Tha Sports Junkies 101

Levine Family Racing Adds Malwarebytes Sponsorship After Recent Ransomware Attack

Circle Sport – Leavine Family Racing


This past weekend at Sonoma, Circle-Sport Leavine Family Racing began an association with new sponsor. The story behind it however, is one of the most coincidental and unusual in the history of the sport.

Circle-Sport Leavine Family Racing was hit by a TeslaCrypt (form of ransomware) attack in April prior to the Texas race. The data were one by one were encrypted and unable to be opened without a random note appearing. The data held hostage included car set ups, car part lists, and custom high-profile simulation packages valued at $2 million. The team estimated that to recreate this data, it would have taken the team nearly 1,500 man-hours.

“Then we spent 24 hours trying to figure out what happened,” crew chief Dave Winston said, adding the team’s IT person was consulted and they called local computer repair shops. “But we discovered there was nothing we could do.”

Co-Owner Bob Leavine forked out $500 worth of bitcoins, after doing an internet search of the currency that was unfamiliar to the team and locating an bitcoin ATM barely two miles from the team’s shop in Concord, North Carolina. The team’s IT personnel had already downloaded an application for a bitcoin wallet, necessary for obtaining the online currency. The files were returned the next day safely and unencrypted.

CFR worked with Richard Childress Racing to prevent a similar incident from happening. Winston said while working with the RCR group, one company name that kept coming up was Malwarebytes. The rest however, is strange racing history.

Malwarebytes, a California-based company that provides advanced malware prevention and remediation, served as an associate sponsor on Michael McDowell’s No. 95 Chevrolet during this past Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350. The company will also be the team’s primary sponsor next month at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as well as other select events this season.

Unlike traditional sponsorships, it is the first sponsor agreement for the team using a CPM (Cost Per Impression) model as a sales tool. “We’re selling assets but we’re (also) selling impressions,” team Vice President Jeremy Lange said. “We’re selling a guaranteed amount of impressions and then we are going to use the assets — paint schemes, social media, driver appearances, press, etc., to basically drive the value of impressions to reach a certain amount, and that’s what the program is based on.”

The remaining races Malwarebytes will sponsor will be determined on a later date.