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    DEC 6-12, 2004

      News and Rumors from December 12, 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)

      News and Rumors from December 11, 2004

    • Congrats: #21 Wood Brothers crew chief Fatback McSwain and his wife Deanna have a "babyback". Makayla Ann McSwain was born at 7:30pm/et on Friday, Dec 10th and weighs 8lbs, 1oz.(12-11-2004)

    • Bliss to keep #0 Gig? UPDATE: hearing that Mike Bliss will shed the interim driver tag and be the full-time #0 NetZero Chevy driver in 2005, supposedly the team will have a new major associate sponsor also.(12-2-2004)
      UPDATE: Former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Mike Bliss will return to the Nextel Cup Series in 2005 with Haas CNC Racing. Bliss announced his three-year deal to drive the #0 NetZero Chevrolet for owner Gene Haas during the Busch Series Award Ceremony on Friday. The deal with Haas marks Bliss' first full-time ride in the Cup series since 2000, when the 1993 USAC Silver Crown champion had a rough go of it after posting five consecutive top-10 points finishes in the Craftsman Truck Series. After starting the season for A.J. Foyt, making the Daytona 500 but then hitting a dry spell that led to his release, Bliss made 25 Cup starts in 2000, with one top-10 finish. Bliss' career best Cup finish, fourth, came in a Gibbs Racing car in September at Richmond. He said he has three tests planned with Haas CNC before Christmas.(NASCAR.com)(12-11-2004)

    • Not NASCAR But - ASA Gone? The final chapter in the American Speed Association's history may take place as early as next week when the sanctioning body files for bankruptcy. Sources have told RacingOne during the 17th annual Performance Racing Industry trade show that the troubled ASA will formally file for bankruptcy in the coming days. Neither a series sponsor or potential buyer has been found to save the ASA from finally going under. Series president Steve Dale had promised an answer as to the series' future by December 1st, a deadline that came and passed without any official announcement. Most all of the ASA's in-house staff was laid off weeks ago and only a skeleton crew remains in the sanctioning body's Pendleton, Indiana headquarters.(RacingOne)(12-11-2004)

    • Short Track Racing Summit Continues: The Short Track Racing Summit, a coalition of short track and weekly racing industry leaders, forged even stronger ties for the second straight day at the Orleans Arena. Motorsports' largest seminar/trade show combination continued Friday with a series of idea-provoking presentations from leaders in the industry.
      "Our goal is to rise above the level of mediocrity, and take short track and weekly racing to a new level of excellence," said Don Hawk, NASCAR Director of Regional Racing Development, as he opened the day's activities. "By sharing ideas, by working together and by utilizing this coalition, we can make short track and weekly racing the best it can possibly be."
      NASCAR, the only sanctioning body to have fully supported weekly short track racing at a grassroots level throughout its 56 years, is among the many sponsors of the inaugural Short Track Racing Summit through Saturday at the Orleans Arena. A number of different sanctioning bodies and dozens of tracks nationwide are taking part. The ongoing diversity initiative with NASCAR played a major role in Friday's session with Tish Sheets, Director of Diversity and Special Projects for NASCAR, talking with the participants, discussing not just the steps NASCAR has made but suggested steps individual short tracks can make.
      "Initiatives on and off the track are vital to making these programs work," Sheets said. "The recruitment and development of drivers is a great step. But internships and supplier diversity, and areas such as the Urban Youth School, are very important as well."
      Ten track operators from throughout the country shared their top promotions from the 2004 season with the several hundred participants. They discussed not just ideas but how to implement things such as sales kits, key cross promotions, fan appreciation nights, advance ticket sales and the development of new fans to motorsports. Jack Arute, long-time ABC Television and national radio reporter, led a discussion concerning publicity and promotions for short tracks and weekly tracks. He offered methods for developing greater coverage for short track racing, especially with electronic media.
      "By being creative and taking the initiative, you can do things with media that would never have been considered by track operators just a few years ago," Arute told participants before offering a myriad of ways to do just that. The seminar covered public relations and publicity for electronic and print media most of the afternoon. This is a new and exciting way to bring together these business people, so key to our sport, and make our industry stronger and better," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR Vice President of Communications/Regional Touring/Dodge Weekly Racing Series. "What other industry, in sports or in anything else, could do that and freely exchange ways to make each speedway better?" Hunter said. "Nobody is talking 'proprietary information' here. Each person recognizes that for every short track or weekly speedway that is made stronger the entire sport gets stronger - and that's great for all of us. This could only happen in motorsports."(Williams Company PR)(12-11-2004)

