France comments on search for title sponsor: NASCAR CEO Brian France was among the professional sports commissioners who met with the Associated Press Sports Editors at meetings in New York Thursday. Asked about the status of NASCAR finding a replacement for Sprint at the Cup Series title sponsor, France stated "We're ahead of schedule, where normally these things take longer to do." France expects [a] decision soon "There's no playbook when it comes to a billion-dollar sports deal."(4-22-2016)
NASCAR continues search for Cup Series title sponsor: Recent fundamental changes in NASCAR have helped broaden its appeal in its search for a new title sponsor for its premier Cup series, according to Brent Dewar, NASCAR's chief operating officer. The Cup series' current title sponsor, Sprint, will conclude its sponsorship deal at the end of the 2016 season. "If you haven't been around NASCAR in the last two or three years, you really haven't been around NASCAR," Dewar said. "It's really allowing us an opportunity to talk to a wide group, whether it's blue-chip domestic companies, to internationals, to regional companies - and we have a great story to tell. It's casting a wide net. We're in a nice place, and we've been to some really cool companies, talking about our sport. We hope to find a partner that will deliver equally the strength that we've gotten from Sprint." Dewar maintained there is no specific timetable for the announcement of a new title sponsor but added NASCAR hopes to give its new sponsor time to get make a seamless transition into the new role much like it did with the arrival of Nextel-then-Sprint.(Motorsport)(12-3-2015)
Sprint ending sponsorship deal with NBA: Sprint Corp. is ending its four-year sponsorship deal with the National Basketball Association seven months after announcing an end to its NASCAR Sprint Cup deal. Sprint spokesman Dave Mellin confirmed a mutual decision between the company and league in an email Wednesday, providing what he said was a joint statement with the league. "After careful evaluation, Sprint and the NBA have decided not to extend their marketing partnership," the statement said. "We are proud of our four-year relationship and our joint efforts to leverage technology to bring the game of basketball closer to the fans." Word of the NBA news surfaced in an online report by Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal. "Sprint officials told the NBA last Wednesday that the company will not renew the four-year, $222 million NBA sponsorship it signed during the 2011 lockout, which was then the largest sponsorship deal in league history," its post said. Sprint is in danger of losing its standing as No. 3 in the industry to fast growing T-Mobile US Inc. T-Mobile recently said its subscriber count grew to 58.9 million at the end of June. Sprint, with 57.1 million subscribers at the end of March, has not reported a June total. Ending both the NBA and NASCAR sponsorships sharply reduces Sprint's sports-related marketing.(Kansas City Star)(7-16-2015)
NASCAR looking for $1 billion over 10 years from new title sponsor of top series: NASCAR is asking $1 billion over 10 years for its soon-to-be-open Sprint Cup Series title sponsorship, according to sources. The sanctioning body has hit the market for Sprint's replacement with a price tag of $45 million to $50 million annually in rights fees and the same in activation over a decade, according to sources. Sprint confirmed in December that it would end its 13-year sponsorship of NASCAR's top series after the 2016 season. NASCAR declined to comment for this story. The asking price represents a 33% increase from the original deal, which was signed in 2004 with Nextel for a reported $750 million over 10 years before Sprint and Nextel merged. Amid struggling TV ratings and attendance for NASCAR at the time, Sprint negotiated that down to approximately $50 million annually when it signed a three-year extension in 2011, according to sources. The Sprint deal is the largest sports sponsorship in North America.(Sports Business Journal)(3-3-2015)
No early exit expected for title sponsor Sprint: The last time NASCAR needed a title sponsor for its premier series, the existing company was replaced with four years remaining on its contract. But executives aren't expecting a repeat with Sprint already having announced its impending exit after the 2016 season.
"Do I think (Sprint) will exit early? No," NASCAR Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps told MotorsportsTalk after NASCAR played host to the opening news conference Monday of the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour. "Do I think we'll find someone for '16?#Only because we want to make sure the process is really followed smartly. Trying to rush through to find something for '16 ... although on one hand, people might say, 'You get someone new, (and) they're not a lame duck' or whatever term, I don't think that's the right approach. And the good thing is since Sprint is very engaged, they are honoring their commitments to us, which are extensive. So I think we're in a good spot." Sprint officials have indicated they fully will honor the remainder of its deal, and NASCAR Chairman Brian France said Monday after his annual State of the Sport address that he didn't expect Sprint would be replaced early. NASCAR and Sprint entered into negotiations about the title sponsorship last fall, and the wireless communications company announced its departure in mid-December with two years left on a three-year extension that was signed in 2011.(NBC Sports)(1-27-2015)
New Sprint CEO involved in soccer: You may have heard that NASCAR lost its title sponsor the other day, that telecommunications giant Sprint is pulling out of the draft after the 2016 season. What you may not have heard is one of the reasons why: Soccer. Sprint has a new CEO, and while he's from south of the Mason-Dixon line, it's real far south, farther south than Kannapolis, N.C., or even Hueytown in Alabama. Marcelo Claure is from Bolivia. When he became CEO of Sprint in August, it was agreed by a board of directors and stockholders and such that Claure should eliminate 3,700 jobs and $1.5 billion from departmental budgets. Sprint's initial agreement with NASCAR was $750 million for 10 years, so that must have seemed like a good place to start, especially if you're a soccer guy and not a car guy. Claure owns a soccer team in Bolivia and is trying to bring Major League Soccer to Miami. His partner is global soccer icon David Beckham. Ain't that a corner kick to the head? "You certainly don't want to lose a sponsor like that," Las Vegas Motor Speedway president Chris Powell said, "but I don't think this is a comment on the business of NASCAR. I think it's more a comment on Sprint's business. That's what I'm seeing from a distance."(Las Vegas Review Journal)(12-27-2014)
Sprint Experience will not be used in 2015: Sprint, which announced Wednesday it would discontinue sponsorship of the Sprint Cup Series at the end of its current contract, no longer will host its 15,000-square-foot Sprint Experience interactive display area at NASCAR tracks, multiple sources confirmed to the [Charlotte] Observer. The Sprint Experience brings fans closer to the sport by offering custom interactive games, driver and celebrity appearances, participation in stage games, and the latest handsets and technologies available from Sprint. Hospitality industry workers and others associated with transporting and operating the mobile display were informed this week they would not be used next season, sources said. Sprint officials declined to address the issue when asked Thursday for comment. "We will continue to use the NASCAR Sprint Cup sponsorship platform in 2015 and 2016 to drive our business," said spokesperson Kimberly Meesters. "Every season we evaluate our specific NASCAR programs and adjust as needed. We are finalizing the details of our 2015 plan now and will be ready to kick off the season Feb. 14 for the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona."(Charlotte Observer)(12-19-2014)
Marketing pros look at process for replacing Sprint: Don't worry, NASCAR fans, about Sprint leaving as the sponsor of the stockcar racing's premier series. At least not yet. Those in the marketing world think NASCAR will find a sponsor to replace the telecom company when it exits after the 2016 season. It remains to be seen whether NASCAR can attract a company to spend an estimated $70 million-$75 million annually as it did when it first signed Nextel back in 2003 to start in 2004. But the quick service restaurant industry (Subway, Burger King, etc.), packaged goods (Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Unilever, etc.), consumer products (Panasonic, LG, etc.) or companies looking to boost their product line (as was Nextel) will be prime candidates for NASCAR's next deal. There also could be interest from new or quickly developing industries, such as the energy sector. These types of sponsorship deals typically take three to six months to complete, and NASCAR likely needs to have a good idea of who will sponsor the series by next July, [Just Marketing International CEO Zak] Brown said. That would be a little late to Humpy Wheeler, the former president of Charlotte Motor Speedway and parent company Speedway Motorsports Inc. He'd like to see a sponsor in place by this time next year, and he's optimistic that NASCAR will land one. NASCAR's most recent deals for its top two series were for seven and 10 years, so it likely will want this one will to have a similar term. But with things changing so quickly in so many industries, a potential sponsor's executive might prefer a shorter term considering the price.(Sporting News)(12-18-2014)
Sprint will not return as Series sponsor: Citing a need to focus more directly on its core business priorities, Sprint announced it has informed NASCAR it will not extend the title sponsorship of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series after the current agreement expires at the end of the 2016 season. "We are proud of our association with NASCAR's top series but have made the decision not to extend our sponsorship beyond the next two years," said Steve Gaffney, vice president-Marketing, Sprint. "As we look to the future, Sprint is focused on investing in maintaining a competitive edge and providing consumers with the best value in wireless.Sprint has long benefitted from the unprecedented level of brand integration available in NASCAR, and the passionate fan base that is the most loyal in sports. Without question, the NASCAR sponsorship property has been a valuable investment for us and will be for our successor."
Since the partnership began in 2004, Sprint has worked closely with NASCAR to bring many fan-friendly innovations to life, including the introduction of the FanView next generation scanner (2005), the creation of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile wireless application (2008) and the debut of Miss Sprint Cup (2007), an ambassador program that now has more than 1.5 million social media followers. The constant evolution of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race pre-race show and the improvements to the Sprint Vision trackside programming also highlight Sprint's portfolio of fan enhancements.
"We genuinely appreciate the fans, teams, drivers, tracks and media who have been so supportive and welcoming to us during these many race seasons," said Gaffney. "We look forward to our remaining time as sponsor of the Sprint Cup Series and eventually assisting with the transition to NASCAR's next title partner."
The sponsorship extends back to 2004 when Nextel signed a 10-year partnership with NASCAR for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. The name changed to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2008 as a result of the Nextel/Sprint corporate merger. At the conclusion of the first 10 years, Sprint extended the partnership an additional three years taking the contract through the end of the 2016 season(Sprint)
NASCAR Statement: "NASCAR and Sprint have enjoyed a long and productive partnership that has returned significant value to both parties. We understand significant changes within Sprint and the highly competitive business environment it is in has led to a decision not to extend its Cup Series entitlement position following the 2016 season. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is a very unique, premium sports marketing platform with strong momentum, so we are very confident of moving forward in 2017 with an outstanding new partner. In the meantime, we look forward to Sprint's partnership on the best racing series in the world for the next two seasons."(12-16-2014)
NASCAR expects to begin talks to extend deal with Sprint: Feeling bullish after the first season of the new Chase for the Sprint Cup format, NASCAR COO Brent Dewar expressed plenty of confidence about the future during a one-on-one interview yesterday at the '14 NASCAR Motorsports Marketing Forum, held at the Aria Resort in Las Vegas. Dewar said the mainstream allure of the new knockout-style Chase reinvigorated both fans and the industry, leading to growth in ratings and the potential for new sponsorships. Dewar said he expects more drama in the early part of next season as drivers start to utilize what they learned this season about how the new format works. He added that he expects ESPN to continue to cover the sport meaningfully despite the fact that media rights are shifting to NBC and Fox. Dewar, a longtime GM exec before joining NASCAR, also revealed that he and other key execs will soon begin talks with Sprint, whose title sponsorship runs through '16, about a new deal. Citing Sprint's recent challenges in the telecom industry, Dewar conceded that the task will be a tall one. "That will be a big effort," he said.(Sports Business Daily)(12-4-2014)
Sprint calls off T-Mobile merger; names new CEO: Sprint confirmed Wednesday Marcelo Claure will take over as president and CEO of the third largest wireless carrier in the U.S. Claure, 43, had served as founder and CEO of Brightstar Corp., a wireless distributor based in Miami and subsidiary of Sprint parent company Softbank. Claure will assume the Sprint CEO role on August 11. The executive shift follows reports that Sprint planned on calling off its merger with T-Mobile, the fourth largest wireless carrier in the U.S., because of challenging regulatory hurdles. Both companies had been working on a potential merger valued as high as $50 billion. Last week, French telecom Iliad confirmed it made a bid to scoop up T-Mobile for $15 billion. In a statement, Claure says he will focus immediately on "competing aggressively" in the marketplace. "While consolidating makes sense in the long-term, for now, we will focus on growing and repositioning Sprint." Claure will replace Dan Hesse, who had served as Sprint CEO since 2007. During his tenure, he navigated the wireless carrier's merger with Softbank, completed last year, and shut down Nextel network, which Sprint acquired in 2004. Although Sprint is the third largest U.S. carrier, the company has struggled to capture the attention of mobile consumers. AT&T and Verizon dominate much of the U.S. mobile market, while T-Mobile has generated buzz over its "Uncarrier" strategy that moves away from traditional mobile contracts.(USA Today)(8-6-2014)
Winston to be made in England: Reynolds and Lorillard announced Tuesday morning that they have entered into a definitive agreement in which Winston-Salem-based Reynolds has agreed to acquire Greensboro-based Lorillard. Reynolds will keep the Newport, Camel, Pall Mall and Natural American Spirit cigarette brands; Grizzly smokeless tobacco; and VUSE e-cigarettes. In what is likely an early attempt to appease antitrust regulators, the KOOL, Salem, Winston, Maverick and blu eCigs brands and other assets and liabilities will be sold to Britain's Imperial Tobacco. If the transaction is completed, a transition period will begin during which Reynolds will contract manufacture KOOL, Salem and Winston for Imperial and Imperial will contract manufacture Newport for Reynolds.(Triad Business Journal), Winston sponsored the now Sprint Cup Series from 1971 thru 2003.(7-16-2014)
Sprint Experience a 'no show' at New Hampshire: Sprint, the sponsor of NASCAR's premier Cup series, has recently cut back on the number of tracks at which it will host its nearly 15,000-square-foot Sprint Experience interactive display area. Race fans on Friday took to Twitter and other social media sites complaining the popular display was not at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, some blaming NASCAR or the track itself for its absence. Speedway president Jerry Gappens said the track was informed less than two weeks ago that Sprint would not be bringing the Experience this weekend. As of Friday afternoon, Sprint's web site page dedicated to the Experience still said it would be appearing at all 36 Cup race weekends this season. "As a promoter, when I got word two weeks ago I was disappointed because it creates a void in the display area that is a featured attraction for fan interaction," Gappens said. "The Sprint display has been a very popular activity for our fans for years. To have that not here, takes away from the experience. Sprint is in a very competitive business and needed to divert some of the money it took to activate it to advertising." Gappens said the track - and others coming up including Michigan, Watkins Glen and Atlanta - will still get paid for the display space. "I'd still like to see it here, though," he said.
When asked about the decision not to bring the Sprint Experience to New Hampshire, spokesperson Kimberly Meesters provided the following statement to The Observer: "We have an abbreviated schedule during the summer. It will be at New Hampshire in the fall. Some years we take it to every race. Some years we focus on the markets most important to Sprint corporate priorities. Sometimes we send it every week but send smaller footprints. It varies. We are doing 33 races this season."(Charlotte Observer)(7-12-2014)
Sprint name to go away? T-Mobile Cup? Sprint might not be Sprint in the near future, and if the company does want to keep its name, it might have to pay a pretty penny. If Sprint merges with T-Mobile, it is expected to adopt the T-Mobile moniker, according to the latest reports from CNBC. Not only that, it looks like if the deal doesn't go through because of regulatory hurdles, Sprint will have to pony up a hefty $2 billion to T-Mobile. There are more indications that the T-Mobile brand will be the ultimate victor. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has admitted he is okay with not leading the combined company, and reports indicated eccentric T-Mobile CEO John Legere and his management team will be the new leaders. But it's been Sprint that's been pushing the merger, not T-Mobile. Sprint parent company SoftBank's chief executive Masayoshi Son has been touting the merger as a way to shake up the stale U.S. wireless industry.(Latin Post)(6-17-2014)
New, larger Sprint Vision makes debut at Michigan: Large video boards at Texas Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway have changed and enhanced the overall viewing experience for fans who attend races at those venues. With that in mind, a new and larger Sprint Vision board made its debut this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. While the new video board isn't as big as its counterparts in Charlotte and Fort Worth, it is big enough for fans in the stands to get a good up-close view of what's going on around the track and in the driver's seat. Plus, unlike the boards at Texas and Charlotte, the new Sprint Vision is "portable" enough that it will appear at every remaining track on the Sprint Cup schedule this season (except, of course, the two tracks with the huge boards).
The new Sprint Vision is 18 feet high by 32.4 feet wide, a significant size increase from the former version. Plus, it's High Definition to give a crisper, clearer viewing experience, according to Sprint officials.(NBC Sports)(6-17-2014)
Comcast Xfinity, NASCAR in talks for series title deal : NASCAR is in advanced talks with Comcast Xfinity about becoming title sponsor of the sport's secondary series. Nationwide Insurance, which has sponsored the series since 2007, is in the final year of its title sponsorship, and NASCAR has been looking for a replacement sponsor for the Nationwide Series since last fall. Conversations with Xfinity, which is Comcast's video service, have been going on for several months. Sources familiar with the negotiations said the parties have not reached a contract phase but that Comcast has emerged as a leading candidate for the sponsorship. NASCAR Chief Sales Officer Jim O'Connell said the company doesn't comment on discussions with current or potential sponsors. He added, "With regards to the Nationwide Series, we're speaking to a number of companies in a number of different industries." Comcast did not reply to a request for comment. NASCAR is asking $12 million to $15 million annually in rights fees for the title sponsorship of the series. Media and activation commitments would take the total costs of the deal to more than $25 million. In addition to Comcast Xfinity, NASCAR has met with a number of companies in the auto aftermarket category, including Advance Auto Parts and AutoZone. Nationwide Insurance is spending approximately $10 million in rights fees for title sponsorship of the series. Its total spend, which includes activation at track and media spending, is in excess of $20 million. The company opted to discontinue its sponsorship of the series in order to become an official NASCAR sponsor and sponsor the #88 car driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Next year, Nationwide will sponsor Earnhardt Jr. in 12 Sprint Cup races.(Sports Business Journal)(6-16-2014)
Sprint Adds Julianna White to 2014 Miss Sprint Cup Lineup: Nearly 1.5 million fans and followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were given the first look this morning as Sprint unveiled the newest member of the 2014 Miss Sprint Cup lineup, Julianna White of Haddon Township, N.J. Since Monday, four-year Miss Sprint Cup veteran Kim Coon and rookie Madison Martin have posted clues on the Miss Sprint Cup social networks hinting at White's identity. White, a former Miss New Jersey USA, is the youngest in her family, with one older sister and 38 first cousins. In 2011, she graduated with a degree in Communication Studies from The College of New Jersey. White is making her debut this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway as the track plays host to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Weekend.(Sprint PR)(5-17-2014)
Brooke Werner steps down as Miss Sprint Cup: Miss Sprint Cup Brooke Werner announced Wednesday on her Facebook page that she is resigning as Miss Sprint Cup due to personal reasons. Werner posted the following message on Facebook on Wednesday.
"Hey fans, difficult decisions are always tough to communicate to people you love so much...like you guys. I recently made the hard decision to resign as Miss Sprint Cup for personal reasons (all good!) and hang up my firesuit. It's been one of the greatest times of my life and I have you all to thank for that. I'll miss you all very much but I know that you'll all be excited to meet the new Miss Sprint Cup soon!"
