During the Daytona 500 race, a bizarre set of events led to over 200 gallons of jet fuel being deposited all over the racetrack with just 40 laps remaining. First, a more routine caution came out. There was some debris on the track, and trucks were being used to get it clean off. However, driver Juan Pablo Montoya had something happen to his car, causing him to lose control even at the relatively lower caution speed. The car turned sideways and careened into one of the cleaning trucks, causing an explosion and massive fire to break out.
You would imagine NASCAR would have some special chemical that they would use in such a situation, something you or I could never get our hands on. Surprisingly, when it came time to clean off the Daytona track from jet fuel, oil, and the charred remains of the cleaning truck and Montoya’s car, they turned to a household ingredient that almost everyone has access too. Good ‘ole Tide detergent.
The cleaning crew was bringing out Tide detergent boxes one after another and pouring them on the track. Now, once again, you would think that if Tide is the standard for dealing with such a situation, NASCAR would probably have some industrial-sized barrel of it. Nope, they brought it out in the pretty little red boxes, just like you would buy in your local supermarket.
Could it just be that NASCAR prefers Tide over competing detergents? Sure. Or maybe Tide is just simply the best. However, it seems even more likely that we are witnessing some of the best product placement of all time. After all, everyone who was watching the race was talking about Tide detergent during the almost hour-long delay. Much better than a commercial, which most people routinely ignore. This “commercial” was the center of attention, and now it is seeping out beyond just NASCAR fans.
In any case, it’s a great break for Tide. One just wonders if there’s a deal brokered behind closed doors where Tide contributes money to be the cleaner of choice when tragedy strikes. Guess we’ll never know.