    • DodgeVision is coming to selected short tracks in 2005: NASCAR's Director of Regional Racing Development Don Hawk told XM Satellite NASCAR Radio's Claire B. Lang during a broadcast from the Short Track Summit in Last Vegas that a deal has been struck with NASCAR's television partners that will allow jumbo television screens to show NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, Busch, or Truck races at short tracks next year on Saturday nights. Hawk says the deal will start with six to eight short tracks and will give track operators concerned that Saturday night NEXTEL Cup, Busch, and Craftsman Truck Series races have hurt them at the gate, an exciting option in the trial stages. Irwindale Speedway and River Head in New York are two of the tracks expected to participate. According to Hawk, "fans can be sitting there watching their favorite driver, or their son or their daughter racing on Saturday night at a short track, and up on the big screen will be the race live from Bristol. Our hope is that they will stay around longer so when the (short track) races are over live, they still get the rest of the show to watch on DodgeVision." The reaction from track operators has been positive according to Hawk. He said "it's like a provisional in a car race. You know everybody wants one, and sooner or later everyone needs one."("Dialed In" with Claire B. Lang XM Satellite NASCAR Radio)(12-11-2004)

      News and Rumors from December 10, 2004

    • OFFICIAL Kvapil In - Gaughan Out: Penske-Jasper Racing, which fields the #77 Kodak EasyShare Dodge Charger in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, today announced that 2003 NASCAR Truck Series Champion Travis Kvapil will be the team's driver and will compete for Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year honors in 2005. Travis succeeds Brendan Gaughan, who drove the Kodak car during the 2004 season. Kvapil participated in a development program during 2004 with Penske Racing and competed in three Nextel Cup Series races-Martinsville, Atlanta and Homestead. "Travis showed solid potential and demonstrated the skill and determination it takes to be a winner and we look forward to building on this foundation with our sponsor partners Kodak and Jasper." Roger Penske said.
      "Kodak is committed to fielding a winning and successful team in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Racing, and looks forward to leveraging our continued sponsorship and partnership with NASCAR and Penske-Jasper Racing during 2005," said Bud Denker, Vice President, Brand and Market Development. "We are excited to welcome Travis as the driver of the Kodak EasyShare Dodge Charger and feel that his experience in racing and his driving talents will provide our team with the success that we are seeking."
      "The opportunity to drive for Penske-Jasper Racing is more than a dream come true. I have been a fan of Roger Penske since I was a little kid watching Rick Mears. It's a once in a lifetime chance for a young driver and I'm excited to get that opportunity," Kvapil said. "I'm honored to represent Kodak. Their history in NASCAR racing is impressive and they are one of the longest running sponsors in the sport." A Wisconsin native, Kvapil resides in North Carolina with his wife, Jennifer, and their two children.(Penske Racing South PR)(12-9-2004)
      AND Crew chief Shane Wilson, who followed Gaughan from the Craftsman Truck Series, is staying on to work with Kvapil.(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)(12-10-2004)

    • Stewart donates his portion of USG Person of the Year award: #20-Tony Stewart was recognized for his philanthropy by being named NASCAR's 2004 USG Person of theYear. The award, presented to Stewart Dec. 3 at the National Motorsports Press Association's Myers Brothers Breakfast in New York City, is designed to honor NASCAR drivers for their community service contributions and charitable efforts. The annual award carried a $100,000 payment, which was to be split between the winning driver and his charity of choice. However, Stewart once again showcased his charitable compassion by donating the entire amount to Kyle and Pattie Petty's Victory Junction Gang Camp, a facility for chronically ill children located in Randleman, NC.(DMF Communications PR)(12-10-2004)