Werner, a former Miss Vermont USA, had filled the role of Miss Sprint Cup with Kim Coon and Madison Martin. This is Martin's first year in the Miss Sprint Cup program, while it's Coon's fourth. Werner was beginning her second season on tour. Miss Sprint Cup serves as the representative for Sprint, entitlement sponsor of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.(Autoweek)(3-20-2014)
New Miss Sprint Cup named: Madison Martin, a 23-year-old from Cumberland, Md., is the newest addition to the Miss Sprint Cup lineup. Martin will join Kim Coon and Brooke Werner as representatives for Sprint, entitlement sponsor of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, for the 2014 season. "The biggest part is bringing NASCAR to the fans," Martin said of her new job. "Giving them that cool, personal experience that I had at my first race. If I can make somebody's day by talking to them ... about the sport I love, that's an amazing opportunity."(NASCAR.com)(12-21-2013)
Dish Network to make bid for Sprint Nextel UPDATE2: Dish Network Corp, the No. 2 U.S. satellite television provider, offered to buy Sprint Nextel Corp for $25.5 billion in cash and stock, a move that could thwart the proposed acquisition of Sprint by Japan's SoftBank Corp. Sprint shares soared 16.2 percent to their highest level since September 2008, leaving them well above the value of the Dish offer on Monday. Dish's surprise bid is the latest development as the U.S. wireless business undergoes a wave of consolidation. Dish was already in the midst of an unsolicited offer for Clearwire Corp, the wireless company majority-owned by Sprint. Dish said it would pay $4.76 per share in cash and about 0.05953 shares in Dish stock for each Sprint share. The offer, which works out to $7 per share, represents a premium of roughly 12 percent to Sprint's close on Friday. Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. mobile services provider, agreed in October to sell 70 percent of its shares to SoftBank for $20 billion. No date has been set yet for a vote on that deal. Sprint declined to comment on the Dish offer.(Reuters)(4-15-2013)
UPDATE: Sprint said it would evaluate the proposal but declined further comment. Some analysts said the Dish offer could lead to a bidding war with SoftBank. The combined entity would have 63.1 million retail subscribers and $50 billion in annual revenues, Dish said in a regulatory filing. The play for Sprint came together in the last few months as Dish started to think through all of its alternatives to gain even more spectrum, according to a source familiar with the matter. As much as Dish wants a wireless partner, analysts said Sprint also needs a deal to compete more effectively. Wells Fargo analyst Jennifer Fritzsche said Sprint management likely prefers the SoftBank offer, given the Japanese company's deeper background in the wireless market.(Money / MSN)(4-16-2013)
UPDATE 2: Sprint Nextel has formed a committee of independent directors to review a $25.5 billion buyout offer from Dish Network. The committee has retained Bank of America Merrill Lynch to act as its financial adviser and will provide an assessment to the full board, the company said Monday. Dish said Monday that it's pleased with the news. Dish Network Corp., the third-largest U.S. pay TV provider, made an unsolicited offer for Sprint Nextel Corp. earlier this month. Dish is attempting to block the sale of 70 percent of Sprint to Softbank Corp. of Japan, a deal which Sprint agreed to in October. Sprint, based in Overland Park, Kan., is the third-largest U.S. cellphone company.(AP/ABC)(4-23-2013
Cellphones at Speedway get better reception: Race fans might notice better cellphone reception during this weekend's races. International Speedway Corp., which owns and operates 13 racetracks across the country, including Daytona International Speedway, inked a deal to install permanent cellphone antennas at the Speedway that will boost reception regardless of a person's wireless telecommunications provider. This weekend's races will be the first test of how well the system performs with a large crowd on site, and the Speedway will be watching how well it works, said Joie Chitwood III, president of Daytona International Speedway. "Any opportunity for fans to have enhanced coverage on property so they can use their smartphones and the like is good for us," he said.(Daytona Beach News Journal)(2-24-2013)
Fans get to vote on Sprint Unlimited rules: For the first time in NASCAR history, fans will decide the Race Format, Pit Stops, Elimination and Miss Sprint Cup's Fire Suit in The Sprint Unlimited. More info at NASCAR.com, more info, past winners and more on my 2013 Sprint Limited page.(1-21-2013)
AND The starting lineup will be determined by fans at the track on race day. Their choices will be by 2012 owner points, practice speeds or car number.(Sporting News)(1-21-2013)
2013 Miss Sprint Cup lineup unveiled: Sprint unveiled the complete 2013 Miss Sprint Cup lineup to the more than 1 million Miss Sprint Cup followers on Facebook and Twitter. Newcomer Brooke Werner (Granville, Vt.) will join returning members Kim Coon (Orlando, Fla.) and Jaclyn Roney (Ann Arbor, Mich.) this season. Miss Sprint Cup represents the Sprint brand around the track and in Victory Lane wherever the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competes. The three representatives also serve as the fans' "friend on the inside," delivering behind-the-scenes updates, pictures and videos via Facebook and Twitter, while highlighting Sprint products and offers.(more at NASCAR.com)(1-21-2013)
Sprint will sponsor Shootout: Sprint has partnered with Daytona International Speedway to sponsor the Sprint Unlimited At Daytona, the fan-favorite non-points event formerly known as the Daytona Shootout that traditionally kicks off the stock car portion of Budweiser Speedweeks 2013 and the NASCAR season. The race will once again be held under the lights on Saturday night, Feb. 16 (FOX 8 pm/et) but will feature several new elements that will make this event even more of a fan favorite. Fans in attendance will be eligible to receive special upgraded race experiences from Sprint including roles as Grand Marshal, Honorary Starter, and trophy presenter. Fans can also help deliver the trophy to Gatorade Victory Lane or participate in driver introductions during pre-race ceremonies. As announced earlier in the year, the format for selecting the field of drivers in the invitation-only event will return to its roots for 2013. The eligible field of drivers will consist of pole winners from the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and past winners of The Sprint Unlimited who have attempted to qualify for at least one race during the 2012 season. The field for The Sprint Unlimited is currently at 22 drivers and features a who's who of NASCAR stars.(DIS)(1-7-2013)
Sprint confirms talks with Softbank UPDATE 2: Sprint Nextel Corp. says that it is talking with the Japanese cellphone company Softbank about making a potential substantial investment in the U.S. company. Sprint Nextel Corp. said Thursday that it can't assure that the talks will lead to any transaction, but also confirmed that a deal could involve a "change of control" of the company. The #3 U.S. wireless carrier said it does not plan to give any more details unless it reaches an agreement with Softbank.(Associated Press), no word on how or if this will affect sponsorship of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.(10-11-2012)
UPDATE: Sprint, which announced last December that it had extended its sponsorship of NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series through 2016, is in discussions to sell a majority of the company's stock to Japanese telecommunications company SoftBank. Sprint confirmed the talks in a news release Thursday. NASCAR officials had no immediate comment Friday on how a possible sale of the company could impact its partnership with Sprint. If Sprint is sold, it would mark the second time that NASCAR's premier series sponsor was sold since Nextel took over for Winston in 2004. Sprint bought Nextel in 2005 and assumed the original 10-year sponsorship deal that went through 2013. Sprint renamed the Nextel Cup Series to the Sprint Cup Series in 2008. Sprint announced an extension of that deal last year.(Sporting News)(10-13-2012)
UPDATE 2: Softbank, a Japanese wireless carrier, said Monday it agreed acquire 70% of Sprint Nextel for $20.1 billion, a deal that financially strengthens the third-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. More importantly, the deal deepens foreign investment in the U.S. wireless industry. SoftBank will own about 70% of a newly created entity New Sprint, and current Sprint (S) shareholder will own the remaining shares. The acquisition calls for $12.1 billion to be distributed to Sprint stockholders and $8 billion of new capital to be given to Sprint. About 55% of current Sprint shares will be exchanged for $7.30 per share in cash, and the remaining shares will convert into shares of a new publicly traded entity, New Sprint. The deal, which has been approved by the boards of directors of both SoftBank and Sprint, will require regulatory approvals and is expected to close in mid-2013.(USA Today)(10-15-2012)
2012 Miss Sprint Cup Lineup Introduced: Thousands of fans met the 2012 Miss Sprint Cup lineup during the NASCAR Preview Presented by Sprint in Charlotte, N.C. Sprint announced that returning members Kim Coon (Orlando, Fla.) and Jaclyn Roney (Ann Arbor, Mich.) have been joined by newcomer Kristen Beat of El Cajon, Calif. Coon, Roney and Beat make up the most geographically balanced Miss Sprint Cup lineup since the program's inception in 2008, representing the Southeast, Midwest and West Coast. Miss Sprint Cup represents the Sprint brand around the track and in Victory Lane wherever the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competes. The three representatives also serve as the fans' "friend on the inside," delivering via Facebook and Twitter behind-the-scenes updates, pictures and video, while highlighting Sprint products and offers. Beat adds a Southern California flare to the Miss Sprint Cup lineup. The former Fuel TV on-air talent and extreme sports reporter grew up racing motocross bikes and was a big supporter of her brother's pursuit of a professional racing career. When she isn't at the racetrack, Beat enjoys surfing, working out and honing her culinary skills with healthy recipes. After receiving her communications degree from the University of San Diego, Beat pursued her dream of a career in broadcasting, eventually becoming the youngest credentialed reporter in X-Games history. Coon returns for her second season as Miss Sprint Cup, which makes the former marketing and public relations professional the veteran member of this year's lineup. Rounding out the 2012 lineup is Roney, who is entering her first full season as Miss Sprint Cup. The Eastern Michigan University grad joined the program in July 2011 and is looking forward to attending her first Daytona 500 next month.(Sprint PR)(1-22-2012)
Sprint - NASCAR extend partnership: Transcript: Sprint CEO Dan Hesse from 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Banquet:
Good evening. I agree with many of you. This was the best Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ever. Congratulations to all of the drivers and teams who contributed to the excitement of this amazing series. Your passion for the sport and commitment to excellence continue to "wow" us.
I am privileged to be among those recognizing Tony Stewart and the number 14 team for their third NASCAR Sprint Cup championship - joining the ranks of legendary drivers Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson and Lee Petty, who all hold three Cup titles. Tony's down-to-the-last second duel with Carl Edwards was a stunning example of the competitive spirit that drives the sport and why we love NASCAR.
Tony would not be here without the exceptional support of the Stewart-Haas Racing organization, including co-owner, Gene Haas, crew chief Darian Grubb, and other number 14 crew members here tonight.
Tony, on behalf of Sprint, I want to thank you for everything you do to support our brand. You deliver value to your sponsors, which is evident in the great relationships you and your team share with Chevy, Office Depot and Mobil 1. Of course, tonight would not be possible without the resolute leadership of NASCAR. They have made a number of bold changes over the past 18 months, from adding Chase "wild card" spots, to revising the points system, to allowing NASCAR drivers to BE NASCAR drivers. This leadership creates an environment that allows the best drivers, crew members and engineers in the world to deliver racing excitement that captivates us every week.
So, I could not be more pleased than to announce and celebrate tonight, that Sprint and NASCAR have agreed to an extension of our relationship, ensuring that through at least the 2016 season, every Champion crowned will be a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion.
I would like to wish everyone in the audience, and watching at home, a very happy and safe holiday season. And Tony, I have a gift for you - one that should make your holiday brighter. On behalf of everyone at Sprint, I am proud to present this check for $5.8 million to our 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion, Tony Stewart.(NASCAR)
AND Sprint, which is based in Overland Park, KS, and NASCAR have agreed to a three-year extension to the current 10-year, $750 million partnership that was to expire after the 2013 season, sources said.
(Kansas City Star)(12-3-2011)
UPDATE NASCAR and Sprint (NYSE:S) have signed a multiyear agreement for Sprint to remain the entitlement partner of the sport's premier series. The extension keeps NASCAR and Sprint as partners through 2016, and ensures that the No. 1 finisher in the sport's top series will be a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series" champion. The agreement coincides with NASCAR's Five-Year Industry Action Plan, which is designed to help grow the sport and reach new audiences.
"Sprint has been very successful in using our sport as a platform to enhance its brand and drive their business," said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. "They have been a fantastic partner and we are immensely pleased to continue with Sprint as the entitlement partner for our premier series. This new agreement aligns perfectly with our aggressive five-year plan, which is laser-focused on continuing to improve our product, keep our existing fans engaged, and reach new fans."
"NASCAR fans are great customers who reward us with their loyalty," said Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO. "We're very pleased to continue to have our brand associated with the most competitive and exciting form of racing in the world."
Since Sprint became the title sponsor in February 2004, it has activated the sponsorship in a number of creative and innovative ways, including the introduction of NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile, the exclusive application that allows millions of Sprint customers to keep up with every lap of NASCAR action on their wireless devices each year; the Sprint Experience mobile marketing display, which entertains more than 500,000 fans each year at NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events across the country; and the introduction of Miss Sprint Cup, a fan favorite who boasts more than 1.2 million followers in the social media space on Facebook and Twitter.(Sprint)(12-3-2011)
Sprint Will Donate to Sprint Summer Showdown Designated Charities: While no NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver was able to win the Sprint Summer Showdown presented by HTC EVO 3D at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Tuesday afternoon, Sprint will make a donation of $10,000 to each of the four finalists' designated charities. "One of the things that made the Sprint Summer Showdown promotion so unique was the opportunity for a driver to win a $1 million donation for their chosen charity," said Tim Considine, director of sports marketing for Sprint. "Although we're disappointed that didn't happen, we hope this promotion helped bring additional attention and awareness to these worthy organizations, and we're happy to make a donation to each of them to help them continue their missions." The four finalists and their designated charities are:
#2-Brad Keselowski - Brad Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation
#27-Paul Menard - Habitat for Humanity
#18-Kyle Busch - Kyle Busch Foundation
#9-Marcos Ambrose - Victory Junction.(Sprint Nextel)(9-7-2011)
Four of the Sprint Summer Showdown fans still at the track: Four of the five fans paired with the drivers in the Sprint Summer Showdown presented by HTC EVO3D are in attendance at today's race. The only one not in attendance is Molly Hilyard from Sidney, Ohio, one of the two fans paired with Brad Keselowski. Hilyard does not need to be present to win, so if Keselowski wins today's race and the Sprint Summer Showdown title, Hilyard will still split the $1 million fan portion of the $3 million payout with Helene Cross from Kansas City, MO., the other fan paired with Keselowski. All four of the fans in attendance are watching the race from a special "fan stand," located just past the first pit stall in Turn 4 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.(Sprint)(9-6-2011)
Fans Eager for a Shot at the Grand Prize at the Sprint Summer Showdown: Thousands of fans will be at Atlanta Motor Speedway to see which NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver will win Sunday's AdvoCare 500, but none will be watching with more interest than the five who have a shot at a portion of the $3 million payout in the Sprint Summer Showdown.
Andrea Gay, Helene Cross, Ronald Rempinski, Dana Hardie and Molly Hilyard will be in Atlanta to see whether their qualified driver can claim the Sprint Summer Showdown title and the $3 million payout - $1 million for the driver, $1 million for the driver's charity, and $1 million for a lucky fan (or fans). "Fans are what make this sport so great, and fans have made the Sprint Summer Showdown presented by HTC EVO 3D promotion a huge success," said Tim Considine, director of sports marketing for Sprint. "We'd love to show our gratitude to every fan who entered by handing over a $1 million check to one of the five Sunday night."
Each of the five correctly picked the winning driver for one of the qualifying races on Sprint.com/Speed during the promotion, which began with the Brickyard 400 on July 31. Their names were then randomly chosen from the pool of entrants who correctly picked the winning driver for each race, and they are paired with that driver for the final race of the promotion at Atlanta. If their driver wins the race, the fan(s) win $1 million. Because he won two of the five qualifying races, Brad Keselowski will have two fans paired with him in Atlanta. If he wins, the fans will split the $1 million fan portion of the payout equally.
To help fans and viewers identify which drivers are finalists for the Sprint Summer Showdown, the four drivers' cars will feature special yellow numbers and spoilers for this event. One of the four designated charities can also claim part of the $3 million Sprint Summer Showdown purse if their respective driver crosses the finish line first on Sunday night.
The drivers, their paired fans and designated charities are:
Race Won, Driver, Designated Charity, Fan and Hometown
Indy, #27-Paul Menard, Habitat for Humanity, Andrea Gay - Voorhees, N.J.
Pocono, #2-Brad Keselowski, Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation, Helene Cross - Kansas City, Mo.
Watkins Glen, #9-Marcos Ambrose, Victory Junction, Ron Rempinski - St. Charles
Michigan, #18-Kyle Busch, Kyle Busch Foundation, Dana Hardie - Laurel Hill, NC.
Bristol, #2-Brad Keselowski, Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation, Molly Hilyard - Sidney, OH
Andrea Gay, Voorhees, N.J. - Gay played her cards right by picking a driver she felt was a long shot to win the Brickyard 400. When Paul Menard crossed the finish line at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to claim his first-ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win, he also captured Gay's heart. Gay: "I'm completely ecstatic about the opportunity to visit Atlanta and cheer on Paul. He's my favorite driver now. I've never won anything and I've never been to a NASCAR race, so this is very exciting. I just started taking classes for a master's program and my son is also going to school full-time, so we would use the money to help pay for that. It's an amazing opportunity."
Helene Cross, Kansas City, Mo. - Cross picked Brad Keselowski to win at Pocono Raceway before he injured his ankle during pre-race testing. In spite of his injury, Cross stuck to her choice and it certainly paid off. Cross: "I've never won anything before and I knew of Brad from his Nationwide Series days. I actually picked him before he injured his foot. He was a dark horse at the time and I liked that about him. If I were to win the money, I've got two grandchildren who live with me and college is right around the corner. I'd help them with money for college and pay off my bills."
Ron Rempinski, St. Charles, Mo. - A recent tour of Daytona International Speedway rekindled Rempinki's interest in NASCAR. He plans to bring his entire family to Atlanta for this once-in-a-lifetime experience and his first trip to a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Rempinski admits he didn't know a lot about Marcos Ambrose when he picked him to win at Watkins Glen International, but the driver's impressive road course stats won him over. Rempinski - "I don't have a favorite driver, so when I got to Sprint.com/Speed, I saw Marcos' name listed first. I clicked on his name and saw his statistics at Watkins Glen and liked what I saw, so I picked him. If I were fortunate enough to win, there's a lot I'd do with the money. I have three daughters. One is just starting college and the other two will be heading to college in a couple of years. This money would definitely go a long way toward helping them pay for their educations."
Dana Hardie, Laurel Hill, N.C. - Hardie admits that if Kyle Busch wins the Sprint Summer Showdown, she would likely faint at the thought of $1 million going into her bank account. She picked Busch, her favorite driver since his rookie season, before every qualifying race of the Sprint Summer Showdown and it paid off when he went to Victory Lane at Michigan International Speedway. Hardie - "It's a dream come true and a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me to have a shot at $1 million. This will be my first time on a plane and my first trip to Atlanta. I'm a huge race fan, but I've only gone to one race in my life, at Darlington Raceway. My fiancée and I have been pulling for Kyle since he was a rookie, and he's our favorite driver. I have three boys and if I were to win the money, they would never want for anything. My family has had a rough time recently. I've been unemployed for a while and my fiancée was recently laid off, so this money would really come in handy."
Molly Hilyard, Sidney, Oh. - Hilyard registered for the promotion for the first time last week, prior to the final qualifying race of the Sprint Summer Showdown at Bristol Motor Speedway. She's been an avid race fan for most of her life and says her favorite driver is one of the former pilots of "The Blue Deuce," Rusty Wallace. It was her love of the No. 2 car that caused her to pick Keselowski on Sprint.com/Speed. This weekend will mark the first time this stay-at-home mother of two will see a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in person. Hilyard - "If Brad wins, I'm going to scream like a banshee. I'd use the money to buy some land and take care of my kids. I'd use it to make sure my family is happy."(Sprint)(9-3-2011)
Sprint Summer Showdown field is set: With up to five spots available for the Sprint Summer Showdown, Brad Keselowski's win at Bristol on Saturday night locks in four drivers that could win a total of $3,000,000 if any of the four can take the checkered flag at Atlanta Motor Speedway during the Sept. 4 AdvoCare 500. Keselowski, the hottest driver on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit over the last month, won his second race during the Sprint Summer Showdown qualifying races and his third of the season at the Tennessee half-mile. Since breaking his left ankle in a testing crash at Road Atlanta, the Michigan native has four top-three finishes, including those two wins. Winning his second race during the Sprint Summer Showdown qualifying-races ensures four drivers will be eligible for the money bonus at AMS. Paul Menard, Brad Keselowski, Marcos Ambrose and Kyle Busch are the drivers that are eligible for the $1,000,000 payday if any of these four can take the checkered flag at the AdvoCare 500 at AMS over Labor Day weekend.
Name, Race, Designated Charity
#27-Paul Menard, Indianapolis, Habitat for Humanity
#2-Brad Keselowski, Pocono, Brad Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation
#9-Marcos Ambrose, Watkins Glen International, Victory Junction
#18-Kyle Busch, Michigan, Kyle Busch Foundation
#2-Brad Keselowski, Bristol, Brad Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation
(Sprint Summer Showdown PR), for more info see Jayski's Contest page.(8-28-2011)
Kyle Busch Qualifies for Sprint Summer Showdown: With his win in Sunday's Pure Michigan 400, #18-Kyle Busch is qualified to be a finalist for a chance to earn a $3 million payout in the Sprint Summer Showdown. If Busch can also win the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day weekend, he will claim the Sprint Summer Showdown title and win $1 million for himself, $1 million for his designated charity, Kyle Busch Foundation, and $1 million dollars for a lucky race fan. Later this week a fan will be randomly selected from the pool of entrants who correctly picked Busch to win the Pure Michigan 400 at sprint.com/speed. That lucky fan will enjoy an all-expenses paid trip to Atlanta Motor Speedway and be there in person to see whether Busch can win at Atlanta. If he claims the Sprint Summer Showdown, the fan will win $1 million.
Fans should visit sprint.com/speed before the final qualifying race next Saturday evening to choose which driver they think will win at Bristol Motor Speedway. A different fan will be randomly selected after each race and will be in Atlanta for the final event of the six-consecutive-race series to cheer on their driver as he vies for the $3 million payout. Fans can change their picks until the scheduled start time for each event.
Name, Race, Designated Charity
#27-Paul Menard, Indianapolis, Habitat for Humanity
#2-Brad Keselowski, Pocono, Brad Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation
#9-Marcos Ambrose, Watkins Glen International, Victory Junction
#18-Kyle Busch, Michigan, Kyle Busch Foundation
Bristol Motor Speedway
Atlanta Motor Speedway
(Sprint Summer Showdown PR), for more info see Jayski's Contest page.(8-21-2011)
Marcos Ambrose Qualifies for Sprint Summer Showdown: With his win in Monday's Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Marcos Ambrose is qualified to be a finalist for a chance to earn a $3 million payout in the Sprint Summer Showdown. If Ambrose can also win the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day weekend, he will claim the Sprint Summer Showdown presented by HTC EVO 3D title and win $1 million for himself, $1 million for his designated charity, Victory Junction, and $1 million dollars for a lucky race fan. Later this week a fan will be randomly selected from the pool of entrants who correctly picked Ambrose to win the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen at sprint.com/speed. That lucky fan will enjoy an all-expenses paid trip to Atlanta Motor Speedway and be there in person to see whether Ambrose can win at Atlanta. If he claims the Sprint Summer Showdown presented by HTC EVO 3D, the fan will win $1 million. Fans should visit sprint.com/speed before each of the two remaining qualifying races to choose which driver they think will win that week's event. A different fan will be randomly selected after each race and will be in Atlanta for the final event of the six-consecutive-race series to cheer on their driver as he vies for the $3 million payout. Fans can change their picks until the scheduled start time for each event.
