricultural company wanted to expand its business to different countries, beginning with Brazil. That same weekend, Allgaier would make his Cup Series debut in the bright red Brandt colors.
Since 2015, Brandt has been a full-time partner with Paludo, as he’s on a string of consecutive Porsche Carrera Cup championships entering the 2022 season.
Representing Brandt, Paludo has worn multiple hats to be a small part of the firm‘s growth. Years ago when getting into racing professionally, he earned a business administration degree, having a backup plan in case racing didn’t pan out. It’s safe to say he’s put that knowledge to use with Brandt.
“When I saw the Brazil project, it was a small company back then, and it‘s grown every year,” Paludo stated. “I‘m glad to do the job and glad I‘m part of it. It‘s getting to the point where I feel like I can‘t do more. Not because I don‘t want to, but it‘s growing in an intense way and I need to focus on racing. At the end of the day, I‘m a racecar driver and everything else is secondary.”
Frankly, when Brandt goes to visit Paludo in Brazil, the driver is the one in charge of the schedule, becoming an integral part of the program. Many of the Brandt customers in Brazil don’t speak English, so Paludo can become a translator of sorts.
“Miguel has become much more than just a racecar driver for us,” Brandt said in a statement to Jayski a few months back. “He is an integral part of us and aids greatly to our team, our customers and our culture.”
Meanwhile in America, Brandt continues to be a mainstay on Allgaier’s No. 7 car. This year, the company will adorn JRM in 21 races for Allgaier; 24 in total with Paludo’s three events.
Admittedly, Allgaier says Brandt, the owner, is nothing like a typical CEO. When at the track, Brandt can typically be found in the driver’s lounge hanging out with the team, fully invested on making the No. 7 program better.
“This has been a passion and he‘s done more to take care of me in my racing career than I could ever imagine,” Allgaier said of Brandt. “It‘s something that‘s been super influential to me, and I have a great relationship with them and love hanging out with him.”
Together, Allgaier has gone on some adventurous trips with Brandt. Last year, they flew down to Tampa Bay to watch the Lightning — Allgaier’s favorite NHL team — win the Stanley Cup. Allgaier has also competed in road races in Brazil as a teammate to Paludo, while also traveling to Barcelona to host Brandt customers at a Formula 1 race.
And whenever Allgaier is done racing, he might find himself an immediate job.
“Part of Rick‘s goal is when I‘m done racing and he‘s done sponsoring, whatever that looks like and wherever that lands, someday I could go and work at the company and help them,” Allgaier said. “I don‘t know what that looks like as far as me retiring and him getting out of the sport — anything can and will happen at a given moment — but I look at Rick like family. A lot of me wants to not let him down whenever we‘re done racing and figure out what that next chapter looks like.”
With two Brandt-sponsored cars on the track this weekend, it might get a tad confusing for spotters, Allgaier said. His dad, Mike Allgaier, will be one of the spotters for the No. 7 car and is used to seeing the bright red machine.
That’s not the case this weekend, as Allgaier will be piloting a special white Brandt car for just the fourth time. Paludo will be in the famed red car.
But to have two Brandt cars in the field, Allgaier said, is a “big deal.”
“One of the things that we do with our relationship with Brandt is, most people aren‘t going out and buying Brandt products,” he added. “They‘re not looking for that consumer grab; that‘s not what helps their brand. We‘re catering to a very specific market.
“For us, hospitality is key. Having not only one car on the track, but two, giving the folks that we bring to the racetrack or that are at home watching it two cars to cheer for, that‘s a big deal. A lot of folks don‘t realize how big of a deal that really is.”
Brandt will host roughly 40 people at COTA this weekend, including several guests from Brazil, who are attending a race for the first time. That’s a relief, given the last two years sponsors have had minimal at-track activation with COVID-19.
The first time the Brandt cars — and the entire field — will be on track is Friday afternoon for practice and qualifying. Allgaier has won three times on road courses, while Paludo was running near the front in all three of his starts in 2021, having just one finish to show for it.
With the addition of practice and qualifying, Paludo believes it will pay off.
“It‘s an honor to drive the number , but we have no points,” Paludo said. “I need to qualify in on time, and I don‘t think speed will be an issue, but you never know the unknowns. Our goal is to focus on ourselves, run a good lap in practice and make sure we have the speed set for qualifying.”
Last year at COTA, Paludo’s run was derailed by a broken rear gear, finishing 34th. Allgaier, however, finished a solid third.