    • the 100 Most Memorable TV Moments: 20 moments are unveiled each day, thru Friday, Dec 10th, my copy of TV Guide [dated Dec 5-11th] has the Charles and Diana Wed [#16] on the cover, been told there is also a Dale Earnhardt cover. #17 is Earnhardt Dies. No other racing or NASACR event is in the list. #1 is the South Tower Collapses [9-11], #2 is the Moon Landing, #3 is the Challenger Explodes. See more at tvguide.com. Thansk for the TV Guide cover offers, but not looking for one, thanks anyway, the offers are greatly appreciated. For those who wish to purchase the covers, go to shop.tvguide.com.
      See Day 5, moments 1-20 - attvguide.com.(12-8/10-2004)

      News and Rumors from December 9, 2004

    • Star Wars Schemes at Phoenix: #38-Elliott Sadler, #88-Dale Jarrett and #24-Jeff Gordon will celebrate the opening (May 19, 2005) of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith with special paint schemes scheduled to race at Phoenix [April 23rd]. Sadler's M&M's car will feature "The Dark Side" with the M&M's characters dressed up as Darth Vader and other members of the dark side. Jarrett will also have M&M's on his car? and will feature "The Good Side" with characters like R2-D2 and Princess Leia. No word yet on what Gordon will have on his car.(RacingOne)(12-9-2004)
    • NASCAR files suit: NASCAR has filed a lawsuit against an individual and three companies involved with a pornographic video called Racetrack Girls Go Nutz for trademark and service mark infringement. NASCAR filed the suit Monday after learning that Daystrike Marketing Inc. was distributing flyers and advertisements for the video with NASCAR logos. The flyers also were soliciting investors for Consolidated Sports Media Group Inc., based in Addison, which is involved in financing the video.(Fort Worth Star Telegram)(12-9-2004)

    • Sadlers win Spirit Award: Elliott and Hermie Sadler, named fourth-quarter winners of the NMPA/Pocono Spirit Award, working in conjunction with the Henrico County (Va.) Economic Development Authority, will host a fundraising benefit on Sunday to aid The Faison School for Autism and the Henrico County Christmas Mother Program. Both Richmond-area charities will receive all the proceeds from the day-long event that will allow fans to race go-karts, bowl and interact with the Sadlers. The Henrico County Christmas Mother Program is a volunteer group that provides help to those in need during the holiday season. Approximately 4,000 children, elderly and disabled residents are assisted each year in Henrico County through this program. All money donated to The Faison School for Autism will help reduce tuition costs for families in need who have children at the school. The NMPA/Pocono Spirit Award recognizes character and achievement in the face of adversity as well as sportsmanship and contributions to Motorsports. Each quarter during the year the National Motorsports Press Association names a winner of the Spirit Award. Each January, the NMPA and Pocono International Raceway honor one of the four quarter winners at its national convention. Earlier this year, Elliott hosted a charity event, the Race For Hope that raised more than $80,000. The Sadlers join Ken Patterson, Kyle and Pattie Petty and Tommy Baldwin Jr. as the quarterly winners of this year's award.(Ford Racing)(12-9-2004)

    • Brian France Honored: NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian France has received the Dick Schaap Lifetime Achievement in Sports Award from the Greater New York Chapter of the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. France was honored at the foundation's annual Michael S. Modell Awards Dinner. France announced a $100,000 donation to the foundation during last week’s dinner.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-9-2004)

    • Kerry Earnhardt tests truck at Talladega, will run #33 there in spring: Kerry Earnhardt, 34, the eldest son of Talladega Superspeedway's top winner Dale Earnhardt, will drive the #15 Chevrolet owned by Billy Ballew in the Craftsman Truck Series next year. The team hopes to run a full season, but is still working on sponsorships, Earnhardt said. Dale Earnhardt, Inc. will supply the team with engines, as it did last year when driver Shane Hmeil brought its first victory in Las Vegas. Although the truck series does not compete at Talladega, Earnhardt said fans can expect to see him behind the wheel of the #33 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet owned by Richard Childress again here in 2005. Childress, who found unparalleled success as team owner for Earnhardt's late father, fielded the cars in both Talladega events last year, and Earnhardt said they plan to work with the sponsor to do it again next year. He also expects to be in the car at Daytona.(Talladega Superspeedway PR)(12-9-2004)