Name, Race, Designated Charity
Paul Menard, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Habitat for Humanity
Brad Keselowski, Pocono Raceway, Brad Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation
Marcos Ambrose, Watkins Glen International, Victory Junction
Michigan International Speedway
Bristol Motor Speedway
Atlanta Motor Speedway
(Sprint Summer Showdown PR), for more info see Jayski's Contest page.(8-16-2011)
Keselowski Qualifies for Sprint Summer Showdown: With his win in Sunday's Good Sam RV Insurance 500, #2-Brad Keselowski is qualified to be a finalist for a chance to earn a $3 million payout in the Sprint Summer Showdown. If Keselowski can also win the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day weekend, he will claim the Sprint Summer Showdown presented by HTC EVO 3D title and win $1 million for himself, $1 million for his designated charity, Brad Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation, and $1 million dollars for a lucky race fan. Later this week a fan will be randomly selected from the pool of entrants who correctly picked Keselowski to win the Good Sam RV Insurance 500 at sprint.com/speed. That lucky fan will enjoy an all-expenses paid trip to Atlanta Motor Speedway and be there in person to see whether Keselowski can win at Atlanta. If he claims the Sprint Summer Showdown, the fan will win $1 million.(Sprint Summer Showdown PR), for more info see Jayski's Contest page.(8-7-2011)
Menard Qualifies for Sprint Summer Showdown: With his win in Sunday's Brickyard 400, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Paul Menard is qualified to be a finalist for a chance to earn a $3 million payout in the Sprint Summer Showdown. If Menard can also win the Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day weekend, he will claim the Sprint Summer Showdown presented by HTC EVO 3D title and win $1 million for himself, $1 million for his designated charity, Habitat for Humanity, and $1 million dollars for a lucky race fan. Later this week, a fan will be randomly selected from the pool of entrants who correctly picked Menard to win the Brickyard 400 at sprint.com/speed. That lucky fan will enjoy an all-expenses paid trip to Atlanta Motor Speedway and be there in person to see whether Menard can win at Atlanta. If he claims the Sprint Summer Showdown presented by HTC EVO 3D, the fan will win $1 million. A different fan will be randomly selected after each race and will be in Atlanta for the final event of the six-consecutive-race series to cheer on their driver as he vies for the $3 million payout. Fans can change their picks until the scheduled start time for each event (Sprint), for more info see Jayski's Contest page.(8-1-2011)
Sprint using promotion to reward drivers, fans: Sprint plans to raise the stakes on this summer's NASCAR season by rolling out a six-race, $3 million promotion that will reward winning drivers and fans. The Sprint Summer Showdown, as it is being referred to in communications between executives at Sprint and tracks, will give the winning drivers of ESPN's first five Sprint Cup races the chance to square off for a winner-takes-all prize at the Sept. 4 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. If a driver who wins one of the five races - Indianapolis, Pocono, Watkins Glen, Michigan or Bristol - wins the Atlanta race, Sprint will pay the driver $1 million, the driver's charity of choice $1 million, and a fan $1 million. The promotion is the first of its kind by Sprint and rivals the $1 million it pays the winner of the Sprint All-Star Race. It is reminiscent of promotions run by NASCAR's previous title sponsor, Winston. Between 1985 and 1997, the Winston cigarette brand's parent company, R.J. Reynolds, ran the Winston Million promotion, offering $1 million to any driver who won three of the sport's four biggest races. From 1998 to 2002, it recast the promotion as the Winston No Bull 5 and offered $1 million to qualified drivers who won select races. It also gave $1 million to a fan associated with a driver through a sweepstakes. It's unclear how Sprint will incorporate fans into its promotion. A Sprint spokesperson said the company was planning an "exciting promotion" but declined to comment further. Sprint is expected to announce the promotion at New Hampshire Motor Speedway the weekend of July 17.(Sports Business Journal)(6-28-2011)
Sprint intends to continues title sponsorship: Dan Hesse, chief executive officer of Sprint Nextel, said his company is in talks with NASCAR to extend its title sponsorship of the Sprint Cup series. "Our intention is to continue the sponsorship with NASCAR," Hesse told The Star before Sunday's STP 400 at Kansas Speedway. Sprint is in the eighth year of a 10-year, $750 million sponsorship that goes through the 2013 season. Besides the title sponsorship of the series, Sprint lends its name to the Sprint All-Star Race in Charlotte, N.C., and supports NASCAR in other ways, such as delivering 15 to 20 cell phone towers to each race as well as The Sprint Experience, a mobile, interactive display at each track.(Kansas City Star)(6-6-2011)
Sprint Fan Vote Nears 2 Million Votes; Top 5 Drivers Named: With just over 24 hours remaining in the voting, Sprint announced the top five drivers in the Sprint Fan Vote, which allows fans to decide which eligible driver will compete in Saturday's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Fans have helped set a voting record this season, with more than 1.9 million votes cast since March 23. Voting remains open until 5:00pm/et Saturday, May 21. The top five drivers in alphabetical order are: #43-A.J. Allmendinger, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #47-Bobby Labonte, #20-Joey Logano and #83-Brian Vickers.
Fans can cast votes for their favorite eligible drivers by using the NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile application, visiting NASCAR.com or at the Sprint Experience, located in the midway at every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event. As an incentive for Sprint customers, every wireless vote submitted from a Sprint, Nextel, Boost Mobile or Virgin Mobile device counts double in the driver standings.
To be eligible for the Sprint Fan Vote, drivers must be approved by NASCAR for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition and have met all other eligibility requirements. Those requirements include finishing in the Top 50 of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship point standings; competing in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Event during the 2010 season; or attempting to qualify for the 2011 Daytona 500. The driver who accumulates the most votes and finishes the Sprint Showdown qualifying race on the lead lap with a car in raceable condition (as determined by NASCAR competition) will earn a spot in the prestigious NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race field. In addition to voting, fans can also use the NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile application to view the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race in its entirety on Sprint devices. To download the new NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile, which is free with any data plan, Sprint customers should text "NASCAR" to 7777. Votes may also be cast on Sprint devices by texting "VOTE" to 7777 (standard text messaging and data rates apply). Charlotte Motor Speedway is offering NASCAR fans a limited-time "Buy One, Get One Free" ticket offer for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. To take advantage of this promotion, follow the link ticketmaster.com.
UPDATE SPEED just reported during Sprint Showdown practice that the driver who wins the Sprint Fan Vote does NOT have to finish on the lead lap must the car must be in raceable condition (as determined by NASCAR competition).(5-20-2011)
Sprint unveils Miss Sprint Cup lineup: With just a few weeks remaining until the Sprint Cup Series season gets under way, Sprint unveiled its 2011 Miss Sprint Cup lineup. Returning Miss Sprint Cup representatives Paige Duke and Monica Palumbo were joined by newcomer Kim Coon. Since its inception in 2007, the Miss Sprint Cup program has gained tremendous popularity among both race fans and industry members alike. Although their most visible role is representing the Sprint brand in every Sprint Cup Series Victory Lane celebration, it's a small portion of the overall job responsibilities for the Miss Sprint Cup lineup. Coon was pulled from the world of corporate marketing to join the Miss Sprint Cup lineup. Born and raised in Orlando, Fla., Coon received her undergraduate degree from the University of Miami and a master's degree from the University of Alabama. Always on the go, she's balanced a career in marketing and PR with her role as an NFL cheerleader and a volunteer with the Susan G. Komen For the Cure campaign.(Sprint PR)(1-28-2011)
Sprint, Nationwide at-track displays attract record numbers: Track attendance may have been down in 2010, but two of NASCAR's biggest partners, Sprint and Nationwide, hardly noticed. Sprint, the title sponsor of NASCAR's top series, and Nationwide, title sponsor of its secondary series, both posted record attendance at their at-track displays. Sprint reported more than a 10 percent increase in attendance from 2009, and Nationwide captured twice as much contact information from visitors as it did a year ago. Those increases came despite International Speedway Corp. and Speedway Motorsports Inc., the two biggest track promoters, reporting declines in ticket revenue of 18% and 15.6% this year, respectively.
Sprint erected a 14,400-square-foot display in the midway area at all 37 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in 2010. The Sprint Experience, as the area was known, offered driver appearances, interactive games and giveaways for Sprint customers. More than 550,000 fans visited in 2010, bringing the total number of visitors to more than 2.5 million since 2004.(SportsBusiness Journal/Sporting News)(12-1-2010)
Sprint FanView may go away or change: The NASCAR Sprint FanView handsets may have worked their last race. The contract between Sprint, ISC, NASCAR and Kangaroo.tv to provide the handsets is up at the end of the year, and it's unclear if the parties will renew or extend it. The agreement, which was announced in 2006, allowed the parties to provide $49.99 rentals of a hand-held scanner that included video, audio and data capabilities. The deal initially was signed so that Sprint (then Nextel) could provide advanced technology to fans at the track. But as cell phone technology has developed and allowed Sprint to turn phones into scanners, there is less of a need for the FanView system, said Tim Considine, Sprint's director of sports marketing. "The fan experience with FanView may change next year," he said, "but our belief and hope is it will be around for years to come. It just may be a different device." Sprint is considering everything from exclusively providing a FanView-style experience on phones to partnering with another company that offers similar in-venue technology. There have been discussions with FanVision, the handheld company owned by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. The FanView handsets were used by only a single-digit percentage of fans attending races. Considine said that fans who bought a FanView device in the past four years will still be able to use it at tracks in 2011, but it is unlikely the device will be rented at tracks. "We hope to bring a more enhanced device and technology (to tracks)," Considine said. "It will be a better experience for fans."(SceneDaily)(11-30-2010)
2010 Sprint Fan Vote has started: The 2010 Sprint Fan Vote, which allows race fans to choose which eligible driver gets to compete in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, opened today. Voting will continue until one hour before the start of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race, Saturday, May 22, at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. Fans can cast unlimited votes for their favorite driver during the voting window. Sprint customers can vote using the NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile application on their Sprint or Nextel devices. As an added incentive for customers, every wireless vote submitted from a Sprint or Nextel device counts double towards a driver's vote total. To download the new NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile, which is free with any data plan, Sprint customers should text "NASCAR" to 7777. Sprint customers can also vote without downloading the NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile application by texting "VOTE" to 7777. (Standard text messaging and data rates apply.)
To be eligible for the Sprint Fan Vote, drivers must have finished in the top 50 of the final 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings, attempted to qualify for the 2010 Daytona 500 or competed in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event during the 2009 or 2010 season. The driver accumulating the most votes, who also finishes the Sprint Showdown qualifying race on the lead lap, will earn a spot in the prestigious All-Star field. The Sprint Fan vote winner will be announced immediately following the completion of the Sprint Showdown.
Two years ago, Kasey Kahne became the first driver to parlay his Sprint Fan Vote win into a victory in the Sprint All-Star event. Past Sprint Fan Vote winners include Ken Schrader (2004), Truex, Jr. (2005), Kyle Petty (2006), Kenny Wallace (2007), Kasey Kahne (2008 - Sprint All-Star Race Winner) and Logano (2009).
Drivers eligible for the 2010 Sprint Fan Vote: AJ Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Marcos Ambrose, John Andretti, Norm Benning, Greg Biffle, Dave Blaney, Mike Bliss, Todd Bodine, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Patrick Carpentier, Terry Cook, Derrike Cope, Erik Darnell, Carl Edwards, Bill Elliott, Jeff Fuller, David Gilliland, Robby Gordon, San Hornish Jr., Travis Kvapil, Michael McDowell, Casey Mears, Paul Menard, Juan Pablo Montoya, Joe Nemechek, Max Papis, David Ragan, Tony Raines, Robert Richardson, Scott Riggs, Elliott Sadler, Boris Said, Regan Smith, Reed Sorenson, Scott Speed, David Stremme, Martin Truex Jr., Mike Wallace and Michael Waltrip.(Sprint)(3-25-2010)
Miss Sprint Cup adds two newcomers to the fold: Sprint on Wednesday introduced the 2010 Miss Sprint Cup lineup. Returning for her third season as Miss Sprint Cup, Monica Palumbo was joined by newcomers Paige Duke and Amanda Wright in the media center at Daytona International Speedway, as the program expands to three representatives in 2010. Palumbo is a native of Charlotte, N.C. Duke and Wright hail from Lancaster, S.C., and York, Maine, respectively. The program, which began as a small part of a Sprint sweepstakes promotion in 2007, has become a valuable asset for the Sprint NASCAR sponsorship, both in terms of brand exposure and fan engagement. Highly visible personalities at every Sprint Cup Series event, the Miss Sprint Cup representatives appear throughout the weekend at the Sprint Experience mobile display, where they greet fans and interviews drivers, celebrities and other NASCAR personalities. They can also be found interacting with race-day attendees on pit-road tours, in the Sprint Cup Series garage and at driver introductions. With the rise in the program's popularity, Miss Sprint Cup now regularly receives requests from tracks, teams, charitable organizations and even other NASCAR sponsors to appear at various events. The increased time demands, both at and away from the track, spurred the decision to expand the program to include a third Miss Sprint Cup for 2010. Two of the three representatives will appear at every race, while all three will be at select events, including the Daytona 500.(NASCAR.com)(2-12-2010)
Sprint Experience Reaches 500,000 Fans in 2009: Recently, Sylvia Anderson from Garden Hill, Ontario became the 500,000th NASCAR fan to enter the Sprint Experience, an interactive fan pavilion Sprint provides at every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event. To commemorate the milestone, Anderson was treated to a once-in-a-lifetime VIP experience, courtesy of Sprint, by celebrating with the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. Not only did Anderson take part in the post-race celebration with the 2009 NSCS champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway Sunday evening, but she also presented the Chase for the Sprint Cup leader flag to Jimmie Johnson, current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader, during driver introductions for the Nov. 22 Ford 400. Anderson and her husband, Rob, enjoyed Sunday's race from an upgraded seat inside the Sprint suite.
The Sprint Experience, a 10,000-square-foot interactive pavilion, travels to every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Fans who visit the pavilion are able to drive 3-D race simulators, play games for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series-branded prizes, and view Johnson's 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion's trophy. Interactive displays allow fans to learn more about Sprint products and services, including NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile, the wireless application that delivers real-time, race-day statistics and telemetry from all 43 NSCS drivers and offers video on demand from NASCAR.com, SPEED and more. By reaching the 500,000-visitor mark, attendance at the Sprint Experience is up nearly 50% from the 2008 season.(Sprint PR)(11-25-2009)
Sad News - Tom Murphy: The employees of Sprint are deeply saddened on the death of Tom Murphy, vice president, Corporate Brand Marketing, who was killed in an automobile accident in Colorado on Friday, August 14, while on vacation with his family. Cheerful and enthusiastic, he was a highly effective marketing advocate for Sprint and a beloved member of Sprint's NASCAR team. Tom, who was 45, is survived by his wife Jennifer, 42 and sons Ethan, 11, John 8, and Thomas, 6. His son Ethan sustained minor injuries in the accident. He is also survived by a brother, and was preceded in death by his parents. Tom joined Sprint in September 1996 as director of public relations for Sprint PCS. He later became vice president of public relations for Sprint PCS, and then senior vice president - Corporate Communications. Following the merger of Sprint and Nextel, Tom was named vice president for sponsorships in Corporate Brand Marketing. He also served as chairman of the Sprint Foundation. All of those at Sprint who knew and worked with Tom express deepest sympathy and concern for his family.
NASCAR officials also released a statement lamenting the death: "First, our thoughts and prayers go out to Tom's family and friends," said the statement from [Kansas] Speedway President Jeff Boerger. "Tom's enthusiasm and spirit will be missed not only at Kansas Speedway and in the racing community but by everyone he touched. Tom was a leader in the Kansas City community and this is a devastating loss to us all."(Kansas City Star)(8-16-2009)
- Sprint to Deliver Fans Live Access to Sprint Cup Series Driver Meeting: Sprint announced exclusive access to a typically-private race weekend tradition, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver/crew chief meeting. It is the first time in NASCAR's 61-year history race fans have been invited to listen live to the top-secret pre-race meeting between NASCAR officials, drivers and crew chiefs.
This one-time opportunity will be available to fans prior to the 25th running of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race May 16. The audio broadcast will be streamed exclusively on Sprint phones via NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile for customers away from the track and on NASCAR Sprint FanView for race fans at the track. All drivers and crew chiefs attend the meeting each week. NASCAR penalizes any driver or crew chief who misses or is late to the meeting by requiring that team to start at the back of the race, regardless of qualifying position. In addition to this content, Sprint customers also will be treated to SPEED's television broadcast of NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race XXV in its entirety on Sprint wireless phones via NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile. NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile, an exclusive wireless phone application from Sprint, also will offer video highlights of the popular NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge May 14. These special All-Star related offerings are available in addition to an already robust set of features including: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series news; driver stats; in-car audio; radio broadcasts; and post-race press conferences. NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile is available with data plans at no additional charge. To download the application text NASCAR to 7777 on Sprint phones (standard rates apply) or visit www.sprint.com/speed for more information. Tickets for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on May 16 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C., start at $25 and can be obtained by calling 1-800-455-FANS or at www.lowesmotorspeedway.com.(Sprint)(5-11-2009)
- The Comcast Cup? Will Comcast buy Sprint? "As telco giants AT&T and Verizon move deeper into the TV business, cable giants like Comcast may have to get into the wireless business to compete. That could eventually involve Comcast buying Sprint Nextel, the No. 3 U.S. wireless carrier," writes Silicon Alley Insider. Comcast and Sprint are backing the Clearwire 4G wireless network, and its WiMax system. If Clearwire doesn't connect, and cash-rich Comcast decides it's easier to buy than build, "the most logical deal could be for Sprint, which currently has a $12 billion market cap," Insider says. "It's not a new idea. But it could make sense in the next few years."
Citing a report from Pali Research, the article quotes Comcast CEO Brian Roberts at the annual cable show in Washington yesterday: "Wireless is a conundrum for the cable industry... AT&T and Verizon... are the super elephants. They've got all the market share..." He "avoided a clear answer to the question as to whether Clearwire was Comcast's sole wireless strategy."(Philly.com)(4-6-2009)
- Sprint remains committed series sponsor: Sprint remains committed to sponsoring NASCAR's premier series through the duration of its contract that runs through 2013 despite tough economic conditions, director of Sprint entertainment and marketing Steve Gaffney said Wednesday. "Committed more than ever," Gaffney said. "This sport and what we get from this sport in terms of real business, subscribers and existing subscribers is demonstratively good for our business. "You mention the economic downturn, we need to focus more on areas where we think we're winning business. And this sponsorship is winning business," Gaffney said. Sprint, at the time Nextel when the deal was signed, reportedly committed $700 million over 10 years to the series.(ESPN.com)(3-26-2009)
- SK Telecom in Talks to Acquire Sprint: K Telecom, the largest provider of wireless phone service in South Korea, is in talks to acquire Sprint Nextel, the troubled U.S. wireless carrier, according to people familiar with the talks. SK Telecom, which is smaller than Sprint, would be joined in any deal by private equity firms that would contribute cash towards the purchase, sources told CNBC. A deal is not imminent and while the talks are on-going, participants caution that any agreement would at best be weeks away. The board of Sprint, which has been struggling with significant subscriber losses, is divided about whether to sell the company as some of them hold a belief that a turnaround for the company may not be far off, according to people briefed on its position. Any deal with SK Telecom would have to be friendly. The Koreans have no plans to pursue Sprint should it not wish to be acquired. The talks have not reached a crucial phase, and specific negotiation on price has yet to take place, but they have heated up in recent days.(CNBC.com), , No word on how or if this would effect the Sprint Cup sponsorship.(7-16-2008)
- Analysts say T-Mobile may acquire Sprint; T-Mobile Series? UPDATE: Sprint Nextel may be a takeover target, according to one of the nation's largest investment banking firms. Deutsche Telekom, owner of T-Mobile and the world's sixth largest phone company, may consider acquiring Overland Park-based Sprint to block a price war in the mobile phone industry, analysts for Merrill Lynch said today. The Wall Street firm said Sprint's operational problems and shaky position in the U.S. wireless industry may force the company to cut prices even further to attract customers. T-Mobile generally is considered to be the low-cost alternative among the top five U.S. mobile phone companies. Last week, Sprint introduced an unlimited voice and data wireless plan that undercut other U.S. companies. Lynch, which advises its clients to sell Sprint shares, said it is not aware of any acquisition discussions.(Kansas City Star)(3-7-2008)
UPDATE: Deutsche Telekom AG is considering a bid for Sprint Nextel Corp., according to a media report Monday.
