Historic Budweiser, KBR deal to end

Updated: March 16, 2009, 1:33 PM ET
By Terry Blount | ESPN.com

The longest running sponsorship in auto racing will come to a close when Budweiser ends its 30-year relationship with Kenny Bernstein Racing's NHRA team after the 2009 season.

Anheuser-Busch made the announcement Monday, also saying 2009 will be the last year for Budweiser as the official beer sponsor of the NHRA.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Bernstein
Courtesy NHRA Brandon Bernstein has held the driving duties for his father's team since 2003.

Budweiser was with Bernstein through all six of his NHRA championships, including four consecutive Funny Car titles from 1985-88 and his two Top Fuel crowns in 1996 and 2001.

The relationship continued after Bernstein retired and handed over the driving duties to his son, Brandon Bernstein, in 2003. KBR is in the process of finding a new sponsor for the 2010 season.

"Budweiser provided us the opportunity to make a career of doing what we love," Kenny Bernstein said. "We owe a debt of gratitude to all the Anheuser-Busch employees and wholesalers we've worked with, as well as the fans and friends who've followed and supported us all these years."

The Budweiser deal made history last season when it surpassed the 28-year relationship STP had with Richard Petty to become the longest sponsorship agreement in racing.

"The NHRA and Kenny Bernstein Racing have been world class partners and we're proud of everything we've accomplished together," said Dan McHugh, vice president of Anheuser-Busch. "For three decades, Budweiser helped grow the sport."

InBev, a Belgian beer company, purchased Anheuser-Busch for $49.9 billion last July. The purchase of the U.S. beer giant brought speculation over how the sale would affect Budweiser's sponsorship programs in sports.

Budweiser continues to sponsor the No. 9 Dodge that Kasey Kahne drives for Richard Petty Motorsports in the Sprint Cup series.

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com.

Terry Blount

ESPN Seattle Seahawks reporter