      News and Rumors from December 8, 2004

    • Buy a Tree for Dale: If you’re looking for a truly unique gift for that special someone this holiday season, you can now give them their very own Sycamore or Tulip Poplar tree growing kit from Dale Earnhardt’s North Carolina farm, or you can plant trees in their honor in the Dale Earnhardt Forest. In April 2004, The Dale Earnhardt Foundation and American Forests announced a partnership under which the Foundation will provide American Forests with an initial grant in support of plans to establish the Dale Earnhardt Forest . The initial phase of this national project will be the planting of 77,000 trees to restore Charlotte-Mecklenburg County area forests damaged by storm, disease and development. The new trees will provide substantial environmental benefits such as cleaner air, erosion control and wildlife habitat. More info at the DEI Site.(I placed my order to do both and will plant my new tree/seeds on my property.(12-8-2004)

    • So What is Ernie Irvan up to? Irvan helped form Race 2 Safety which plans to make a positive difference in the lives of men, women and children across America by informing and educating them about the latest transportation-related head protection equipment and technologies and actively promoting the everyday use of such equipment. Race 2 Safety works closely with safety equipment manufacturers, head injury prevention and treatment associations, as well as state and federal transportation safety organizations to help dramatically reduce the number of transportation-related traumatic brain injuries that occur every year. See more at race2safety.com.(12-8-2004)

    • Helton Chat: some highlights from an ESPN Insider [a paid subscription service] chat with NASCAR President Mike Helton:
      On the rumored 'return' of the Southern 500: "only the 2005 schedule is set."
      More points for winning or a pole? "Traditionally points have only been awarded for race positions. But we continually think about new options."
      Penalties: " I think we currently are satisfied with our reaction to violations. I don't see us changing from using points as part of the penalty.."
      Pit road speeding: "we are working on the introduction of electronic timing hardware and software, possibly as early as the '05 season."
      Lucky Dog rule? "We have found there are more supporters of the free pass than opponents. But we are looking at any tweaking that might improve it.(ESPN.com Insider)(12-8-2004)

    • More Wine: Jeff Gordon will market a series of upscale wines under a label bearing his own name. Gordon said the first wine, a 2004 Carneros Chardonnay, will be available in October 2005. Two red wines, a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and a Napa Valley Merlot, also of the 2004 vintage, will be released after proper aging, in January 2007.(Gordonline.com)(12-8-2004)

    • Checkers in...McDonalds out: Checkers Drive-In Restaurants will take over next year as a fast-food sponsor for NASCAR, replacing longtime corporate partner McDonald's Corp., the Sports Business Daily reported Tuesday. The Tampa-based chain, which has more than 400 locations primarily in the Southeast, will join deli sandwich chain Subway in replacing McDonald's, which has been connected with NASCAR since 1993. Checkers is relatively small compared with the Golden Arches, yet its Southern roots match those of the stock-car racing league. The company's sister chain, Rally's (with another 389 restaurants, mostly in the Midwest), will likely also gain NASCAR rights. Checkers previously signed racing sponsorship deals making it the "official burger" of both the Brickyard 400 and Indianapolis 500. It also has sponsorships with professional and college sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, University of Florida and Florida State University. McDonald's will remain connected with NASCAR in a different capacity. It will continue to leverage the sport with a soon-to-be-assembled collection of teams, tracks and drivers. "We are definitely not leaving the sport," a McDonald's insider told the Sports Business Daily. "We'll just be using different assets."(Tampa Bay Business Journal)(12-8-2004)

    • Season TV Ratings up 2%: Final figures show the average rating for all Nextel Cup races this year rose 2% to 5.0, Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal reports. Staff writer Andy Bernstein says most of the gain was attributable to a jump in the 10 races that made up the Chase For The Nextel Cup. Those races averaged a 4.6 household rating, up from 4.1 last year, although last year's figures were lowered because of a rain delay in one of the races. Bernstein reports that demographic breakdowns show that the ratings for men 18 to 34 fell from 2.9 to 2.8 this year, while the figures for men 18 to 49 remained at 4.1.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-8-2004)