Bonn-based Deutsche Telekom did not immediately comment on the report in The Wall Street Journal. Were it to make such a deal, it would catapult its T-Mobile wireless unit to the top spot in the U.S. market. n its report, The Wall Street Journal said deliberations were at "a preliminary stage and management may very well turn away," according to the people it quoted. Any bid, the paper's sources said, "could still be weeks, or even months away."(Yahoo Biz/AP)(5-5-2008)
- Kessel Leaving Sprint's NASCAR Account For Victory Junction Gang: Dean Kessel, Sprint's Director of NASCAR marketing for the past two-plus seasons, is leaving to become president of the Victory Junction Gang, a camp for special-needs children. With Kessel's departure effective April 4, Sprint Dir of Sports Marketing Steve Gaffney will assume an increased role in overseeing the NASCAR sponsorship. Gaffney and Kessel were previously peers at the director level. Sprint will hire a GM for its eight-person office in Huntersville, NC. The GM will report to Gaffney, who will continue to operate out of Sprint's K.C. HQs for the near future. Gaffney will continue to direct Sprint's other sports sponsorships including the NFL, Sprint Center and the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association.(Sports Business Daily)(3-6-2008)
- Sprint Woes? Sprint, the sponsor for NASCAR's premier series, recently cut 4,000 jobs and closed 125 retail outlets. The company reportedly lost 683,000 postpaid subscribers during the fourth quarter of 2007. But NASCAR chairman Brian France isn't concerned that the series will be looking for a new title sponsor after this season, saying he has talked to company officials and they have assured him of their commitment to NASCAR.(ESPN.com)(1-23-2008)
- Google Acquiring Sprint? Recent news that Sprint is not going to work with Clearwire to build out a WiMAX network only added to the rumors I (Rich Tehrani) have been hearing about Google acquiring Sprint Nextel. On the surface it seems like this would be a bad move for Google but in reality the world's leading search engine has become so much more than just a website to go to when you want to find a trinket of information. Of course one problem with a Sprint Nextel purchase is that the company's network isn't GSM-based meaning devices will have to have multiple radios to be used around the world.(tmcnet.com)(posted on many Tech site blogs, looks more like speculation and have seen no news source report this)(11-14-2007)
- Future Changes at Sprint-Nextel? A private-equity buyout group that features some prominent ex-Nextel executives considered a takeover of Sprint-Nextel last year, through the Carlyle Group. That particular deal never got anywhere, in part because of the amount of money involved, around $100 billion to buy the whole operation. But there is still a lot of curious talk about Sprint Nextel, following the recent ouster of boss Gary Forsee. What it all might mean for NASCAR's Nextel Cup soon-to-be-titled Sprint Cup series is unclear: The Carlyle Cup? Well, the Nextel Sprint merger has been rocky, to say the least. First, all the Nextel guys who put together the NASCAR deal abruptly left the company. Then just a few weeks ago Forsee got the boot, too, amid questions about the company's direction. These are big-money stakes. Still, a deal of some sort could get footing. Particularly in light of Sprint Nextel's precipitous third-quarter net-income decline, announced yesterday. And the company issues a warning about the fourth quarter too. Sprint Nextel, which is the nation's third-biggest wireless operator, reported net income of $64 million for the quarter, compared to $279 million last year. Revenues also dropped slightly to $10 billion. And noteworthy with regard to the Carlyle angle: James Hance Jr., who is Sprint Nextel's interim chairman, is a senior adviser to the Carlyle Group. Carlyle men Daniel Akerson, Bill Conway and Bill Kennard also have had ties with Nextel.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-2-2007)
- Sprint: 'Business as usual' after CEO steps down: Sprint pledged to continue business as usual in its sponsorship of the Nextel Cup (soon to be Sprint Cup) Series following the immediate resignation of Sprint Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gary Forsee. Forsee had been CEO of Sprint in 2003 and was named the leader of Sprint Nextel when their merger was complete in 2005. Chief Financial Officer Paul Saleh, who was the Nextel CFO prior to the merger, is the acting CEO. Sprint is doing an external search to find a new CEO.(SceneDaily.com)(10-9-2007)
- SK Telecom Says It Rejected Offer to Join Sprint Bid: SK Telecom Co., South Korea's largest mobile-phone operator, said it rejected a proposal for the company to participate in a bid to acquire Sprint Nextel Corp. ``We get many offers through many different channels and Sprint was one of them,'' SK Telecom Chief Financial Officer Ha Sung Min said in an earnings conference call with investors today in Seoul. ``We haven't pursued the acquisition of Sprint.'' The comments follow an Edaily report that revived speculation SK Telecom, whose market value is less than one-third of Sprint's $63.5 billion, may join a bid to buy the third- largest U.S. telephone carrier. A similar Korea Economic Daily report two weeks ago triggered gains in shares of SK Telecom in Seoul and Sprint in after-hours trading in New York.
Edaily reported today that SK Telecom is in talks to buy Sprint after being approached by financial investors, citing Cho Jung Nam, vice chairman at the Seoul-based operator. Kim Hye Jin, a spokeswoman at SK Telecom, denied the company plans to bid for Sprint. She declined to name the overseas investors that approached the Korean carrier or specify when the proposal was made. James Fisher, a spokesman for Sprint in Reston, Virginia, declined to confirm or deny the Edaily report. On July 10, the Korea Economic Daily reported SK Telecom may participate in a bid to acquire Sprint, under a proposal where the bidding group would entrust management of Sprint to SK Telecom. SK Telecom would need a 1 percent stake in Sprint to gain management control, according to the report. SK Telecom denied the report that day. SK Telecom has a venture in the U.S. with Earthlink Inc. called Helio LLC, which offers wireless services using Sprint's phone network.(Bloomberg.com)(7-26-2007)
- NASCAR's Premier Series To Be Named NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Beginning Jan. 1, 2008: Sprint Nextel and NASCAR announced NASCAR's premier series will be known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series beginning Jan. 1, 2008. The logo was unveiled in a press conference at Daytona International Speedway. Sprint and NASCAR took extensive measures to talk with race fans throughout the logo and name review process, which included numerous focus groups and surveys. After receiving fan feedback, the decision was clear to focus on the Sprint brand and use a similar logo and name.
"NASCAR has an incredibly loyal fan base, and we listened closely to fan feedback to help make this decision," said Tim Kelly, chief marketing officer of Sprint. "It was a long and thorough process to determine how to integrate our NASCAR sponsorship into our overall brand strategy, while still keeping the NASCAR fan at the heart of the decision. The process extended well beyond the NASCAR sponsorship. This is an evolutionary time for Sprint Nextel's brand. Our new brand campaign focuses on the importance of speed in people's daily lives and illustrates their ability to get information where they want it, when they want it. NASCAR was built on a tradition of speed, so it was a natural tie for us."
Sprint replaced R.J. Reynolds' Winston brand as title sponsor of NASCAR's flagship property in 2004. From the onset, Sprint Nextel has engaged the company's resources to raise the sport's profile and foster a more intimate connection between NASCAR racing and its more than 75 million loyal fans.
"Sprint is a premier brand that Americans have known for decades," said Brian France, chief executive officer of NASCAR. "The company's new brand direction is focused on speed and that has always been our business. It makes perfect sense for the Sprint name to be attached to our premier series. Sprint Nextel has shown an incredible commitment to the sport and our fans in the first few years, and we are excited about the technology enhancements they are planning for the future."
Refocusing the NASCAR sponsorship on the Sprint line of products and services coincides with the July 1 launch of "Sprint Ahead," a national campaign reflecting the value its products and services add to people's lives. Building on that concept, Sprint will focus on a key attribute it delivers for its customers: speed or "SprintSpeed."
Nextel remains a vital part of the Sprint products and services mix. As a result, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series name and logo and Nextel-branded assets will remain for 2007. However, the "Sprint Ahead" brand identity will be evident in the NASCAR community as early as July 15 when Sprint will launch The SprintSpeed" Million presented by Motorola Sweepstakes, a promotion in which one race fan is guaranteed to win $1 million.
"The best of NASCAR and the best of Sprint is inherently speed. We feel like we are bringing that key attribute together in many forms to enhance the lives of race fans, either at the track or at home," said Tom Murphy, vice president of experiential marketing for Sprint. "From The SprintSpeed" Million, which will literally bring 12 lucky finalists as close as you can get to the sport, to our wireless products and services that have enhanced the experience of race fans and industry partners, Sprint remains steadfast in its commitment to improve the sport through technology and by bringing the fans closer to NASCAR."
Products such as FanView and interactive displays such as Sprint's 10,000-square-foot at-track mobile-marketing display have exponentially enhanced fans' at-track experiences. Further, significant investments in the series points fund and All-Star race have raised the level of competition among the drivers and teams. Sprint also has been an advocate of many NASCAR-related charities including support of the NASCAR Foundation and a significant commitment to the Victory Junction Gang Camp.
"It is our mission to ensure a name change will not alter the way fans view the sport or the way we support it," said Murphy. "This is a thrilling sport with deep historical roots, and we will continue to honor that past and help the sport be even better in the future."(NASCAR PR)(7-7-2007)
- Name & Logo Quick Facts
" The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series will be known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2008.
" The determination of the new logo and name was made after months of extensive research by Sprint and NASCAR. The research included fan focus groups and surveys.
" Sprint and NASCAR announced the new name and unveiled the logo July 7, 2007 at Daytona International Speedway.
" The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series name and logo will be used beginning Jan. 1, 2008. The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series name and logo will be remain in use until Dec. 31, 2007.
" The timing of the announcement coincided with Sprint's new national brand campaign, "Sprint Ahead," which focuses on Sprint's ability to do business with SprintSpeed". The corporate-wide campaign launched July 1, 2007.
The SprintSpeed Million presented by Motorola Sweepstakes
" One driver wins the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Championship, and one fan wins $1 million - guaranteed.
" Detailed information about The SprintSpeed" Million will be released Saturday, July 14. The sweepstakes opens to the public Sunday, July 15.
" Entries will be accepted from July 15 - Sept. 3. Entrants will select the driver they think will win the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Championship.
" Once the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers are set, a drawing will be held to select 12 finalists. Twelve finalists will be paired with the 12 Chase drivers and will each receive a call from their selected driver in addition to a trip to a Chase race for an ultimate behind-the-scenes experience and a meeting with their selected driver.
" The fan paired with the driver who wins the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Championship, wins $1 million. The check will be presented in Victory Lane at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 18, 2007.
" This marks the sixth name for NASCAR's top division since its inception.
" NASCAR's premier division began in 1948 under the name Strictly stock
" The name changed to NASCAR Grand National in 1950.
" The name changed to Winston Cup Grand National in 1972.
" The name changed to NASCAR Winston Cup Series in 1986.
" The name changed to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in 2004.
- Sprint Cup in 2008? UPDATE 2 announced at Daytona?: Sprint Nextel confirmed Sunday that it is mulling over the possibility of changing the name of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series in 2008. "As we have stated before, Sprint Nextel is actively researching the best action regarding the name of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series," said a Sprint Nextel public relations representative Sunday. "The name will remain NASCAR Nextel Cup Series for the duration of the 2007. Our hope is to have more information by late summer regarding our plans for changing or not changing the name in 2008." NASCAR officials had no comment on the possibility of a name change for its top series..(SpeedTV.com)(3-11-2007)
UPDATE: Beginning with the 2008 season, Sprint will replace Nextel as title sponsor of NASCAR's premiere racing series, multiple high-ranking industry sources told ESPN.com on condition of anonymity. The series will be known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, sources said. NASCAR declined comment. Dean Kessel, Sprint's NASCAR marketing director, denied the claims, and said Sprint/Nextel is still sorting the proposition out with NASCAR. Kessel also said that multiple outstanding details must be finalized internally before a decision can be made either way. This would mark the third name since 2003 for NASCAR's Cup Series. From 1972-2003, the Cup Series was sponsored by R.J. Reynolds tobacco through its Winston cigarette brand. Then, starting in 2004, Nextel assumed the naming rights to the most popular racing series in the United States. Sprint and Nextel agreed to a $36 billion merger in December 2004.(ESPN.com)(6-20-2007)
UPDATE A new name for the Nextel Cup Series will likely be announced at a news conference Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.(Thatsracin)(7-5-2007)
- Sprint's new ad campaign lacks Nextel: Something is missing in a new advertising campaign being rolled out to U.S. consumers by wireless communications provider Sprint -- Nextel. After what observers called a disastrous marketing campaign following its 2005 merger with Nextel, executives are trying to reinvent the Reston, Va., company's image with the new tagline -- "Sprint ahead" -- that omits Nextel, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. Sprint also eased Nextel from sponsorship of the main NASCAR racing series. Starting next year, the Nextel Cup becomes the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Television commercials, online ads, billboards and movie theater ads will debut Sunday. Besides trying to improve its network's reputation, Sprint is trying to hold off competition from AT&T and Verizon Wireless -- which benefited from Sprint's loss of customers, in part because of Nextel's network problems.(UPI)
AND: Sprint will continue to use the Nextel name this year to sponsor Nascar's top auto races in the Nextel Cup Series. The company is evaluating its plans for the sponsorship in 2008 and will probably make a decision in the next few weeks, Sprint Chief Marketing Officer Tim Kelly.(Bloomberg.com)(6-29-2007)
- NASCAR comments on 'Sprint Cup' in 2008 report: NASCAR will neither confirm nor deny that its Nextel Cup Series will carry the name Sprint beginning in 2008. "To my knowledge, no final decision has been made," said Ramsey Poston, NASCAR's managing director of corporate communications, refuting an ESPN.com report that the name change was imminent [reported for the 2008 season, no sooner]. But Poston added, "if that's the direction they want to go, we (NASCAR) would be supportive of that." Nextel officials were flying to California Wednesday afternoon, in preparation for Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, and not available for comment. However, USA TODAY learned that the topic of changing the NASCAR series name did not come up at Wednesday's corporate communications meeting. Changing the name would require substantial lead time and expense on the part of Sprint/Nextel, given the amount of signage and participating sponsorships involved. Poston noted that this issue of rebranding differs substantially in NASCAR's eyes from the ongoing battle between AT&T/Cingular and Sprint/Nextel which prompted the filing of a $100 million countersuit by NASCAR this week. "They are different agreements," Poston said. "The contract between Nextel and NASCAR had written into it that they could rebrand one time. The agreements between Cingular (and alltel with NASCAR) did not. We went to bat for them to keep them in the sport with a grandfather clause."(USA Today)(6-21-2007)
- Millsport Hires former Nextel Marketing Manager Mike Mooney: Millsport, the sponsorship consulting and activation division of The Marketing Arm, today announced that Mike Mooney has joined its motorsports practice as vice president, account director. Mooney will be responsible for client strategic direction and activation development, as well as building a communications capability for Millsport Motorsports. Prior to Millsport, Mooney was the director of marketing communications for Sprint Nextel. In that role, he developed the marketing communications platform to support the launch of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series sponsorship as well as its numerous sponsor partnership, industry and NASCAR-specific product roll-out initiatives. Mooney will be based out of Millsport's offices here [Concord NC]. Millsport serves as the motorsports agency for companies including Elizabeth Arden, Sunoco, Tylenol and XM Satellite Radio.(Millsport/The Marketing Arm PR)(12-18-2006)
- Nextel's Donahue to retire: Sprint Nextel announced that executive chairman Tim Donahue will retire at the end of the year. Donahue played a key role in Nextel becoming the series sponsor.(Roanoke Times)(10-12-2006)
- Sprint Cup Series? Not in 2007: There will be no Sprint Cup Series in 2007. As early as June 2005, there were reports that the Nextel Cup Series would go through a name change effective next season. But a Sprint official insisted Sept. 9 that no decision has been made to change the name, and there definitely will be no change for 2007. "When you're talking about the magnitude of a change in terms of a series name change, we take that extremely seriously," said Mary Nell Westbrook, Sprint's sponsorship communications director. "We absolutely want to do our due diligence to do it right. ... We want it to take as long as it takes to do it right." That could mean a name change in 2008. "It is possible for 2008," Westbrook said. "But we haven't decided yet. It's possible it will stay the same too." Nextel and Sprint merged in 2005, in the second year of a 10-year deal Nextel had made to sponsor NASCAR's premier series. The contract allows one name change to the series over the 10 years. (SceneDaily.com)(9-10-2006)
- Bank of America Cup? UPDATE - No: When word of the shake-up [Nextel personnel] first broke in April, Sprint executives insisted they were committed to continuing the NASCAR sponsorship, despite reports otherwise that the new powers were less than interested in NASCAR. Now, according to sources familiar with the situation, there are reports that Bank of America executives are interested in acquiring the title sponsorship to the Cup series.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-26-2006)
UPDATE - No: from a Transcript - NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France: Q) Along with the potential name change with the merger, the rumors continue to pop up about the possible change of the sponsor. Has there been any discussions at all about Nextel/Sprint getting another company to buy out the contract?
BRIAN FRANCE: None whatsoever. They have got one of the great positions, the greatest position perhaps, in sports. They are obviously going through a change post their merger trying to get their company in a place that takes the most advantage with NASCAR. But they are focused on how to build around the sponsorship that Nextel brought into the merger. So none whatsoever.(NASCAR)(6-30-2006)
- Nextel Announcement soon? UPDATE 3 personnel changes: hearing the Nextel/Sprint name change for 2007 could be announced any day now, The Nextel Cup Series could be known as the Sprint Cup Series.(6-15-2006)
UPDATE: Word is that Sprint will, within a week or so, acknowledge a change in the name of NASCAR's top series for 2007, mandating Sprint Cup or Sprint/Nextel Cup. Sprint acquired the assets of its walkie-talkie rival last year and promised an eventual name change in order to make use of Nextel's top sports marketing property.(Speed Channel)(6-17-2006)
UPDATE 2: Sprint/Nextel is expected to make some sort of announcement next week at Daytona about its future plans for the name of the Cup series. Nextel probably will remain part of the title. The Nextel name isn't leaving the merged company, so why would the executives want to eliminate it from its NASCAR sponsorship? However, some type of name change is coming. The question is when. It would take a huge amount of work to change all NASCAR and track logos in time for the 2007 season.(Dallas Morning News)(6-23-2006)
UPDATE 3 - personnel changes: Sprint Nextel's NASCAR Marketing Manager Mike Mooney has had his job eliminated by the telecommunications company in a round of job cuts. Mooney, along with Jill Gregory and Michael Robichaud, were the three most visible executives in Nextel's NASCAR program when it began prior to the 2004 season. But with Gregory and Robichaud already gone and Mooney leaving as of next Friday, the key strategists behind Nextel's initial foray into NASCAR are all gone.(Speed Channel)(6-25-2006)
- Changes with Nextel/Sprint? UPDATE: A major shakeup appears under way in the Sprint-Nextel sports department with two top players leaving, and that has the NASCAR garage abuzz with questions about the company's future in NASCAR stock-car racing. Jill Gregory, the director of NASCAR Nextel Series marketing since 2004, is leaving to join Bank of America's new NASCAR marketing operation. And Michael Robichaud, vice-president of sports marketing for Sprint-Nextel, and formerly Nextel's director of sports and entertainment marketing, is also leaving, though his next job is up in the air. And there is intense speculation here that Sprint-Nextel's chairman, Tim Donahue, who made the original deal with NASCAR before last year's merger, may be leaving, too. All that increases speculation that officials on the Sprint side of the company are taking control from all the key Nextel people. Sources here say that might not be good for NASCAR, because they say Sprint executives generally aren't fond of NASCAR and might try to unload the $70 million a year, 10-year sponsorship, perhaps by selling it to another company.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-3-2006)
UPDATE: Sprint Nextel officials Tuesday reiterated the company's commitment to NASCAR despite the recent merger of the two companies and the pending departure of two marketing executives who handled Sprint Nextel's management of its Nextel Cup sponsorship. Mark Schweitzer, the chief marketing officer from Sprint Nextel, said the company has no plans to back away from its 10-year deal (reportedly $75 million per year) that began in 2004 to sponsor the Nextel Cup Series. Schweitzer said there are not many outs in the contract and added that the sponsorship cannot be transferred and it cannot be sold. Sprint Nextel also has contracts with the tracks and is also committed to spend an undisclosed amount of advertising in conjunction with the sponsorship. Sprint and Nextel completed their merger in 2005, and the series name is expected to change. Schweitzer said original plans called for a decision on whether to make a name change by last February, but that decision has been delayed until "the middle of this year. We want to make sure that, if we were to make a change, it isn't detrimental to the equity that we've built up, particularly in support of our Nextel product," Schweitzer said. Schweitzer was speaking an attempt to dispel questions about the company's commitment to the sport with the pending departure of Michael Robichaud, vice president for sports marketing and Nextel Cup program marketing manager Jill Gregory.
Gregory is going to Bank of America to help activate its NASCAR sponsorships, while Robichaud plans to pursue other opportunities.(SceneDaily.com)(4-4-2006)
- The Sprint Cup? UPDATE: Looks like the NEXTEL Cup Series will be no more in 2007. Get ready for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as the Sprint-NEXTEL merger gets finalized and the company's new name becomes attached to the NASCAR deal.(RacingOne)(6-13-2005)
UPDATE: Sprint and Nextel Communications announced details surrounding the brand strategy and logo to be used upon completion of the companies' merger, expected in the third quarter of 2005, pending shareholder and regulatory approvals. The new go-to-market brand name of the combined Sprint Nextel will be Sprint, with the Nextel name continuing as a key product brand. Given its broad market awareness and its history of innovation, the Sprint name was chosen as the lead go-to-market brand name for the new company.