    • Ford signs Bobby East: In a move designed to help advance his career long-term, 19-year-old USAC National Midget Car Series Champion Bobby East has signed a long-term contract with Ford Racing Technology. East, son of legendary USAC team owner and car builder Bob East, became the youngest USAC National champion in the organization's 49-year history when he captured seven feature victories and 21 top-10 finishes on the way to the 2004 National Midget crown. "We are thrilled to have signed Bobby to a long-term contract with Ford," said Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology. "He's a very impressive driver who has shown a tremendous amount of talent, ability and success at a very young age. We look forward to working together with Bobby to provide him opportunities to help him realize that same success long-term in NASCAR." Davis said East will continue to run at least one more season in the USAC National Midget Car Series and the USAC Silver Crown series, while Ford arranges for him to test a variety of NASCAR race vehicles, with an eye on moving eventually to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.(Ford Racing PR)(12-8-2004)

    • Evernham signs Crocker to development deal: Evernham Motorsports announced that it has signed sprint-car star Erin Crocker to a development deal that will allow the hottest young female driver in racing to compete next year in the Silver Crown, ARCA and NASCAR Busch Series. Crocker, the first female to win a World of Outlaws race, caught the attention of Ray Evernham and Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year Kasey Kahne for her performance in open wheel racing. Evernham Motorsports partnered with Kasey Kahne Motorsports and has signed Crocker to an agreement that involves her running the Silver Crown Series in a Kasey Kahne Motorsports car, along with three Busch races and three ARCA races in an Evernham Dodge. Sponsors for the program have not yet been announced. “This is like a dream come true,” said Erin Crocker. “When Ray Evernham called, I was considering several options. But once that phone rang, my mind was made up. It is an unbelievable opportunity to race for him – if you consider what he done with other rookies such as Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne. This is a chance for me to learn as much as I can, in several different types of cars, from the best in the business. I get to race with a team that focuses on innovation and inspiration, and drive for a leader who puts teamwork, engineering and technology first. It’s absolutely incredible.” Crocker has already moved to Charlotte, N.C. to prepare for her intensive training program. When not racing, Crocker likes to participate in outdoor sports, shop and spend time with her friends and family.(Evernham Motorsports/Clear!Blue PR)(12-8-2004)

    • Campbell joins Keith Coleman Racing as Mark Green’s Busch crew chief: Kenneth Campbell, a long-time crew chief and veteran of Nascar, has been named as crew chief for the #26 Chevrolet Monte Carlo for the 2005 season. Campbell has 15 years of experience as a crew chief and has been involved in the world of racing for 23 years. His first crew chief position came at Laughlin Racing Products, where he served as crew chief from 1989 – 1994. Since that time Campbell has led five different race teams as crew chief, including Jay Robinson Racing and Brewco Motorsports. He also spent two years as a NASCAR Busch Series Official “I think there is a real opportunity here,” said Campbell. “I’ve been watching KCR for the past six months or so and I’ve been very impressed with what they have accomplished.” The team will run the full NASCAR Busch Series schedule in addition to a partial Nextel Cup schedule beginning in the summer of 2005. A sponsorship announcement for both series is expected in the near future. Campbell, who has worked with driver Mark Green before, said the bond that the two share was an important consideration in his decision to join KCR and would be instrumental in the future success of the team.(KCR PR)(12-8-2004)

    • Born on Date Scheme returns at Daytona UPDATE: #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will return with another Bud Born on Date paint scheme at Daytona in February.(RacingOne)(12-7-2004)
      UPDATE: been told that the scheme will not be at Daytona?(12-8-2004)

    • Testing at Nashville UPDATE: #19-Jeremy Mayfield and #32-Bobby Hamilton, Jr are scheduled to test at the Nashville Superspeedway Tuesday, December 7.(Nashville Superspeedway PR)(12-5-2004)
      UPDATE: #19-Mayfield and #9-Kasey Kahne tested at Nashville Superspeedway, but #32-Bobby Hamilton cancelled.(12-8-2004)

    • Sam Bass Holiday Open House Dec. 11th: The Fifth Annual Sam Bass Gallery Holiday Open House is just around the corner. This year's fanfest is scheduled for Saturday, December 11, from 10:am - 5:00pm/et. Open House has become one of their favorite holiday traditions, and we've been working to make 2004 our biggest and best yet. They'll have door prizes and refreshments throughout the day and Sam will be on hand to sign autographs. "I always look forward to our Holiday Open House," Sam Bass said. "I really enjoy seeing all of the race fans and sharing in the excitement the Christmas season brings." NASCAR fans can add to their collections -- and get in a little Christmas shopping -- with a host of holiday specials. Many of Bass' latest creations will be showcased, including the 2004 Happy Holidays die-cast car and this year's holiday print, entitled "Ready To Jingle!" Also available will be his new book, "The NASCAR Art of Sam Bass," along with a new line of tapestry throws adorned with some of his artwork. Original paintings, limited edition prints, fine art posters, and a broad selection of other gift items will also be featured. They're bound to have something for the NASCAR fan on your Christmas list.
      Santa Claus is coming to town-and he's making the Sam Bass Gallery one of his first stops! The Sam Bass Holiday Open House is a yuletide gathering that the jolly old elf himself looks forward to each year. And so that everyone has a Merry Christmas, photos with Santa (between 11:00am - 1:00pm/et) will be available for only $5, with proceeds benefiting Cooperative Christian Ministry (CCM).
      Admission to the Fifth Annual Sam Bass Gallery Open House is absolutely free. However, they'd like to ask our visitors to bring at least one non-perishable food item to help re-stock the CCM food pantry. Each family donating food will receive a gift (artist's choice) -- along with the priceless feeling of knowing you've helped someone else along the way. Last year, they collected more than 1200 pounds of food.
      The Sam Bass Gallery is located at the corner of Morehead Road and Performance Drive in Concord. That's within sight of Lowe's Motor Speedway's Turn Two. For more information, call (704) 455-6915 or visit the Sam Bass Gallery on the web at www.sambass.com.(12-8-2004)

      News and Rumors from December 7, 2004

    • Roush plans to run the #99 for the full season: #99 Ford team owner, Jack Roush, says he is committed to running the #99 Ford and Carl Edwards for the full Nextel Cup schedule in 2005. Roush doesn't have a full-time sponsor for the team and is still looking and has half of a season worth of sponorship signed up for the car and says he can afford to run the full season.(PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show)(12-7-2004)

    • Finley named #22 Crew Chief: Bill Davis Racing has named Derrick Finley Crew Chief for the #22 Caterpillar Dodge driven by Scott Wimmer. Finley, who earned his mechanical engineering degree from the University of New Mexico in 1995, has served as the team's Race Engineer since August of 2003. Prior to joining Bill Davis Racing, Finley worked with Dale Earnhardt Incorporated for several years until he moved on to Travis Carter's operation in 2000. "We're very pleased to have Derrick step up to this role. He's been a part of the team for quite some time now, so he is familiar with our operation as well as what Scott needs in a car", said owner, Bill Davis. "Originally, we had planned on bringing a new Crew Chief on during the off-season but when we saw the chemistry that Derrick, Scott and the team enjoyed during the final races of the season we knew it would be shame to ignore that".(BDR / Keystone Marketing PR)(12-7-2004)

    • PA NASCAR Plates: Big news for Pennsylvania Race Fans. Here is your chance to have specialty NASCAR driver’s license plates to support your favorite driver and the Victory Junction Gang Camp. Application forms for the new Pennsylvania NASCAR driver’s license plates will be available in mid-August [2005?] through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. For more information, please call 866-301-2268.(Victory Junction Gang site) Under the new Specialty Plate Program, Pennsylvania will soon issue at least 32 different NASCAR plates. The cost will be $54, with $20 going to PennDOT and $34 to Victory Junction Gang Camp. Pennsylvania Race Fans Can Support Camp with Special License Plate. Didn't see them yet listed or the form on the PA Motor Vehicles Page, for other states and info on NASCAR License Plates, see www.raceplates.com.(12-7-2004)

    • Be part of a racing reality show: America’s Top Driver will combine the excitement of motorsports, with a unique made-for-television entertainment platform as it searches for the next racecar driver to get a shot at the big time, and a chance at a $1,000,000 grand prize. Joined by current and former motorsports greats, America’s Top Driver will hit all demographic groups as it gives talented young men and women the opportunity to prove themselves on the race track, and earn the title “America’s Top Driver”. More info at Americas Top Driver Racing Series
      AND NASCAR Champion Cale Yarborough has joined the company, and will serve as Director of the Idea Motorsports Division, and as a television analyst for its upcoming America's Top Driver Racing Series, scheduled to be televised weekly during its inaugural racing season.(Idea Sports Entertainment Group)(12-7-2004)

    • Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr. up for award: National Speed Sport News, the country's oldest weekly auto racing publication, recently announced the finalists for the Economaki Champion of Champions Award presented by Rockett Brand Racing Fuel. The award recognizes the "best of the best" of the season's series champions. Finalists for the 2004 Economaki Champion of Champions Award presented by Rockett Brand Racing Fuel are: Sebastien Bourdais, Champ Car; Kurt Busch, NASCAR Nextel Cup; Bobby East, USAC midgets; Anderson, NHRA Pro Stock; Tony Kanaan, Indy Racing League; Steve Kinser, World of Outlaws; Scott Bloomquist, World of Outlaws Late Models; Fred Rahmer, open wheel; Schumacher, NHRA Top Fuel; and Martin Truex, Jr., NASCAR Busch Series. The finalists will be featured in the December 8th PRI Show issue of National Speed Sport News.
      From this group of champions, a winner will be selected based on overall racing ability, sportsmanship and command of the sport - both on and off the track. The award presentation will take place during the 17th annual Performance Racing Industry trade show in Indianapolis, Ind., at the National Speed Sport News booth (#8140 - Hall A) at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 9, 2004.
      The Economaki Champion of Champions Award is named in honor of Chris Economaki, the world's best-known reporter of the auto racing scene and legendary motorsports broadcaster. He served as publisher of National Speed Sport News for more than 50 years in addition to a 23-year run broadcasting races for ABC Sports, followed by 10 years with CBS. He now does occasional hosting for ESPN, SPEED Channel and other TV networks.
      Dave Argabright, National Speed Sport News columnist and accomplished author, will present the Economaki Champion of Champions Award presented by Rockett Brand Racing Fuel. A broadcast of the event will air during the inaugural 2005 episode of Wind Tunnel on SPEED Channel. Following the award presentation, the winner will be available to the media for photographs and interviews.(NHRA.com)(12-7-2004)

    • Lots of special schemes for McMurray in 2005: #42-Jamie McMurray will race five different Texaco/Havoline "Shine On" paint schemes in 2005. McMurray will drive the first special paint scheme at Texas on April 17.(RacingOne)(12-7-2004)

    • Hero times two: Larry Hicks, who dove into a pond to save NASCAR team owner Jack Roush after his plane crashed into the water two years ago, recently saved a second man, hunter Roy Stewart, who had fallen out of a tree stand and was hanging upside down 30 feet above ground.(Alabama Live)(12-7-2004)

    • Hammond and Darby at Show: The 17th annual Performance Racing Industry Trade Show will be held this Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 9-11, in the Indiana Convention Center & RCA Dome, in Indianapolis. More than 40,000 racing entrepreneurs from 40 countries are expected to attend, and more than 1,300 manufacturers of hardcore racing products exhibit in the show in 3,100 booths. It is the world’s largest auto racing trade show. In order to see all of the exhibits and new products at this year’s PRI Trade Show, attendees are encouraged to make their travel arrangements to shop all three days of the show. Also, special pre-show events make Wednesday a “must” as well! On the afternoon of Wednesday, Dec. 8, the Industry Roundtable will take place from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. in the Marriott Ballroom across Maryland Street from the Convention Center. NASCAR’s Jeff Hammond returns as the moderator, overseeing a panel of motorsports experts and racing veterans. including IRL team owner Eddie Cheever; Nextel Cup series director John Darby; NHRA vice president of marketing Gary Darcy; Irwindale Speedway COO/GM Bob DeFazio; Del West Europe managing director Bruno Engelric; Sonny’s Racing Engines owner Sonny Leonard, plus a few other guests.(more info about the show at the Speed Channel site)(12-7-2004)

    • Ebersol and son released: Dick Ebersol and his son Charlie were discharged today from St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction, Colo., and are continuing their recuperation.(NBC Universal PR)(12-7-2004)