Blending elements of Sprint's signature "pin drop" - representing clarity - and Nextel's bold yellow and black colors - which command attention - the new logo is a powerful symbol for the new Sprint as a forward-moving, energetic and dynamic brand. Additionally, in advertising, the new Sprint visual treatment will include the line, "Together with Nextel," as a reminder of the equity of these two strong brands coming together as one.
The new company will be committed to its partnership with NASCAR and its more than 75 million fans. The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series will maintain its current series branding through 2006, and decisions regarding the series name and branding beyond that season are expected to be made prior to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season opener in 2006. Sprint Nextel Corporation will serve as the corporate name of the combined company once the merger is approved.(Sprint)(6-23-2005)
- Nextel Invites Employees at RJR to attend the All-Star Event: To honor the rich tradition and esteemed contribution that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company provided to the NASCAR community for 33 years, Nextel gave employees of R.J. Reynolds 1,500 tickets to attend the upcoming NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge under the lights at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The premier all-star event will take place Saturday, May 21 at 7:30pm/et.(Nextel PR)(4-28-2005)
- No Decision for new series name in 2006: It may have taken more than a year, but most NASCAR race fans have gotten used to the name change that took place at the beginning of 2004 when Nextel took over as the NASCAR Cup Series' primary sponsor. But, don't start getting too used to the Nextel Cup logo because thanks to the impending merger of Nextel and Sprint, next season race fans will have to try to remember a brand new sponsorship name and logo. Corporate leaders from Nextel and Sprint are currently sitting behind closed doors trying to decide - among other things - what to call NASCAR's premier touring division in 2006. As a result of the merger, which is expected to be concluded toward the end of 2005, the new combined company will inherit the remaining eight years as the primary sponsor of NASCAR's Cup division. Nextel Director of Corporate Communications Mike Mooney said Thursday the merger won't have anything but a positive effect on NASCAR Nextel Cup racing, except for causing fans to have to get used to a new sponsorship name for the second time in three years. "The Sprint folks are very supportive and enthusiastic of the NASCAR program, and in fact Sprint was a primary sponsor of Petty Enterprises for a number of years, so they understand the value of NASCAR," Mooney said. "Right now there are a lot of people doing brand studies on the name, but there hasn't been anything formally announced. There won't be any new name for the series in 2005, but I would imagine the new name in 2006 will reflect where the new company is heading".(Kingsport Times-News)(4-1-2005)
- Nextel Cup until 2006: Nextel Chief Operating Officer Tom Kelly said his company's pending merger with Sprint could be finalized as early as July. If the deal doesn't close before September, Kelly said the Nextel Cup Series wouldn't face any potential name changes until after 2006. Kelly said the popular Nextel Experience at-track exhibit will be expanded in 2005 along with more national promotions, and Nextel also will focus heavily on promoting its all-star race in Charlotte, NC, working with the city to make it a "multiday event." The '06 schedule hasn't been decided, but Kelly said there have been no discussions about moving the all-star race to Richmond International Raceway, which is about 100 miles from Nextel headquarters in Reston, VA.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(2-19-2005)
- Nextel Cup named may stay: The merger of Nextel and Sprint will produce a company called Sprint-Nextel, but that doesn't necessarily mean the name of the Nextel Cup series will change. "No decision on that will be made probably until the August time frame,'' Mark Schweitzer, senior vice president of Nextel, said Thursday. "We're going to be careful and cautious about that. We spent a lot of money building it out in the first year. The industry and fans have embraced it. So we'll study that decision carefully. The Nextel brand assets are a really important part of the merger.'' The $35 billion merger was announced in December and still has to receive approval through the regulatory process. That could take several more months. Schweitzer said decisions haven't been made on whether any Nextel and Sprint products and services will retain their current identities or receive a combination name. He pointed out that after the Exxon and Mobil oil companies merged, they kept separate brand identities for their service stations. "We're in that process of evaluating the brand equities of the two companies, and we're being open-minded and letting the research and the discussions manage the process vs. going in with an agenda.'' Schweitzer said the new company will remain committed to NASCAR and that spending on marketing should increase. "They [Sprint] spend three times what Nextel spends in advertising, so in helping build the awareness of the sport - the sponsorship certainly, but the sport more generally - that should translate into more positive investment.'' If the sponsorship name does change for 2006, it would be the second change in three years. Nextel Cup replaced Winston Cup at the start of the 2004 season.(Tampa Tribune)(2-12-2005)
- Nextel NASCAR Strategy for 2005: Nextel Communications unveiled its strategy to support the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, with the wireless communications giant entering its second as sponsor. Nextel will launch three TV spots, via TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York, which support the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series sponsorship and "demonstrate how Nextel products and technology help fans, businesses and teams get things done," per the company. The spots feature a NASCAR family, NASCAR vendors and a NASCAR team. Nextel also produced an overall sponsorship spot to spotlight top on-track moments of its inaugural season. Nextel said it also will introduce a state-of-the-art NASCAR Nextel Cup Series "2-Way Communication Headset," which will be available for purchase for the first time at the 2005 Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach on Feb. 20, when the season officially opens. The yellow NASCAR Nextel Cup Series branded headset features two input jacks, allowing race fans to plug in their radio scanner and mobile phone concurrently. This two-way headset has a built-in noise-canceling microphone that allows fans to talk, on any cell phone, to family and friends from the grandstands of a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series event.
In addition, NASCAR fans will have the opportunity to use their Nextel handsets or visit Nextel retail locations to register for a multiple national sweepstakes that will run throughout the course of the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season. The first sweeps will launch in April in support of the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge. Race fans will be able to vote an eligible driver into the marquee event. More details about each sweepstakes will be released prior to the start of the activity. Nextel also will create a sweepstakes to support the last 10 races of the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup.(Brandweek.com)(2-11-2005)
- NASCAR has final say in Cup name: NASCAR has a right to approve any name change for its top series that might result from a merger between Nextel and Sprint, and the 10-year deal Nextel signed also limits the number of times such a change could happen, a senior Nextel official said Tuesday. Mark Schweitzer, senior vice president of marketing for Nextel and one of the architects of the deal that changed the name of the top series to Nextel Cup, said "veto" would be "too strong of a word" to describe NASCAR's ability to stop another change. "There have to be reasonable reasons for us to request a change and the same for them not to agree," Schweitzer said. "But it would be hard for me to imagine a circumstance where we could not all get comfortable." Schweitzer reiterated that nothing will change for 2005. Approval of the "merger of equals" between Nextel and Sprint is expected to take several months, and until that process is complete, he said, no discussions about marketing and branding decisions will be held. "While the deal anticipated that the name might need to change, there is a restriction on the number of times and on NASCAR's flexibility in doing so," Schweitzer said. "As we look at what the right thing to do for 2006 and beyond, it will come after research with the fans and in the garage."(ThatsRacin.com)(12-22-2004)
NEXTEL talks about first Year
- NASCAR and Nextel - Nextel talks about first year: The first year of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series built the foundation for a powerful partnership between one of the nation's largest telecommunications companies and NASCAR, the sanctioning body of racing's premier series. While paying tribute to the sport's history, Nextel launched a strategic marketing and public relations plan, which resulted in increased awareness and acceptance of Nextel Communications Inc. within the NASCAR industry and among its fans. More than 90 percent of avid fans are now aware of Nextel as the title sponsor. This was accomplished through at-track branding, national promotions, advertising campaigns and proactive media relations, which resulted in a conservative return of $100 million of earned media value.
"Entering into our partnership with NASCAR was one of the best decisions we ever made," said Tim Donahue, president and chief executive officer of Nextel. "We are grateful to the NASCAR community and the fans for their acceptance. The Nextel team has worked tirelessly to earn the trust of the people who not only run the sport, but more importantly, support the sport."
As a result of Nextel's integrated business marketing plan, the company increased its customer base of NASCAR fans. These customers have proven to be extremely valuable to the company, bringing in average revenues 20 percent higher than the average Nextel subscriber. Nextel also has seen a 400 percent increase in its customer base within the NASCAR industry - including teams, tracks and other related vendors.
Nextel's efforts to enhance the fan experience have extended far beyond traditional marketing tactics. To improve wireless phone service at the track, the company increased the capacity of the Nextel at-track wireless network through NASCOWS, portable "cell on wheels" towers that traveled to every NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event. The four NASCOWs are the combined equivalent to 15 traditional cell sites. This improved service resulted in more than 500,000 customers using their Nextel phones at-track a total of 50 million times, through cellular calls, Nextel Direct Connect (R), the instant, nationwide push to talk walkie-service, and wireless data uses.
"We've found that the NASCAR fan is a very high-value customer," Donahue continued. "The NASCAR fan who is a Nextel customer uses 300 more minutes for calls and 150 more minutes for Direct Connect on a monthly basis in comparison to our traditional customer. Our goal is for Nextel to be the provider of choice when people make a move among wireless phone carriers."
One example of Nextel's technology development of NASCAR-based products and applications is Nextel FanScan. This service provides access to in-car audio of drivers and teams talking during the race, which allows fans at home to be a part of the at-track action. The subscription-based application, which is available on the i736 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and driver phones, sold out more than four times since its introduction this summer, causing Nextel to increase its capacity at several races.
In July, Nextel launched a national consumer sweepstakes. Fans selected the driver they thought would win the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Championship. Of the more than 370,000 entries, 40,000 of which were entered through their Nextel phones, 10 first place finalists representing each of the 10 qualifying drivers were selected at random. Each finalist enjoyed an incredible fan weekend, complete with airline tickets for the finalist and three friends, accommodations in a luxury motorcoach, a meet and greet with his/her selected driver and VIP tours. Patrick Beall, from Sweetwater, Texas, was the finalist aligned with Kurt Busch, the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Championship, who received a grand prize of $250,000.
NASCAR has been integrated into all facets of Nextel's business, including employee relations, community relations and public affairs. The more than 18,000 employees of Nextel have embraced the value of the sponsorship, and worked to integrate corporate-wide community initiatives trackside. Programs such as DONATE A PHONE(R) encouraged fans to bring their used cell phones to the track to recycle and donate the proceeds to the American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services. Nextel also assisted the Department of Homeland Security by educating NASCAR fans about the importance of personal preparedness through the America Prepared program. Both of these initiatives were executed at-track inside The Nextel Experience, Nextel's 6,400-square-foot interactive fan destination that traveled to all 36 races in 2004. The Nextel Experience attracted more than 400,000 visitors during the year and more than 100,000 fans tried Nextel's Direct Connect(TM) service.
In addition, Nextel donated $1 million to the Victory Junction Gang, a sleep-away camp for children with chronic and terminal illnesses. Nextel continues to develop programs to further assist the camp. In October and November of 2004, a portion of the proceeds from sales of NASCAR-themed accessories was donated to Victory Junction Gang resulting in an additional gift of $100,000. In 2005, Nextel will continue to look for ways to enhance the sport and the fan experience through its technology, bringing fans closer to the sport.(Nextel PR)(12-22-2004)
The NEXTEL-SPRINT MERGER
- Nextel Statement Regarding Merger of Equals Announcement With Sprint NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Focus:
Sprint and Nextel announced Wednesday a merger of equals between the two wireless telecommunications companies. Together, Sprint Nextel will be a larger, stronger company with more resources, which will be better positioned to transform our vision of a wireless future into a reality.
There are obvious questions as to the impact this could have on Nextel's NASCAR sponsorship. Nextel stands by its belief that the
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series is one of the best brand and sponsorship investments Nextel has ever made. Nextel has invested significant resources throughout 2004 to find ways to enhance the sport and provide a more dynamic fan experience. Nextel expects no rebranding of logos or signage in 2005 and will continue to honor that commitment as Series sponsor and the programs initiated in 2004 will only continue to evolve.
Nextel expects their relationship with NASCAR to continue and to prosper and the new Sprint Nextel team is enthusiastic about the NASCAR relationship. Both groups are focused on building on the success of the Nextel Cup's first year.
The merger is expected to close in the second half of 2005 and is subject to approval by the shareholders of both companies, approval by various federal and state regulatory agencies, possible foreign governmental approvals and other customary closing conditions.(Nextel PR)(12-17-2004)
- Statement by Brian France Regarding Sprint Nextel Merger: "NASCAR is excited about the merger opportunity for its friends at Nextel. Nextel's leadership has built an outstanding company and successfully served its millions of customers. Once the merger is completed, the company will have greater resources in technology, services, and the ability to reach its customers. All of this will benefit the NASCAR relationship and will provide NASCAR the opportunity to reach new fans nationwide. NASCAR's premier national series will continue to be known as NASCAR NEXTEL Cup in 2005 and will build on the outstanding success of the 2004 season. NASCAR's 10 year agreement remains in place and all of NASCAR is looking forward to great success in the years to come."(NASCAR PR)(12-16-2004)
- So..... instead of the "Chase for the Nextel Cup" how about the "Sprint for the Nextel Cup"?
- Nextel and to Sprint Merge: Sprint and Nextel Communications agreed Wednesday to a merger that will create the third largest U.S. wireless company. The stock-cash deal has an estimated value of more than $35 billion, depending on the value of Sprint stock when the deal closes in the second half 2005. Nextel shareholders will receive 1.3 Sprint shares and about 50 cents in cash for each Nextel share. Significant layoffs are expected. Upon completion the merged entity will have more than 35 million wireless subscribers, while Verizon Wireless has 42.1 million customers and Cingular Wireless, the market leader, has 47 million subscribers.
The companies, which have yet to announce a formal name for the combination, will spinoff local phone operations, largely seen as cash businesses with little prospect for growth. Each company's boards will hold six seats on the new entity's board, and Sprint chief executive Gary Forsee will take the same job with the merged company. Nextel chief executive Timothy Donahue become chairman of the new company. Executive offices will be in Reston, Va., while operational headquarters will be in Overland Park, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City. The new company will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.(Big News Network)
NO WORD on how this will effect the Nextel Cup or it's name.(12-15-2004)
- With Sprint Nextel merger, Nextel Cup name could change after 2005...some of the Transcipt:
A Sprint and Nextel merger announced Wednesday morning won't change the name of NASCAR's Nextel Cup in 2005, but Gary D. Forsee, the president and CEO of the new company said Sprint Nextel would "work with the appropriate branding for that in the future." Sprint and Nextel, the No. 3 and No. 5 U.S. wireless telephone companies, made the announcement to merge their Overland Park, Kan.- and Reston, Va.-based businesses at a New York news conference led by Forsee, Sprint's chairman and CEO and Timothy M. Donahue, Nextel's chairman and CEO, who will become chairman of Sprint Nextel. The two companies, along with their affiliates and partners, operate networks that directly cover nearly 262 million people, more of the U.S. population than any other carrier.
When asked about the new company's involvement with NASCAR, Forsee and Donahue deferred to Tom Kelly, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Nextel, who will become Sprint Nextel's chief strategy officer. Kelly said he had spoken with NASCAR, and the sanctioning body was very excited "not only for a great sponsorship relationship, but also continuing to build this sport." An excerpt of the transcript from the news conference with complete answers from Forsee, Donahue and Kelly follows:
Michael Bowen, Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co.: "Assuming that this closes in the second half of 2005, then how quickly will you move to integrate the Nextel Cup with the Sprint initiatives as well. Will we see immediate driver phones as well for Sprint customers on both networks and things like that?"
Gary D. Forsee, president and CEO of Sprint Nextel: "(That's) something that I'm particularly excited about, and as we've talked about the great relationships that we have within the two companies, certainly one that stands out is the NASCAR relationship. And I look forward to getting to know that team and some of that's going to be an important part of that. So certainly you can expect in 2005 - because we're in flight already with the planning for that - that it would be the Nextel Cup in 2005. And we'll certainly work with the appropriate branding for that in the future. Tim, I don't know if you want to comment further on that, but that's an exciting opportunity for us as a new company."
Timothy M. Donahue, chairman of Sprint Nextel: "Yeah, well, Tom Kelly was the architect - God bless him - of the Nextel NASCAR relationship, and he's probably more qualified than any of us to answer that question."
Tom Kelly, chief strategy officer of Sprint Nextel: "The only thing to really say about this is the NASCAR relationship has been a very exciting relationship for Nextel, probably the most or the best investment we have made in marketing since we have been in the business. It also expands the opportunity beyond the small to medium business category to all of the consumer category. For many of you who have talked to us before, you know that there are 75 million NASCAR fans out there, 40 million of which are avid. That is a mix of business and consumer. When you add the two of these together with the branding that we've done and the opportunities for the combined companies together, this opportunity is going to be probably one of the best marketing tools that we will have to continue to penetrate the marketplace we want with higher ARPU (average revenue per unit), more loyal and, frankly, more application-rich and open customers in the future. So I think it's going to be a fantastic time.
"I have spoken with the NASCAR family, the Frances (and) all the folks associated with this. They're very excited about it. They see it as a great opportunity, not only for a great sponsorship relationship, but also continuing to build this sport. And I think they are just as excited, in fact, I know they are as we are about this opportunity."(transcipt from FoxSports.com, thanks Stu)(12-15-2004)
- Nextel and Sprint to merge? AND: Reports of merger talks between Sprint Corp. and Nextel Communications Inc. sent both companies' shares higher for a second straight session Friday.(Wire Reports), since it is juts rumors and reports and nothing official, no idea how or if it will effect Nextel's involvement with NASCAR or if the Nextel Cup Series would change it's name.(12-10-2004)
AND A Wall Street Journal report Friday afternoon citing sources on both sides indicated No. 3 Sprint Corp. and No. 5 Nextel Communications Inc. had reached a tentative agreement on an all-stock $36 billion deal. According to the report, Sprint would pay around 1.3 shares for each Nextel share plus a small cash consideration that would value the deal at more than $36 billion. Sprint Chief Executive Officer Gary Forsee would become CEO of the new operation with current Nextel CEO Tim Donahue assuming the chairman position. Both companies would also share board positions. Analysts noted that Nextel, which is the last remaining independent nationwide wireless operator, would have the most to gain from the deal and would thus likely have to cede final ownership to Sprint for a deal to be completed. Neither Sprint nor Nextel would comment on the report, though reports indicated that the deal could be announced as early as next week. One source noted rumors of the deal could have been a test balloon sent up by both companies to gauge investor reaction or a move by Nextel to place pressure on other industry players to begin merger talks. Sprint's stock was up more than 8 percent Thursday following the report, while Nextel's stock increased more than 6 percent.(RCRNews.com)
AND from Speed Channel - Reports in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and elsewhere Friday say wireless giants Sprint and Nextel have agreed to merge, with Sprint acquiring final ownership in a transaction valued at $36b. What effects this will have, if any, on Nextel's sponsorship of NASCAR's top series are not yet known. The reports say Sprint would pay 1.3 shares for each Nextel share, plus a small amount of cash. Sprint ceo Gary Forsee would become ceo of the new company, with Nextel ceo Tim Donahue becoming chairman. The deal is expected to be announced early next week. NASCAR officials could not be reached late Friday. Nextel and NASCAR reached an agreement in June 2003 under which Nextel would become sponsor of the Nextel Cup (formerly Winston Cup) series for 10 years. That arrangement, valued at a reported $700m, went into force this year, with Nextel spending extensively for presence and activation. Sprint has been active in the past in NASCAR, on a much smaller scale, notably as car sponsor with the Pettys.(Speed Channel)(12-11-2004)
AND II: Members of Sprint Corp.'s board of directors are scheduled to gather here beginning Sunday amid reports that the Overland Park, Kan.-based telecommunications company is near a merger with Nextel Communications. The possible merger between the companies - the country's third- and fifth-largest wireless carriers, respectively - raced through financial markets Friday. While neither company would confirm that a deal is in the works, industry observers, consumer advocates and investors took the speculation seriously. How such a merger would affect Nextel's sponsorship of NASCAR's Nextel Cup Series remained unclear late Saturday. "We don't comment on possible mergers or other speculation," said Nextel spokesman Mike Mooney, who works with motorsports media that cover NASCAR. In 2003, Nextel signed a 10-year deal to sponsor NASCAR's top series for reported $700 million. According to a report in the Washington Business Journal, in its first year as the Cup series sponsor, Nextel has already sold 40,000 NASCAR-branded phones, and other Nextel phone sales attributable to the sponsorship were listed in the "hundreds of thousands."(more at the Kansas City Star)(12-12-2004)
- Nextel Exec's at the Track: Nextel CEO Tim Donahue and Chief Operating Officer Tom Kelly sat at the head of yesterday's drivers meeting at NHIS, and Donahue saluted Cup stars for helping the cellular phone giant in a "wonderful inaugural year" as title sponsor of NASCAR's top series. "The company is absolutely thrilled to be a part of the sport," Donahue said. "It's helped us lift our brand and sell telephones. You're a great group of people to work with. It's the smartest damn thing I've ever done since I've sat in the chair."(Richmond Times Dispatch)(9-20-2004)
- Nextel Cup Trophy Unveiled: NASCAR and Nextel Communications Inc. today unveiled the highly anticipated NASCAR Nextel Cup Trophy, a 27-pound trophy crafted in sterling silver, by world-renowned jeweler and silversmith Tiffany & Co. The inaugural NASCAR Nextel Cup Trophy will be awarded to the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champion at the sport's annual awards ceremony on December 3 at The Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. The trophy, which is up for grabs among the 10 drivers competing in the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup, will be put on display at each of the final 10 races of the 2004 season. Bruce Newman, an accomplished businessman, financial manager and design director, designed the new trophy. In conjunction with NASCAR, Newman began designing the trophy in 2003. Featuring flowing checkered flags, rendered entirely in sterling silver, the NASCAR Nextel Cup Trophy will sit on top a perpetual base listing the names of every NASCAR NextelCup Series Champion since 1948. Using age-old techniques - spinning, etching, silversmithing and polishing - Tiffany's master artisans spent nearly four months crafting the Nextel Cup Trophy at the company's silver shop in Parsippany, N.J. The checkered pattern alone required approximately 80 hours of etching. In addition to the Nextel Cup Trophy, Tiffany & Co. crafts the National Football League's Vince Lombardi Super Bowl Trophy, the National Basketball Association's Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy, the World Series Trophy for Major League Baseball, and the U.S. Open Tennis Championship Trophies.
The NASCAR Nextel Cup Trophy Fast Facts
Height: 24 inches
Weight: 27 pounds
Materials: Sterling silver and wood (base)
Created by: Tiffany & Co.
Designed by: Bruce Newman
Production time: Four months
(quotes and images at RacingOne.com)(9-16-2004)
- Nextel Announces Donation to Victory Junction: Nextel Communications Inc. announced plans today to donate a portion of the proceeds from the sales of Nextel Cup merchandise and phone accessories to the Victory Junction Gang Camp through the end of the year. Nextel says it will donate a portion of the funds generated from NASCAR-themed accessories, including vehicle power chargers, ear buds, handset cases and phone covers. It will also donate a portion of the proceeds on every purchase totaling more than $25 from www.nextelracegear.com.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(8-27-2004)
- Nextel at Indy: Nextel Service Coverage at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
regarding Nextel service coverage around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this coming weekend - August 6-8. At this time, we anticipate that service coverage will be somewhat limited, primarily on Sunday for the Brickyard 400. Given anticipated attendance and the corresponding volume of calls on Sunday, Nextel anticipate's that there may be some difficulty completing both outbound and inbound calls. This is also likely to be the case for Nextel Direct Connect service.
Nextel brings the equivalent of 15 cellular sites to each NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series track through its four COWs (cell on wheels), which are strategically positioned outside and in the infield of the tracks. Given the large size of the IMS property and the anticipated fan attendance, Nextel is deploying one additional COW along the routes leading to and away from the track and have adjusted their permanent cellular site outside of Turn One to its fullest capacity.
Nextel apologizes in advance for any inconvenience this may cause and assure folks that they are working diligently with IMS and the other NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series tracks to best serve everyone and the entire NASCAR industry.
also, see an article at the Indy Star about Nextel and NASCAR: Nextel tries small steps after writing big check.(8-8-2004)
- New Nextel Feature: Nextel Communications on Thursday unveiled a new NASCAR feature, called FanScan In-Car Audio, which lets Nextel subscribers use their cell phones to eavesdrop on the chatter between NASCAR drivers and their crew chiefs, spotters and other team members. The service is for the NASCAR faithful who can't enough of the 15- to 30-second snippets used by TV networks during race broadcasts. Nextel, the sixth-largest U.S. cell phone service provider, wants to capitalize on its sponsorship of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series of races. A number of different FanScan service plans will be offered to subscribers starting Sunday. Under one plan, customers pay $10 for a month of chatter, or about four races. To combat declining per-minute phone prices, U.S. cell phone service providers have been offering new features like FanScan that don't involve phone conversations.(CNET)(6-25-2004)
- Nextel not Happy? UPDATE 2: Nextel officials continue to have sticker shock, a year after signing on as NASCAR's series sponsor. Officially the company has signed a 10-year contract with NASCAR, though some insiders say that it's a five-year contract with a five-year renewal option. The deal went down so quickly that many of the items that Nextel executives thought they were getting they find they're still having to negotiate for, and NASCAR sources say they're not happy.(from the Winston Salem Journal)(6-6-2004)
HOWEVER "The NASCAR Nextel Cup is an unprecedented opportunity to brand the most exciting championship series in sports, which lasts 10 months of the year, travels to all corners of the U.S., and captures the imagination of 75 million fans," said Tim Donahue, president and CEO of Nextel. "NASCAR's reach is unmatched, and we're thrilled to be associated with it."(from the Delaware News Journal)(6-6-2004)
UPDATE 2: NASCAR is denying a report in the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal that Nextel's sponsorship of its Cup Series is a five-year contract with an option for a five-year renewal. "As our organizations had announced last June, Nextel signed a 10-year deal with NASCAR," NASCAR Director of Business Communications Andrew Giangola told today's Sports Business Daily. "The Winston-Salem Journal did not contact NASCAR or refer to the widely circulated news release about the agreement and got it wrong."(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(6-8-2004)
- NASCAR.com to go: Nextel Communications, the leading provider of fully integrated wireless communications services, Digital Orchid Inc., an innovator in the development, management and distribution of branded wireless applications, and NASCAR.COM, a division of Turner Sports Interactive, today announced that a suite of real-time wireless NASCAR.COM content applications and services are available to consumers on mobile devices offered on the Nextel network. NASCAR.COM TO GO is a subscription service that gives members access to view and share a variety of real-time NASCAR.COM content via their wireless devices. Subscribers receive breaking news and features from NASCAR.COM's reporters, qualifying and race results, series standings, driver updates, as well as NASCAR.COM's live timing and scoring leaderboard service. "We are excited to have Nextel as our partner for the NASCAR.COM wireless services. Applications like NASCAR.COM TO GO are key components of Nextel's sponsorship of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, allowing all Nextel data users to access NASCAR.COM content in real-time on their mobile phone", said Cindy Sisson, senior vice president of marketing and co-founder of Digital Orchid. Services available to Nextel subscribers includes NASCAR.COM Mobile, a wireless web site with NASCAR.COM news and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series content, NASCAR.COM Alerts, a wireless messaging alert service that provides subscribers breaking news and event results, and NASCAR.COM TO GO, the first wireless java application created just for the NASCAR fan. NASCAR.COM TO GO is available on select Java-enabled color screen Nextel handsets, including the limited-edition NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series phones.
NASCAR.COM TO GO can be previewed and purchased at www.NASCAR.COM/mobile. NASCAR.COM TO GO is also preloaded on all 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series phones and all 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Drivers phones. Nextel i730 and i733 customers can download NASCAR.COM TO GO at no cost at www.iDENUpdate.com
To activate the subscription on 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series phones and all 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Drivers phones simply click on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series icon on the home page and click on the Get NASCAR.COM TO GO link. To activate the subscription on i730 and i733 phones, click on Net then Web Sites then Sports then Nextel Cup and then finally click on the Get NASCAR.COM TO GO link. Additional subscription fee of $9.99 for NASCAR.COM TO GO applies; Subscription service to Nextel Online Racing Connection data plan or any Nextel Online Web Access and Total Connect plan required.(TMCnet)(4-5-2004)
- Too Much Military at the Races? [not in my book] UPDATE Nextel Responds: NASCAR's pre-race shows are impressively and colorfully patriotic, with flags waving and race crews, including drivers, standing crisply at attention on pit road, and with glorious vocals and spectacular military flyovers. However, according to sources, some Nextel officials are uneasy with the image that might be seen by some as too staunchly militaristic and pro-war and might prefer a more middle-of-the-road approach to that and other sensitive political issues. And it is being suggested, according to these sources, that since Republican George Bush was invited to Daytona, a similar invitation should be extended to John Kerry, a Democratic presidential candidate, at another Nextel Cup race later this season.(Winston Salem Journal)(3-21-2004)
UPDATE - from NEXTEL: quite a few readers emailed Nextel and hammered them, they got a nice response back:
"Thank you for taking the time to write and voice your thoughts regarding NASCAR. I want you to know that Nextel supports our service men and women wherever they are serving this great country, without reservation. We have many Nextel employees in the reserves and a great many veterans. In fact, our Chief Operating Officer, Tom Kelly, is an Army veteran. There is no question that we value their dedication, bravery and commitment.
The comments and views that the Winston Salem Journal sports writer Mike Mulhern reported in his Sunday NASCAR notebook section are not remotely close to those of Nextel - I have personally discussed this with him. We are very upset with how Nextel has been improperly characterized as not supporting our service men and women through NASCAR pre-race shows. Nextel stands shoulder to shoulder with the millions of patriotic NASCAR fans.
In partnership with the American Red Cross, Nextel has supported the armed forces through the American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services (AFES) program. This is a program that asks people to donate their old wireless phones so that we can recycle them and generate funds for the Red Cross. Through this program, Nextel has already raised more than $400,000 for AFES and has helped service men and women around the world stay in touch with their families during times of celebration or grief.
Nextel has proudly taken this program to NASCAR and its fans to garner additional support for our armed services men and women. And we will continue our efforts on this front and wherever we see opportunities."(3-23-2004)
- AT&T and Cingular; Nextel Next? Nextel Communications Inc. has in the past had merger talks with WorldCom Inc., AT&T Wireless Services Inc. and other potential partners, but they led nowhere. Now the question is: Will Cingular Wireless LLC's $41 billion bid for AT&T Wireless, a deal that would result in the nation's largest cell phone company, force Nextel into a marriage with another carrier
[and how will that merger, AT&T and Cingular, effect the sponsorhip of #31 Robby Gordon's RCR Chevy, is unknown, but that merger could take months even years - Yahoo Biz].
Susan B. Kalla, an analyst for Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group Inc., says yes. She gives Nextel at most two years before it succumbs to a merger or acquisition. Combinations like Cingular Wireless and AT&T Wireless will achieve enough cost savings to "put smaller players like Nextel at a competitive disadvantage," Kalla said. "Nextel will be forced to do some consolidation." Viktor Shvets, an analyst for Deutsche Bank, says not necessarily. "When niches come under pressure there are two things you can do," he said. "You can either try to become better and better at what you do, or you can bulk up and become a much larger carrier." Nextel's trademark service has been its walkie-talkie [very cool feature, Jayski loves it], which allows users to reach people by pushing a button to talk instead of dialing phone numbers. The feature first attracted construction workers and truck drivers [like Jayski's Dad and Pop], but eventually became popular among professionals who need to be in constant communication with customers and co-workers. Over 90 percent of Nextel's 12.3 million customers are businesspeople, according to the company. Analysts said Nextel could pursue two strategies. It could become a specialty player, offering businesses increasingly sophisticated wireless services, such as remote access to company databases or live video feeds over its networks. Or it could evolve into a broad wireless company, possibly by merging with Sprint. The company's strategy has nurtured rapid growth. Nextel reported a 22 percent yearly increase in subscribers at the end of September, and its stock more than doubled in 2003. Analysts expect that trend to continue when Nextel reports fourth-quarter earnings tomorrow.(see full story at Washington Post - need to reg to view)(2-18-2004)
- Nextel Launches First Official NASCAR Wireless Handsets in the Sport's History: Nextel Communications Inc. announced the availability of a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Phone and ten NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Driver Phones, which are modeled after ten specific drivers. The eleven new handsets are the first NASCAR-branded wireless phones in the sport's history. Collectively, the handsets share the Motorola i736 model name. More info at www.nextel.com(Yahoo Biz)(2-10-2004)
- Nextel Cup and Franklin Mint? hearing that Bruce Hayes, owner of Hayes Jewelers in Lexington, NC, who had made the Winston Cup trophy for RJR [Winston] for years, will not be doing so this year and that it will be made by the Franklin Mint.(1-12-2004)
- Sponsorhip Deal Tops Sports Business News: NASCAR's selection of Nextel to replace R.J. Reynolds' Winston brand as the title sponsor of its top national series was the year's biggest sports business story, Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal says. A panel of the weekly publication's editors and writers said the 10-year, $750 million deal ranked ahead of the $2.2 billion broadcast and sponsorship deal struck by NBC and GE with the International Olympic Committee for the 2010 Winter Games and 2012 Summer Games.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-23-2003)
- Nextel to meet with NASCAR about points system UPDATE and final POLL results: Nextel Communications, which takes over as sponsor for NASCAR's Cup series in 2004, is meeting with NASCAR this week to seek information about a proposed addition of a playoff format to its top series, officials with the sponsor confirmed Tuesday. Nextel, which signed a 10-year deal in June to sponsor the Cup series, was not informed of NASCAR's desire to change the current points system before its deal with NASCAR was completed, sources confirmed. NASCAR officials maintain they are seriously considering a plan that would create a 26-race "regular season" and 10-race playoff format. Only the top-10 drivers in points after 26 races would be eligible to race for the championship over the final 10 races. A decision is expected next month. Since the plan first became widely circulated during the annual Cup awards banquet weekend in New York, Nextel has received an "overwhelming" response regarding the proposal from fans, sources said. Fans have flooded Internet message boards and radio talk shows discussing the playoff system. Some have mistakenly credited Nextel with pushing for the change. The plan, however, has been promoted heavily by new NASCAR chairman Brian France. In two recent Internet polls - one which is still underway - race fans have overwhelmingly expressed their disapproval with the playoff format.
A poll on ThatsRacin.com last week asked fans if NASCAR should adopt the "26-10" playoff-style points system in 2004. Of the nearly 4,600 responses, over 85-percent said 'no.'
Another poll on jayski.com asking if the NASCAR points system should be changed has elicited nearly 20,000 votes, with 55-percent saying 'no.' Of the seven choices given to change the system, the playoff format currently under consideration had 924 votes, or 4.69-percent as of Tuesday.
Cup drivers Kevin Harvick and 2002 champion Tony Stewart have recently expressed support of the current points system, with Harvick preferring a small points addition for winning a race. Ford Racing officials reached Tuesday said they would reserve comment on the playoff format until they received more specifics of the proposal from NASCAR.(ThatsRacin.com)(12-17-2003)
UPDATE: On Wednesday, Tom Kelly, chief operating officer of Nextel Communications, met with NASCAR personnel in Reston, VA as the two organizations continue to plan the rollout of Nextel's first-year sponsorship agenda, details of which are scheduled to be unveiled in January. Since the announcement of the sponsorship in June, Nextel has been very quiet, preferring to give Winston a wide berth for its final months in the spotlight. That will change in a big way next month as Nextel begins the process of boosting its name recognition among NASCAR fans.(in part from the Greenville News)(12-19-2003)
and The JAYSKI Poll looks like Votations.com shut down my Points Poll [won't use them again]
so I guess the final results are as follows:
29452 votes thru 11:00am/et on Dec 18th with 53.9% answering NO
46.1% answering YES in some fashion and only 4.64% voted for the "playoff" system that is being proposed.(12-19-2003)
- Nextel Plans: Nextel plans $25M in upgrades to cell phone service at tracks. Nextel marketer Michael Robichaud had a fear that a branding dream could become a nightmare. Call volume around big events can overwhelm wireless phone services. And as Nextel replaces Winston next year as NASCAR's title sponsor in what might be the biggest U.S. sponsorship ever, Robichaud imagined trackside fans, amidst Nextel signs, trying to get their cell phones to work. "I can see the cover of sports sections showing that," he says. "And we really don't need that picture." So Nextel, paying more than $700 million over 10 years to title-sponsor a series that drew about 6.7 million fans last year, will spend about $25 million on antennas and switching gear so fans can make calls from tracks next year. Fans, that is, who are Nextel subscribers. And what if racetracks let other phone services make upgrades? Says Robichaud: "We would be, uh, disappointed."(USA Today)(12-12-2003)
- Nextel names two NASCAR personnel: Nextel Communications appointed communications and marketing directors for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, a 10-year title sponsorship announced in June.
Jill Gregory joins Nextel as director of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series marketing. She will be responsible for all NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series marketing activities, building a team, promoting the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series brand and developing and maintaining relationships with NASCAR, teams, drivers, promoters and fans. Prior to joining Nextel, Gregory was vice president and general manager for GMR Marketing, where she managed all sports, event and hospitality activities for Visa USA and other clients. Her sports property management experience includes NFL, NASCAR, Visa Triple Crown, Broadway, Disney and other entertainment events. Gregory also has extensive motor sports management experience from her years managing all sponsorship marketing programs for Texaco Inc. She has a bachelor's degree from the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Mike Mooney joins Nextel as director of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series corporate communications. He will be responsible for creating a team and managing media relations, community relations and special events for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Mooney has 10 years of experience in motor sport public relations and has worked on accounts with CITGO, NASCAR, NHRA, PGA Tour, ATP Tour and CART. Prior to joining Nextel, Mooney was principal for Cox Marketing Group where he was responsible for strategy, execution and measurement for clients' sports public relations programs. He has a bachelor's degree from Elon University, Elon, N.C. Both Gregory and Mooney will be based in Charlotte, NC.(Business Wire)(11-18-2003)
- RJR merges: R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and rival Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. are uniting their U.S. operations in a $2.6 billion deal aimed at weathering an onslaught of discounted brands and lawsuits. The deal announced late Monday vastly expands the reach of two tobacco companies that together produce about one of every three cigarettes smoked in the United States. The merged operation will be called Reynolds American Inc., with about $10 billion in annual sales. R.J. Reynolds makes Camel, Winston, Salem and Doral, while Brown & Williamson's top brands include Kool, Lucky Strike and Capri. The combined company will still trail industry giant Philip Morris USA, whose market-leading Marlboro and other brands command about half the U.S. cigarette market.(AP/Charlotte Observer)(10-28-2003)
- Nextel hiring from RJR? Nextel officials are moving quickly to put together a new NASCAR operations staff, and some RJR [Winston] veterans are expected to get the call.(Winston Salem Journal)(9-22-2003)
- NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Logo Unveiled:NASCAR unveiled the official logo for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series that will begin in 2004. Sporting a bold yellow-and-black look, the distinctive logo will be the brand identifier for the nation's most popular form of motorsports and the nation's second-most popular sport overall. "We think this design will be appealing to our drivers, team members, tracks and, of course, our fans," NASCAR President Mike Helton said. The new logo will be utilized beginning in January, when NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams come to Daytona International Speedway for NASCAR Preseason Thunder, the annual test sessions leading up to the season-opening Daytona 500. "We've worked with NASCAR to create a logo and identity that exudes the strength of the athletes and the power of the sport," said Nextel Senior Vice President of Marketing Mark Schweitzer. "Since announcing the 10-year partnership between NASCAR and Nextel, one of the most-asked questions we've received has been about the logo. It's bright, bold and forward moving " just like the sport it represents."(NASCAR PR)(9-22-2003)
- Nextel/NASCAR assignments? Andrew Feit, one of the key men in NASCAR's New York office, is expected to be assigned full-time to NASCAR's Nextel account, and Brett Yormark, the head of that office, could be named 'Marketer of the Year' for his work in closing the $700 million/10-year deal.(Winston Salem Journal)(9-6-2003)
- Nextel buying land: Nextel is close to buying land near Concord, N.C., where NASCAR's safety facility and a number of teams are based, USA Today reports. The story says the telecommunications company, which takes over sponsorship of NASCAR's top series next year, plans on hiring a 20-person staff that "presumably will include some" employees of R.J. Reynolds Sports Marketing Enterprises division.(Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter)(8-29-2003)
- The Preview: been asked, what happens to the Winston Preview now that Winston/RJR is leaving?