      News and Rumors from December 6, 2004

    • Bestwick and Weber switch? UPDATE: hearing that NBC play-by-play broadcaster, Allen Bestwick will switch spots with War-Wagon Pre-race host and lead pit reporter Bill Weber in 2005 for the NBC/TNT televised races. Bestwick would act as a host and handle the War-Wagon and interviews and Weber would handle the play-by-play/anchor of the race. Weber subbed for an injured Bestwick at Kansas and Talladega, when Bestwick broke his leg. No idea if Bestwick would handle pit road reporting, of if NBC/TNT would hire a 4th person or just go with three as they did when Bestwick was out.(12-2-2004)
      UPDATE: being told by a few TV sources that this is true and will happen.(12-6-2004)

    • Appalachian State University Receives Petty Racing Collection: Lynda Petty, wife of stock car racing legend Richard Petty, has donated a large collection of materials documenting her husband's career to the Appalachian State University Libraries Stock Car Racing Collection. The donation, which covers 1958-2003, includes newspaper and magazine articles, fan letters, scrapbooks, promotional and charitable materials, awards of recognition, photographs, books, and race programs. During his long and successful driving career (1958-1992), Petty won seven NASCAR Winston [Netxtel] Cup championships and holds the record for most victories, with 200. Known affectionately as "the King," he won the Most Popular Driver award nine times. Since his retirement in 1992, Petty has remained involved in racing. He owns Petty Enterprises, which fields entrants in NASCAR's Nextel Cup, Busch Series, and Craftsman Truck Series. The Petty family has been in the racing business for four generations; Richard's father Lee was a three time Cup champion, and his son Kyle and grandson Adam followed in the family tradition. The donation is currently being inventoried and organized for public use, and there are plans to produce a Web page with finding aids detailing the contents of the Petty collection. The Stock Car Racing Collection, located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains where the sport was born, is the only library in the country open to the public that focuses specifically on stock car racing. It contains more than 500 books, periodicals, and videos; an extensive clippings file covering more than 1300 subjects; photographs; posters; and promotional materials. Financial and material donations are welcomed. For more information go to: appstate.edu.(Carrick PR)(12-6-2004)

    • Score Motorsports Selling Busch team: SCORE Motorsports, owned by Hermie Sadler and retired NBA player Bryant Stith, announced that they have decided to sell their NASCAR Busch Series team. Sadler and Stith will continue to field a NEXTEL Cup Series team and a Late Model Stock Car team as part of the Drive For Diversity program in 2005. "We have been unable to find the type of funding we need to grow the Busch team," Sadler said. "We have looked at many options, including joining forces with another team and also participating in a driver development program. At the end of the day, our best option is to sell the Busch Series team to someone who can continue to grow it and for us to focus our attention on the NEXTEL Cup team. We will have an announcement on our NEXTEL Cup Series team in the next three weeks." The Busch Series team consists of several complete race cars, engines and many parts and pieces. Serious parties can contact SCORE Motorsports at 804-586-8215 and receive additional information. The SCORE Motorsports Busch Series team is 25th in owners points headed into the 2005 season.(Score Motorsports PR)(12-6-2004)

    • SKF to RCR? UPDATE: hearing longtime #99 Roush Racing Asscoiate sponsor, SKF, will move over to the #31 Cingular Wireless Chevy that Jeff Burton will drive in 2005 and the other RCR teams [#07, #29]. Burton had driven the #99 Ford since its inception.(12-5-2004)
      UPDATE: SKF announced the expansion of its NASCAR NEXTEL Cup involvement, signing a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Richard Childress Racing (RCR). With the start of the 2005 NASCAR season, SKF will hold sponsorship positions on the #07 of Dave Blaney, the #29 of Kevin Harvick and the #31 of Jeff Burton. Additionally, the agreement includes a technical partnership between RCR and SKF engineers. Both parties will communicate worldwide to develop new technologies focused toward building on RCR’s racing performance, as well as new products intended to increase the safety and performance of consumer vehicles. For the past seven seasons, SKF has utilized its NASCAR involvement to promote its products, services and industry activities. SKF actively communicates the messages of the Be Car Care Aware Campaign and the Right to Repair Act through its NASCAR relationships.(SKF PR) and a note on the SKF site.(12-6-2004)

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