The T. Wayne Robertson preseason NASCAR preview may not be dead after all, according to several Winston Cup drivers who say they've been told by NASCAR officials that no decision has yet been made on the annual January event, which has been held in Winston-Salem for the past 18 years. But NASCAR's hopes to hold the preview in Daytona during January testing may be doomed, according to drivers, who said they're not interested in flying all the way to Florida for the one-day autograph session and auction. NASCAR had tentative plans to hold the preview on the Jan. 10 weekend between the two three-day Daytona 500 test sessions. If the preview is held the same weekend as it was this year, it would be Saturday, Jan. 17, after the two sessions. Some drivers would prefer the preview simply be dropped -- others say it's a worthwhile charity event.(Winston Salem Journal)(8-24-2003)
- Nextel Article: Nextel Communications made history June 19 when it signed on to be the title sponsor of what will be known as the NASCAR Nextel Cup, starting with the 2004 season. Nextel replaces the current sponsor, Winston, which has been the title sponsor for 33 years. The 10-year contract for a reported $700 million to $750 million is the largest sponsorship deal in the history of sports, dwarfing other pacts like Nike's 13-year deal for $440 million with English soccer club Manchester United and Winston's current $200 million five-year agreement with NASCAR. Nextel beat out other companies like McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Visa, which were all reportedly interested in signing on as the title sponsor. But the question that investors must ask is this: Can Nextel make a profit on this deal? At the press conference announcing the agreement, Nextel stated that the deal would not negatively affect its bottom line. A closer look at the numbers shows in fact there could be a tremendous upside to the deal for Nextel. In the first quarter of this year, Nextel generated an average of $67 in revenue per customer. Its 11.1 million customers produced $2.2 billion in service revenue for the quarter. See full article at Forbes.com: Nextel's Push To Talk Profits.(8-14-2003)
- New Color Scheme for Cup: It appears NASCAR's premier series will not only get a name change next season, but also a new color scheme. Nextel Communications signed a 10-year deal to begin sponsoring what is now known as the Winston Cup series beginning in 2004. The change will also include the series' marketing colors, from traditional red and white to predominantly yellow and black [HEY - just like Jayski!!], ThatsRacin.com has learned. The change in color would be new for NASCAR as well as Nextel, which uses primarily maroon now in its advertising. The change will be made in part to make Nextel's involvement more distinctive, sources confirmed. The Winston Cup series' logos and colors can be found all over the country, including billboards, souvenirs, signage at tracks and even the colors of NASCAR's mobile headquarters haulers.(ThatsRacin.com)(8-8-2003)
- 1-800-jeffgoron? Among the innovative twists Nextel officials are looking at for fans next season is a 1-800 service to listen to drivers and crew chiefs, like 1-800-JeffGordon. What some Winston Cup team owners would like Nextel to do is help open up the European marketplace for possible sponsors. Nextel's sports marketing company does handle the British Grand Prix, which offers a tantalizing opening. However, that Nextel subsidiary hasn't done very well with that venture.(Winston Salem Journal), so, wondering outloud here, AT&T handles all the communications at the track now for NASCAR and nascar.com, which is run by Turner Broadcasting, what happens in 2004???(7-28-2003)
- From RJR to Nextel? Similar Colors? Changes are coming at R.J. Reynolds' Sports Marketing division, with NASCAR's switch to Nextel as the stock-car series sponsor, and, sources say that Rich Habegger, RJR's well-respected operations manager for sports, is expected to move to Nextel to help in the transition. It is unclear how many of his employees may move with him. After so many years of red-and-white as the official colors of NASCAR, the possible new color scheme won't be far off - maroon-and-white.(Winston Salem Journal)(7-24-2003)
- More on Nextel and AT&T and now Verizon: AT& --T corporate officials are meeting this week to study the NASCAR land-scape and decide what they might want to do next season in terms of sponsorship on the Winston/Nextel Cup tour. And, the Winston-Salem Journal learned yesterday, Verizon and AT& --T Wireless aren't giving up hope of playing the stock-car racing game, too, despite Nextel's apparent exclusivity arrangement with NASCAR. It is not clear if any legal challenges might be forthcoming, but some industry sources consider NASCAR's 'partial exclusivity' grant to Nextel, with Cingular Wireless and Alltel grandfathered in, possibly illegal. The next move on the AT& --T-Nextel front may come from Fox and NBC, because the networks may not be interested in giving up potential ad sales to AT& --T, even with Nextel coming in to pay perhaps $1 million a race for on-air mentions. The nation's six wireless companies spend about $3 billion a year on advertising. Sources say that NBC is hot to get some of that money.(much more at the Winston Salem Journal)(7-23-2003)
- More on NASCAR, Nextel and AT&T UPDATE: NASCAR's Nextel dealings continue to have repercussions throughout the Winston Cup garage, and some car owners are increasingly worried about what appears to be NASCAR's new aggressive stance in defining sponsorship categories, such as telecommunications. At the start of the season every driver and car owner must sign a contract with NASCAR agreeing to abide by a number of rules, including limits on sponsorships and marketing. No sign, no drive. With the Nextel-AT& --T furor, some car owners fear that NASCAR may expand those limits.(Winston Salem Journal)
UPDATE: heard that Nextel has been deluged with letters, emails and telephone calls from race fans, asking them to reconsider their decision to now allow AT&T to sponsor Ken Schrader. The reason NASCAR had to say something was to take the heat off of Nextel, and NASCAR agreed to say it was their decision, even though it obviously is Nextel's. If the sponsorship is going to come through for Schrader, Nextel will have to agree to allow it to happen. If fans want to write [can be good or bad, even if you complain about the AT&T thing, don't forget to thank them for taking over sponsorship of the sport, remember RJR/Winston WANTED out.....], the address is:
Mr. Tim Donohue
2001 Edmund Halley Drive
Reston, Virginia 20191
EMAIL: Media Relations
- More on AT&T and Nextel: The future of AT&T's involvement in NASCAR remains in question, although it appears #49 BAM Racing has lost most hope in securing the company as a primary sponsor for its Dodges and driver Ken Schrader [who is NOT retiring]. NASCAR chief operating officer George Pyne confirmed Friday that NASCAR made the decision not to allow an expansion of AT&T's sponsorship of BAM Racing in light of the sanctioning body's new 10-year deal with Nextel Communications to sponsor what is now the Winston Cup series beginning in 2004. AT&T's 1-800-CALL-ATT division, which has served as a primary sponsor on BAM's #49 in several races this season, was among the sponsors that would be allowed to continue in the sport under a "grandfather clause," Pyne said. However, NASCAR drew the line on any expansion of AT&T's involvement, particularly the use of any logos that would promote AT&T Wireless, a direct competitor of Nextel. "It is part of our responsibility to look out for the interests for our teams and our sponsors," Pyne said. Audrey Schaefer, director of corporate communications for Nextel, said NASCAR was the "final arbiter" for all sponsor decisions. She said Nextel had no objection to AT&T's continued involvement in the sport so long as it fell within the confines of Nextel's agreement with NASCAR. The use of AT&T's trademark "globe" logo has been the sticking point on most of the discussions involving the possible full-time sponsorship of BAM's team. NASCAR has also had AT&T as an "official sponsor," but that agreement concludes at the end of the season, Pyne said.(ThatsRacin.com)(7-18-2003)
- Censorship? The roar of powerful engines is an integral part of the racing experience for most fans. But, for a growing number of NASCAR spectators, the sounds of cars is only a muffled distraction. Instead, they put on their headphones and tune into the radio frequencies that give them the behind-the-scenes conversations between pit crews and drivers, and a host of other colorful voices. The unguarded comments of drivers, crew chiefs, track officials and TV crew members may be in limited supply. One of the rumors around NASCAR is that new title sponsor Nextel might have some say in monitoring those communications. After all, that is their business.(Beacon News)(7-14-2003)
- The Meaning of the Nextel Deal Teleconference: NASCAR will hold a teleconference with car owners this week to review the meaning of the new Nextel deal to the sport and, more importantly to the owners, the sponsor pool. According to one owner, the NASCAR teleconference this week will cover in more detail what Nextel has purchased from NASCAR, and what the owners will have to steer clear of when they're speaking to potential sponsors. In a letter to the teams that was issued two weeks ago it was explained, in fairly clear-cut terms the definition of "competing with Nextel." And the list of exclusions is lengthy, according to team sources.(Ford Racing)(7-14-2003)
- More about Nextel/NASCAR/AT&T at Transition tough for Nextel by Mike Mulhern of the Winston Salem Journal.(too long and too much info to be a blurb here)(7-6-2003)
- Nextel boss at Daytona: Tim Donahue , president and CEO officer of Nextel, which recently signed a 10-year agreement to sponsor what is now known as the Winston Cup series beginning in 2004, was on hand for Saturday's drivers meeting at Daytona International Speedway. NASCAR President Mike Helton introduced several Nextel representatives and when Donahue was introduced, he was greeted by a standing ovation from those in attendance. "We've never been in anything as big or as exciting as this sponsorship. We want to make it a great time for the fans, for the teams, for the drivers, for the owners, for everyone involved," Donahue said. "No one understands the importance of relationships more than I do. This is a partnership in the true sense of the word. We really want to enhance the relationship and do everything we can to take the NASCAR sport you all started to the next level." Donahue also thanked officials with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. for their work sponsoring the series since 1972. "We are humbled by the opportunity and I think RJR has done a fabulous job over the last 30-plus years, and we're going to work real hard to fill those very big shoes."(ThatsRacin.com)(7-6-2003)
- Nextel and the Ponies: Less than a week after announcing a blockbuster sponsorship deal with Nascar, Nextel Communications has signed a multiyear marketing deal with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but Nextel says it will become the title and divisional sponsor of the Nextel Breeders' Cup Distaff, part of the $14 million Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, beginning in 2004. Nextel will get promotional and hospitality benefits, as well as print media and commercial advertising during televised horse races, including scheduled races on NBC, CBS and ESPN. Nextel joins other National Thoroughbred Racing Association sponsors that include John Deere, FedEx and Guinness. Last week, Nextel signed a deal to become the official sponsor of what was previously titled Winston Cup Series. Under that 10-year deal, the Nascar racing circuit will be renamed the Nextel Cup Series, beginning in 2004. It replaces R.J. Reynolds, which had sponsored the races since 1971.(Washington Business Journal)(6-24-2003)
IT'S OFFICIAL THE NASCAR Press Release:
NEXTEL COMMUNICATIONS NAMED TITLE SPONSOR OF NASCAR'S PREMIER SERIES
"THE NASCAR NEXTEL CUP SERIES"
NASCAR today announced that Nextel Communications will become the title sponsor of NASCAR's premier national series and one of America's most popular sports.
Under the 10-year agreement, Nextel, a leading provider of wireless communications services on the largest all-digital wireless network in the country, will have unlimited opportunities to market and promote the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, beginning in the 2004 season.
"Nextel is a partner with a strong brand, a bright future, and a vision for growing our sport," said NASCAR Chairman Bill France. "They are one of the most technologically advanced and an acknowledged leader in a sector that helps drive the U.S. economy. The serious and substantial commitment Nextel brings to our sport will benefit the fans, drivers, teams, owners and tracks."
"It's unmistakable that NASCAR and Nextel have a shared passion for performance, innovation, loyalty and excellence," said Nextel President and CEO Tim Donahue. "We can't wait to begin this new chapter in NASCAR-Nextel history, and to connect with everyone involved in the sport. This is a truly monumental day for us."
"This is a perfect fit," said NASCAR Vice Chairman and Executive Vice President Brian France. "Technology is an emerging area of growth for NASCAR and its fans " who have a penchant for using wireless communications. Nextel will be able to promote its association with NASCAR in a variety of media, targeting fans across the country. While NASCAR is No. 1 in fan brand loyalty, No. 2 on television, and No. 3 in licensed products sales, our objective is to continue to grow our sport and to expand and diversify our sponsorship base."
The NASCAR Nextel Cup Series will consist of 36 championship points races at 23 tracks in 19 states, including events in the Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Miamimarkets. NASCAR is the second most-watched professional sport on television and has more Fortune 500 company sponsor participants than any other sport.
"The NASCAR Nextel Cup is an unprecedented opportunity to brand the most exciting championship series in sports " which lasts 10 months of the year, travels to all corners of the U.S., and captures the imagination of 75 million fans," said Donahue. "We're already hard at work planning a full slate of technical, marketing and promotional plans to establish a relationship with NASCAR's passionate fan base and dedicated business partners. NASCAR's reach is unmatched and we're thrilled to be associated with it."
In the most recent survey of sports properties, conducted by Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal in 2000, NASCAR ranked No. 1 in the areas that sponsors rate as the most important in determining their marketing decisions: the sport's future prospects; responsiveness to customers; fan relationships; and value provided for the money. NASCAR internal research shows that its fans are three times as likely to try and purchase its sponsors' products compared to companies not involved in NASCAR.
Nextel will replace R.J. Reynolds' Winston brand as title sponsor of NASCAR''s premier series. RJR has sponsored the NASCAR Winston Cup Series since 1971, investing millions of dollars to support NASCAR. However, in the face of increasing limitations on tobacco companies' marketing activities, as well as new financial obligations, RJR chose to transition away from NASCAR.
"R.J. Reynolds has been an invaluable partner for more than 30 years," NASCAR Chairman Bill France said. "The company and its people have invested heart and soul into our sport, helping to grow NASCAR to what it is today. We will always be grateful for our long and successful partnership."
NASCAR has a broad reach with 1,800 racing events in 36 states at more than 110 tracks. The sanctioning body for stock car racing is headquartered in Daytona Beach, Fla, with offices in New York City (Corporate Marketing), Los Angeles (Broadcasting Media and Entertainment), Charlotte, N.C. (Licensing and Aftermarket), and Concord, N.C. (Research and Development Center).
Based in Reston, Va., Nextel Communications, a Fortune 300 company and ranked the No. 1 Info Tech company by Business Week, is a leading provider of fully-integrated wireless voice and data communications services including Nextel Direct ConnectÒ and Nationwide Direct ConnectÔ " the long-range digital walkie-talkie feature; high quality digital cellular services; Nextel OnlineÒ wireless data content and business solutions; and two-way messaging service. The company has built the largest guaranteed all-digital wireless network in the country, covering thousands of communities across the U.S.. Nextel and Nextel Partners, Inc., currently serve 198 of the top 200 markets with services available today in areas of the U.S. where approximately 240 million people live and work.
NASCAR and Nextel will hold a news conference today at 10 a.m. ET to announce that Nextel will become the title sponsor of NASCAR"s premier national series " and one of America"s most popular sports. In addition to the Chairman of NASCAR and the Chief Executive Officer and President of Nextel, NASCAR greats Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. also will attend.(NASCAR PR)(6-19-2003)
- FLASHY PRESS CONFERENCE - a few highlights: good music to start off 'the announcement', some Who and Van Halen, lots of video of fans and drivers and some racing. Nice honor and short film honoring RJR Reynolds and Winston as the past title sponsor. Then Bill France Jr. spoke about 'the best kept secret' announcement, he looks quite well. Next up was Tim Donahue, President and CEO of Nextel, who spoke of chemistry [probably the most important ingrediant in any Cup team] between NASCAR and Nextel in meetings. Nextel is looking forward to bringing their technology to NASCAR and the teams. Donahue then called up Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnahrdt Jr. and presented them with prototype DuPont and Budweiser Nextel phones. Next up is Q&A session with the media. Many questions dealing with the details of the deal, the effect on TV, how the connection was made between NASCAR and Nextel, a question directed to Gordon and Earnhardt Jr. about how to make NASCAR known better in New York, Gordon started off by saying 'a racetrack at the Meadowlands', which drew a big laugh. THE BIG ONE: Nextel will be the sponsor for the All-Star Race, formerally known as The Winston. Earnhadrt Jr. was asked about changes, and mentioned he liked the recent schedule changes and is looking forward to more days off [big laugh again]. A few more Q&A's, then lunch, end of the press conference. Speed Channel then spoke to National Speed Sport News editor and Broadcast Legend Chris Economaki for his thoughts, who wonders exactly what Nextel is wanting from the deal and the lack dollar numbers wondered and how it will effect advertising.
All Star Race: Speed Channel's Ralph Sheheen then interviewed NASCAR's President, Mike Helton. It was asked again about the All-Star race, Helton said it would be know as the NASCAR All Star Race presented by Nextel (was The Winston) and could end up moving to other venue's or tracks in the future. As for the Winston Preview, that is still unknown as it was more 'sponsor specific' with RJR/Winston.(6-19-2003)
LINKS for more info see:
NASCAR.com - Transcript: Nextel press conference
ThatsRacin.com - Text from Thursday's news conference
ThatsRacin.com - RJR comments on announcement
Speed Channel - Nextel Plans to Hit the Ground Running
- Who is Nextel? NASCAR will announce Thursday that the wireless communications company Nextel will replace R.J. Reynolds as title sponsor of its top series. Some information about the company:
-- Nextel is based in Reston, Va., and trades on the NASDAQ exchange under the symbol NXTL. It is the nation's leading provider of all-digital wireless service.
-- The company was founded in April of 1987 under the name Fleet Call. It became Nextel in March of 1993.
-- According to the company's most recent annual report (2002), Nextel accumulated $8.7 billion in domestic revenue, and had a net income of $1.66 billion.
-- The company reported nearly 11 million subscribers in 2002, up 22 percent from the year before.
-- Nextel is no stranger to auto racing. The company has served as the title sponsor of a sports-car event at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as well as the sponsor of a PacWest entry in the CART series.(Charleston Post and Courier)(6-18-2003)
- More Nextel rumors UPDATEs announcement on Thursday in New York City, Nextel for 10 years, Gordon on hand: NASCAR's Mike Helton spent three days last week in Washington, DC, according to NASCAR sources, possibly working out some of the details with Nextel on what is expected to be a new series sponsorship for what has been the Winston Cup tour the past 30 years. According to one unconfirmed report, the financial pact would include a $30 million a year payment to NASCAR for the series title and a $50 million a year ad buy on television.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-16-2003)
UPDATE: Fox Sports Nets Totally NASCAR reports that Nextel will be the new title sponsor of NASCAR's series known currently as Winston Cup. The announcement is expected to come this Thursday, June 19th. Also see a column on ESPN.com - Nextel deal to be announced Thursday in New York City at 10:00am/et.(6-16-2003)
UPDATE 2: ESPN reported on its website that Nextel would be announced the next NASCAR Winston Cup series sponsor at a press conference Thursday morning in New York. A NASCAR spokesman, however, denied a deal has been reached with Nextel to become the title sponsor of its top racing series. R.J. Reynolds, which sponsors Winston Cup, told NASCAR to look for a new sponsor because of uncertainty in the tobacco industry. "It's safe to say that the first phase of (looking for a primary sponsor) was when we were looking for sponsors to hook up to our series. Now we have moved to the second phase and have companies seriously interested," NASCAR spokesman Herb Branham told the Miami Herald by telephone Monday evening. "That's where we are now. We can't talk about one specific company because it's still too early to do that." Branham told the Miami Herald that NASCAR has not scheduled a press conference. RJR signed a five-year extension to sponsor the series in 2002. The Charlotte Observer reported last week that Nextel, a Virginia-based provider of ireless communication services, was negotiating with NASCAR. Sources told The Observer, however, that `major issues' had to be resolved before Nextel would take over the sponsorship deal that RJR has had since 1972.(Charlotte Observer), also see a report on USA Today: Nextel set to replace Winston as NASCAR's title sponsor(6-17-2002)
UPDATE 3 - Thursday, June 19th NASCAR has scheduled a news conference in New York City on Thursday morning, when Nextel, a Reston, Va.-based provider of wireless communications services, will be introduced as the new sponsor of what is now known as the Winston Cup series, several sources confirmed. Sources said NASCAR has all-but-completed negotiations with Nextel and will unveil the new sponsor for its top series in extravagant style in New York. Four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon has also been asked to attend and is expected to be on hand for the announcement, sources said. An advisory from NASCAR of the news conference is expected to be released sometime Tuesday, sources said. Nextel would take over the sponsorship deal that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco has had since 1972. Last week, The Charlotte Observer reported the deal could be worth as much to $90 million per year, including about $40 million for television advertising and other media buys.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-17-2003)
THE ANNOUNCEMENT: Major news announcement by NASCAR Chairman Bill France Jr. and NASCAR Vice Chairman and Executive Vice President Brian France, with four-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon and championship contender Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Thursday, June 19, 10:00am/et in New York City, NY at 4 Times Square (corner of 43rd Street and Broadway, Second Floor) - NASCAR.com will have a webcast online, SPEED Channel and XM Satellite Radio will also be carrying the news conference live..(6-17-2003)
on MRN's NASCAR Today Radio show, it was mentioned that the announcement could be the new fuel sponsor [as 76 is leaving at the end of 2003] or a new series title sponsor.(6-17-2003)
and as for The Winston All Star Race? Nextel may be ready to replace R.J. Reynolds' Winston cigarettes as the sponsor of NASCAR's top series, but the tobacco company may continue to sponsor the series' all-star race, according to one report. In its story on the expected Nextel deal, ESPN.com says, "It is believed that RJR may continue its sponsorship of The Winston." The future of the all-star race, which has been held at Lowe's Motor Speedway every year but one since its inception in 1985, has been the subject of considerable speculation since NASCAR began working to replace Winston as the series' title sponsor.(Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter)(6-17-2003)
and what of the Cingular and Alltel sponsorships? One change that fans won't have to worry about is the status of #31-Robby Gordon and #12-Ryan Newman's teams, which are both sponsored by Nextel rivals. Alltel is signed to sponsor Newman's team through 2006, and Cingular Wireless is signed to sponsor Gordon's team through 2005. Richard Childress, car owner for Gordon's team, said Tuesday he expected both Cingular and Alltel to be grandfathered in, allowing them to remain in the series despite Nextel's presence.(Roanoke Times) AND However, expect Cingular and Alltel to get the cold shoulder, much like RJR grudgingly tolerated the Skoal and Copenhagen sponsorships.. Those cars didn't appear in NASCAR ads, video, promotions or on program covers. Other companies presently in the sport might not fare as well. Cellular One (Busch) and Verizon (ARCA) might have moved up to the Cup series. Now what? If Nextel insists on tracks and teams using only their radio/phone technology, what happens to longtime NASCAR and team sponsors Racing Radios and Racing Electronics? They supply the Motorola two-way radios used by the teams as well as the scanners fans use to eavesdrop on driver to team communications.(6-18-2003)
RJR - No Comment - The Winston Preview? RJ Reynolds isn't commenting on the report that Nextel is stepping in to take its place as NASCAR's top sponsor. RJR Sports Marketing Enterprises president Ned Leary says it's premature to make any comment before Thursday's news conference in New York. It's then that a formal announcement is expected. In February, RJR said it was giving NASCAR permission to look for a new sponsor, pointing to the uncertainties in the tobacco industry as a factor. The latest news raises questions in Winston-Salem, where Reynolds is headquarted and where a number of racing-related businesses are located. There's also the annual Winston Cup Preview at the Joel Coliseum that draws thousands of NASCAR fans to the area and raises millions of dollars for charities.(AP/News 14)(6-18-2003)
- Nextel a done deal? NASCAR has completed negotiations with Nextel to be the next series sponsor replacing R. J. Reynolds, according to industry sources. The only questions left are when the announcement will be made, what happens to The Winston all-star race, and who will do all the behind-the-scenes work that RJR executives have done for many years. NASCAR officials would like to wait until the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in three weeks for the announcement, according to sources. No financial figures are available on the Nextel deal or how Fox, NBC and TNT will share in the new TV ad revenues. RJR pays NASCAR between $40 million and $50 million a year on a roll-over five-year contract, sources say. Visa offered NASCAR $80 million a year (apparently including monies for TV ads) with a 10-year contract, according to sources -- NASCAR liked the package but could not provide exclusivity.(Winston Salem Journal), Nextel and VISA seem to be the front runners.(6-14-2003)
- New Title Sponsor Soon? UPDATE 5 VISA?: NASCAR officials are on the verge of announcing a new series sponsor, according to NASCAR sources. Visa, Nokia, Motorola and Nextel have been mentioned. However NASCAR itself may try to handle the bulk of the PR operation when a new sponsor takes over. Also, there are reports that NASCAR executives are preventing present PR men from joining the new sponsor in order to keep more control of the sport inside the Daytona headquarters.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-8-2003)
UPDATE: some 'sources' have told me it'll be 'Nextel'....we'll see.(6-10-2002)
UPDATE 2: Depending on the day and the source, either VISA, Nextel, Motorola or Nokia will replace Winston as NASCAR's primary sponsor, perhaps as early as next year. Nextel was the most-rumored sponsor at Pocono, a week after sources at Dover said VISA had the inside track. Coca-Cola and McDonald's, previously the top rumored companies, have dropped out of the running.(Autoweek), so much for the 'Big Mac Cup'.(6-11-2003)
UPDATE 3: Nextel, a Reston, Va.-based provider of wireless communication services, is in negotiations with NASCAR to become the title sponsor of stock-car racing's premiere series, now known as Winston Cup. Several sources confirmed the negotiations to The Charlotte Observer on Wednesday, but cautioned that no deal has been signed and that major issues must be worked out before Nextel takes over the sponsorship deal that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco has had since 1972. One source said the deal could be worth as much to $90 million per year, a figure that would include about $40 million for television advertising and other media buys. Two other sources, however, said those numbers were too high. Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president for corporate communications, said Wednesday it would be accurate to say that the sanctioning body's search for a replacement for RJR has moved from efforts to find companies that might be interested to talks with companies that have expressed interest. Hunter would not say whether Nextel is one of those companies. Word of the talks with Nextel, however, has begun to reach other teams in the sport who may have conflicting sponsorship issues.(more at ThatsRacin.com/Charlotte Observer and some info: The Nextel Cup?)(6-11-2003)
UPDATE 4 DENIED: A report that wireless giant Nextel Communications is the leading contender to become the title sponsor of NASCAR's top racing series is "fundamentally premature," NASCAR chairman Bill France said Wednesday. France said that discussions are still ongoing with four or five companies to replace R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., which sponsors the Winston Cup. "It is fundamentally premature to say we are in final negotiations with anyone," France told The Associated Press. "We're still talking to several people and have not finalized anything with anyone."(USA Today/AP)(6-12-2003)
UPDATE 5: however, sources tell me it is gonna be VISA, not Nextel.(6-12-2003)
- New Title Sponsor Soon? NASCAR officials are on the verge of announcing a new series sponsor, according to NASCAR sources. Visa, Nokia, Motorola and Nextel have been mentioned. However NASCAR itself may try to handle the bulk of the PR operation when a new sponsor takes over. Also, there are reports that NASCAR executives are preventing present PR men from joining the new sponsor in order to keep more control of the sport inside the Daytona headquarters.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-8-2003)
UPDATE: some 'sources' have told me it'll be 'Nextel'....we'll see.(6-10-2002)
- The Visa Cup? UPDATE maybe not: The latest on NASCAR's search for a new series sponsor to replace R.J. Reynolds Tobacco: According to industry sources, Visa officials have reportedly given NASCAR a deadline for accepting the company's offer, which other sources have put at $80 to $85 million a year for the next 10 years. That deadline is believed be within the next 60 days, meaning NASCAR executives would have to make a call by July 1 or so.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-18-2003)
UPDATE: In the middle of last week it was not hard to find people around NASCAR who thought VISA was the leading candidate to replace R.J. Reynolds as title sponsor of the Winston Cup series. The trail on that story cooled off quickly, however. While VISA is still believed to be one of the companies being talked to by NASCAR about its most important sponsorship tie, there does not yet appear to be a clear lead horse in the race. One potential hurdle in a deal with VISA could be a $3 billion settlement of an antitrust lawsuit filed against Visa USA and MasterCard over debit card payments. VISA's portion of the settlement must still be approved by a federal judge, would be $2 billion over 10 years. The suit was brought by some of the country's largest retailers, Wal-Mart and Sears among them, who said that VISA and MasterCard had pressured them into allowing customers to pay with credit or debit cards requiring their signatures. Merchants protested since signature-authorized debit cards carry higher processing fees than cards using personal identification numbers, or PINs.(ThatsRacin.com)(5-19-2003)
- Buyout of RJR? The latest on the rumored buyout of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco by British-American Tobacco - RJR has been cutting back considerably on its sports marketing and has also shut down what it has termed "lifestyle" marketing, promotions in places such as bowling alleys, pool halls and bars. RJR has also shut down its convenience-store program, where a customer in to buy Marlboros, for example, would be offered free packs of Winstons as an incentive to change brands.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-15-2003)
- NASCAR says deal on title sponsor isn't close: A NASCAR spokesman said Wednesday it would be premature to name any company as a leading candidate to replace R.J. Reynolds Tobacco as title sponsor of the Winston Cup series. "In terms of finalizing any kind of a deal, I see another 60 days minimum," said Jim Hunter, vice president of corporate communications for NASCAR. "There are serious conversations going on, but as far as putting a timetable on it, I don't think we can." Earlier this year RJR officials confirmed they had told NASCAR that if another title sponsor could be found the tobacco company would step aside despite the fact it last year signed a five-year contract extension. Discussion about a new sponsor will likely be part of the upcoming weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway, where RJR is also the sponsor of The Winston all-star race scheduled for Saturday night. McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Gillette and Visa are among the companies that have been named as possible candidates to replace RJR in the title sponsor's role. Speculation that VISA has emerged as a front-runner has picked up in recent days, but Hunter said Wednesday that was not true. A Visa spokesperson declined to comment. Dean Bonham, president of The Bonham Group, a Denver-based sports-marketing agency, said he thinks NASCAR offers a potential sponsor on of the most attractive demographics in professional sports. "The NASCAR demographic is more diversified than many people realize," Bohnam said. "It's broad in terms of age, income and education, and its fans are much better educated and have a higher income than most people realize."(ThatsRacin.com)(5-15-2003)
- NASCAR's talks on title sponsorship continue: Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president for corporate communications, said Friday there are "four or five" companies involved in discussions about eventually replacing R.J. Reynolds Tobacco as title sponsor of the sport's top series. Hunter also said, however, that some of companies mentioned as possible candidates in published reports - Anheuser-Busch, AT&T and UPS and others - may not be among them. "McDonald's? Yes, we've talked to them," Hunter said. "I've seen names like Coca-Cola, VISA, Microsoft, Gillette and maybe one or two others pop up. If you say those kinds or companies are included among the ones we're talking to, that'd be accurate."(The Charlotte Observer)(5-3-2003)
- R.J. Reynolds [Winston] to sell? After British American Tobacco PLC reported higher quarterly international cigarette sales volume on flat profits, some European analysts were speculating yesterday that the world's second-largest tobacco company might be thinking about making a bid for struggling competitor R.J. Reynolds. Some analysts said BAT should seize on that opportunity to buy struggling RJR to bolster its size and competitive leverage in the U.S. market. Spokesman Prideaux said BAT won't rule out any possible acquisition, as long as it makes financial and strategic sense. He wouldn't comment on the specific issue of RJR.(Courier-Journal)(4-30-2003)
- More on McDonald's as the Title Sponsor for the Cup Series: McDonald's has confirmed a Bloomberg Report that they've seen a presentation by NASCAR to sponsor its elite national touring series, but a deal that could consume 20-30% of the fast food chain's total advertising and marketing budget hasn't gone very far up the corporate ladder. McDonald's has been downsizing its racing programs for some years and just turned in the first-ever quarterly loss for the restaurant company. One source close to the McDonald's A&M program says a potential $40 million annual payment to NASCAR for title rights and similar payment to the television partners is likely not in the cards. The representative added, "But I'm not sure who has that kind of money to invest in a single program - NASCAR or not." McDonald's would need the support of its national franchisees to write the estimated $80 million annual investment to NASCAR. However, many franchises stores are closing with others downsizing.(Ford Racing)(4-27-2003)
- Title Sponsor for Cup Series: Negotiations are under way with several companies as possible successors to Winston as title sponsor of NASCAR's top series. Names regularly mentioned in recent speculation include McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch and VISA. That speculation has been growing since January, when R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. said it had given NASCAR permission to look for a new sponsor for the Winston Cup Series. Brian France, senior vice president of NASCAR and the grandson of the founder of the sanctioning body, confirmed Thursday to a group of Associated Press sports editors at a meeting in New York that the sanctioning body was in negotiations with several companies. France declined to identify them.(ESPN/AP)(4-26-2003)
- The Big Mac [a jayski fave] Cup? McDonald's is negotiating with NASCAR for naming rights to the Winston Cup Series, according to a Bloomberg News report. McDonald's has always been among the companies considered as possible replacements for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco as the series' title sponsor, a deal said to be worth between $40 million and $60 million. "Are we interested? Sure," John Lewicki, head of sports marketing for McDonald's, told Bloomberg. "If it makes sense for us, we'll absolutely look at it." NASCAR vice president for communications Jim Hunter said Friday the sanctioning body is having discussions with several companies about title sponsorship of its top series, but would not comment on any specific companies involved.(ThatsRacin.com)(4-25-2003)
- Court upholds ruling against RJR: R.J. Reynolds violated its settlement agreement with the state when it failed to remove signs mentioning its Winston brand at the Sears Point Raceway [Infineon Raceway now], a state appellate court ruled Thursday. The state was previously granted summary judgment in its case against Reynolds, based in Winston-Salem, N.C. But Reynolds contended the Superior Court of San Diego County erred in concluding that the continued display of the Winston signs was a violation. The 1998 settlement was the result of the state's lawsuit against various tobacco product manufacturers, including Reynolds. The settlement banned all billboard and outdoor advertising of tobacco products, but permitted Reynolds to continue to promote and its NASCAR Winston Cup Series as a "Brand Name Sponsorship." Reynolds interpreted that portion of the settlement to mean they could keep their signs in place at the racetrack from 90 days prior to the first event in the series until 10 days after the final event. But the state understood the language of the settlement to cover individual events and individual locations. The fourth appellate district court agreed and upheld the lower court's ruling.(Charlotte Obseerver/AP)(3-28-2003)
- Will Microsoft replace Winston as NASCAR sponsor? UPDATE: The search for a new title sponsor for the Winston Cup Series continues with the sanctioning body looking at companies who have previously lacked an affiliation with the sport and lack "baggage". There are hints that Microsoft is a primary target, as is an as yet unnamed insurance company, with 2005 being the likely year for the introduction of a new sponsor. One thing you can bet on, the title "Winston Cup Series" will go away, despite the fact NASCAR owns the rights to the term "Winston Cup."(AutoRacing1.com - need subscription to read/Stan Creekmore, NASCAR Editor)(3-15-2003)
UPDATE: Rumors of interest by Microsoft as a potential new series sponsor for the Winston Cup Series appear to be wishful thinking, or so say marketing types involved in the sports marketing business. Microsoft's experience with NASCAR dates back to 2001's Ultimate TV program. That program featured a handful of drivers, at-track displays and fan programs in support of a device that allowed the viewer to select television programs on-demand. According to industry sources, Microsoft was not satisfied with the results of that program, and may not be ready to launch new marketing initiatives in the sport.(Ford Racing)(3-20-2003)
- Finding an RJR replacement could be tricky for NASCAR: Over three decades, the name "Winston Cup" has become synonymous with top-level stock-car racing. So why would any company pay millions to be the second act to one of American sports' most enduring sponsorships? "That's one of the challenges that NASCAR's facing in bringing in a replacement sponsor," said William Chipps, senior editor of the IEG Sponsorship Report, a sports industry newsletter. "It's going to take a long time before people stop calling it the Winston Cup." According to an informal survey of sports-business sources, candidates range from the predictable - major fast food chains and soft drink companies - to the unexpected. Dean Bonham, head of Denver's The Bonham Group, believes a financial services or high-technology company would be well-served by the association with NASCAR, which would offer a chance to interact with potential customers in a sophisticated way. Marc Ganis of Chicago's Sportscorp Ltd. leans toward traditional mass marketers, particularly those with a large presence in NASCAR's southeastern stronghold. He named Home Depot and Lowe's, Coca-Cola and Pepsi as natural candidates. And several sources said they see a Wal-Mart deal as unlikely, given that the company has not been known to spend at that level in the sports marketing field. Finally, just as RJR has attributed its decision to leave NASCAR to financial difficulties, similar problems might keep a company like McDonald's from anteing up the tens of millions of dollars NASCAR will expect for the sponsorship. Many have speculated that in the wake of RJR's departure, NASCAR will want to avoid revolving-door sponsors and will rename the series after a top racing figure like Richard Petty or Dale Earnhardt. The series would then be "presented by" a title sponsor.(in part from the Charlotte Observer/AP)(3-5-2003)
- $100 Million? The latest update on the R.J. Reynolds-NASCAR front: According to one very highly placed source, NASCAR officials are looking for a sponsor willing to commit to a 15-year contract for $100 million a year. According to several corporate sources, there is no American company willing to make that kind of commitment. It remains unclear if NASCAR executives have been trying to get Reynolds officials to commit to the $100 million contract.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-14-2003)
- Home Depot not interested in stepping up to replace RJR: Home Depot doesn't plan to increase its commitment to NASCAR, even though the organization is seeking a new title sponsor for the Winston Cup Series. "We enjoy the relationship we have with NASCAR today," said Bob Nardelli, chairman, chief executive and president of Home Depot. "It's at the appropriate level." The Atlanta-based retailer sponsors driver Tony Stewart, the 2002 Winston Cup champion. Former Washington Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs is Stewart's team owner. Last week, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., which makes Winston cigarettes, and NASCAR confirmed that talks have taken place about a change in the title sponsorship. Limits on advertising by cigarette makers and the weak economy have R.J. Reynolds thinking about ending the partnership that started in 1971.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(2-12-2003)
- France talks about RJR AND: NASCAR chairman Bill France says that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.'s announcement that it has given NASCAR permission to look for a new Winston Cup Series sponsor was Reynolds' way of being "a good partner." But, he says, "We have a five-year agreement with them. They've just given us the opportunity to throw our fish line out in the water and see what's out there." Possible sponsors include Coca-Cola, Budweiser, UPS, McDonald's and FedEx.(Sporting News)(2-10-2003)
AND - Things to be worked out with RJR? NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. believes something can be worked out with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company [RJR - Winston], which may end its association with NASCAR when its contract runs out in 2007. The series has been called the Winston Cup since 1971. "We'll get that worked out," France said. "They've been a great partner."(Florida Today)(2-11-2003)
- RJR/Winston Bailing? UPDATE 2: Robin Miller of ESPN.com is reporting that R.J. Reynolds [Winston] is seriously looking at ending its long and rich association with the stock car world after 33 years. This follows by just a few days Union 76's announcement that it would cease its 50-year relationship as NASCAR's official fuel and oil. A top-level source inside the tobacco industry and another source close to the situation said RJR is prepared to shut down this remarkable partnership and that NASCAR is already pursuing a replacement. "There are five years left on the contract, but RJR would walk away as the title sponsor if a suitable replacement could be found," said the source, who requested anonymity. "With all the lawsuits and litigation surrounding the tobacco industry now, Winston feels like it's time to step aside. And NASCAR is actively looking for a new title sponsor." UPS, Coca-Cola and McDonald's are thought to be very interested in hitching their wagon to the marketing monster that has become NASCAR. "We just re-established our relationship with R.J. Reynolds and we look forward to continuing our long-standing and beneficial relationship," said NASCAR vice president of corporate communications Jim Hunter when asked about the possibility of losing NASCAR's sponsorship. Asked if NASCAR had a waiting list of potential title sponsors in the event RJR did bail before its contract expired, Hunter said: "In a hypothetical world, if the need ever came, we think it's a pretty good property." Denny Darnell, senior manager of media relations for Sports Marketing Enterprises, denied the report had any validity. "That would be a shock in that we have a 33-year relationship with NASCAR and we have a multiyear contract with NASCAR," said Darnell, whose agency handles all of RJR's involvement with the series that has exploded into the national consciousness the past decade. The Winston name and logo has been synonymous with NASCAR for 33 years. "Our intentions are to continue to grow with NASCAR in the future." Winston, which ended its sponsorship of the National Hot Rod Association and professional golf in order to comply with the Master Settlement Tobacco Agreement, dropped NASCAR's No Bull 5 Program for 2003 after a five-year run. That was a bonus program that offered $1 million to a driver and a NASCAR fan in five selected events. RJR also continues to sponsor NASCAR's Winston West stock car series.(ESPN)(2-4-2003)
UPDATE - denied: A spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco said Tuesday night that there's no validity to an [ESPN] Internet report saying the company is considering ending its sponsorship of NASCAR's top series after the 2003 season. An ESPN.com story quotes an anonymous source as saying RJR, which has the name of one of its brands of cigarettes on the Winston Cup series, "would walk away if a suitable replacement could be found." But Denny Darnell, senior manager of media relations for Sports Marketing Enterprises, the division of RJR that directs the NASCAR program, said the company isn't looking to leave. "We have just signed a multi-year deal with NASCAR to continue our long-running partnership," Darnell said. "We're looking forward to the 2003 season and beyond." Winston began its sponsorship of NASCAR's top series in 1971 and has spent millions in bonus and points fund money since.(ThatsRacin.com)(2-5-2003)
UPDATE 2 - But: Ned Leary, president of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.'s Sports Marketing Enterprises arm, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon confirming discussions with NASCAR about RJR ending its sponsorship of the Winston Cup series. "Winston and NASCAR have been partners for over 30 years. We signed a five-year contract for the NASCAR Winston Cup series sponsorship last July," Leary said. "Since that time, our business dynamics have changed dramatically. In our ongoing conversations with NASCAR, we have discussed the potential of their exploring a new series sponsor at some time in the future." Leary did not say how serious the talks were or provide a timetable for a possible such changes. "We have always worked with NASCAR and others to do what was in the best interests of this great sport. As the series sponsor, we will continue our work to grow this sport," he said. The statement comes one day after an Internet report claimed RJR was considering ending its sponsorship of NASCAR's top series after the 2003 season. An ESPN.com story quoted an anonymous source as saying RJR, which has the name of one of its cigarette brands on the Winston Cup series, "would walk away if a suitable replacement could be found." Denny Darnell, a spokesman for SME, had said Tuesday that night the company looked forward to a long relationship with NASCAR. Darnell said Wednesday he was not aware of a meeting between RJR and NASCAR officials on the subject when he had said that.(ThatsRacin.com)
AND from NASCAR.com: The Winston Cup in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series may be gone after 2003. The R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company said it has talked with NASCAR about the possibility of the sanctioning body finding another company to become the title sponsor of stock-car racing's top division. Last July, RJR signed a five-year agreement to continue as the backer of the Winston Cup Series. But times have changed, said Ned Leary, president of Sports Marketing Enterprises, the arm of RJR that handles NASCAR sponsorship. The news is a bombshell in the NASCAR world. RJR has been the title sponsor since 1971, when the company came into the sport as manufacturers were leaving. Many have considered Winston to be a saving grace to NASCAR, establishing a points fund and pumping millions of dollars into the sport. Winston Cup has become synonymous with NASCAR in the years since. Last week, Winston announced an increase in its season-ending points fund to $17 million, with the Winston Cup champion getting $4.25 million. But on Jan. 6, perhaps a sign of things to come, RJR announced it was discontinuing the No Bull 5 program that could have handed out a $1 million bonus to a driver and fan at one of five selected races. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc., the parent company of RJR, announced last week losses in the fourth quarter of 2002. The company lost $59 million in the final three months, as opposed to an $89 million profit in the same span of 2001. The company blamed increased spending on promotions on the losses, saying it needed to spend more to compete with other tobacco companies both large and small. The company also had a $224 million restructuring charge for the elimination of 635 jobs and the proposed sale of two businesses, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. RJR also had a loss in the first quarter of 2002, and profits for the entire year were down compared to 2001. Leary set no timetable for when Winston could leave the sport. "We have always worked with NASCAR and others to do what was in the best interest of this great sport," Leary said. "As the series sponsor, we will continue our work to grow this sport."(NASCAR.com)(2-5-2003)