2007 MISC NASCAR NEWS, RULES CHANGES & INFORMATION
- 2007 Crash Data: Accidents and spins soared during the 2007 NASCAR Chase for the Nextel Cup, USA TODAY database research shows. Fueled by a track-record number of cautions in races at Martinsville Speedway (21) and Atlanta Motor Speedway (14), a total of 89 incidents were recorded — the most since NASCAR's 10-race playoff was instituted in 2004 — and a 14.1% increase from last year's 78 crashes and spins. A total of 240 accidents/spins were recorded during the 2007 season, the most since 253 incidents in 2005. #6-David Ragan is listed with the most at 22; then #7-Robby Gordon with 16. #29-Kevin Harvick had the least of the drivers running all 36 races, with 3.(see full story and database at USA Today)(12-20-2007)
- Construction begins on NASCAR office tower: Lauth Property Group has begun erecting the steel for the 20-story NASCAR Plaza office tower next to the planned NASCAR Hall of Fame uptown on Caldwell Street. Company officials said construction of the first floor will take about five weeks, but after that the building will rise at the rate of a floor a week. The 390,000-square-foot "green" building is to open in March 2009, about a year ahead of the NASCAR museum. The office building is poised to be the first one occupied among more than a half dozen new office projects under way in the center city. NASCAR Images and NASCAR Licenses will occupy about a third of the space. The rest is available for lease.(Charlotte Observer)(12-18-2007)
- NASCAR Arcade? The Larson family of Rapid City [South Dakota] has long been a business family. Kevin and Deb Larson, and their sons Jeff and Tyler Larson, owned and operated the Cellular Center in Rapid City. When the family decided they needed a change, they got out of the retail cell phone business. Kevin asked his sons if they had any ideas for a new business venture. “The boys said NASCAR,” Kevin recalled.? They did their homework, crunched some numbers and came up with the idea for Heartland Entertainment, a new NASCAR-themed family arcade on Cambell Street in Rapid City. It’s scheduled to open Dec. 18. It will have pool tables, 70 arcade games, a small food court and a shop where you can buy NASCAR memorabilia and NASCAR merchandise. But the attraction that will likely get the most attention is along the back wall of the shop. Four shiny NASCAR race cars ?” on a scale that is 80 percent of the real thing ?” stand side by side. They’re high-tech NASCAR simulators designed to give arcade drivers the sights, sound and sensation of actually being in a car race. From behind the wheel, you have a 135-degree view of the racetrack projected onto three screens. You also have a gear shifter, gas pedal, brake pedal and a small monitor. Each of the four cars is mounted on a hydraulic system, so when another virtual driver bumps your car, it shakes and shudders as if it were really hit. The Larsons are promoting Heartland Entertainment as a family entertainment center. There’s no smoking and no alcohol.(Rapid City Journal)(12-18-2007)
- Camping World to sponsor developmental series: Camping World, the country's largest RV and outdoor retailer, will become the title sponsor for NASCAR's top developmental series -- the long-standing Grand National Division, East and West Series. As the new title sponsor, Camping World looks to continue the tradition of developing talented young drivers that aspire to go on and excel in the highest levels of NASCAR racing. Recent enhancements to the series included a schedule with an expanded geographic reach, new competition and cost-containment initiatives such as the new "spec engine" and composite body, and a lowered age-limit to 16 for drivers. Through the years the series has helped launch the careers of Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and David Gilliland, along with two-time championship crew chief Greg Zipadelli.(NASCAR.com)(12-17-2007)
- Jim Hunter receives lifetime achievement award: The International Conference on Sport and Entertainment Business has presented NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter with its Lifetime Achievement in Sport and Entertainment Award. Hunter, the vice president of corporate communications/regional touring/NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series, has worked in the motorsports industry since 1968. He previously was president of Darlington Raceway. He also served as sports editor for The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., and a writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has also written books on stock-car racing, University of South Carolina football and youth league football. He attended the University of South Carolina, where he was a three-year letterman in football and a two-year letterman in baseball. "Jim Hunter exemplifies a world-class 'Carolina' gentleman whose career has produced a passion for NASCAR, love of family, respect of colleagues and friends with a humbleness that should be a model for us all," said Dr. Tom Regan of the Department of Sport and Entertainment Management. The Lifetime Achievement in Sport and Entertainment Award recognizes an industry veteran for achievements of lasting impact over a number of years in the fields of sport, entertainment or venue management. He or she embodies the professionalism, commitment to excellence and business savvy that has propelled sport, entertainment or venue management to become a key industry in the 21st century.(SceneDaily.com)(12-12-2007)
- France's to switch jobs? UPDATE: from a Robin Miller article on SPEEDtv.com - Jim France moving into the Big Chair [CEO of NASCAR?] and nephew Brian [France] going to Grand-Am?(SPEEDtv.com)(10-20-2007)
UPDATE: NASCAR chairman Brian France said Sunday he is in the sport for the long haul. Recent reports also indicated Brian might step down and have his uncle, Jim France, take over as chairman. Jim is the vice chairman and executive vice president of NASCAR. He also is the CEO of International Speedway Corp., a public company that owns 12 tracks where NASCAR races. "I'm committed to my job for the foreseeable future," Brian France said. "That's years, not months. And my family is absolutely committed. We are not interested in selling NASCAR or International Speedway Corporation." Jim is the brother of Bill France Jr., the former NASCAR chairman who died earlier this year. Lesa France Kennedy, Brian's sister, is the president of ISC and a member of NASCAR's board of directors. "Our management team, from [president] Mike Helton on down, is the best in sports," France said. "My sister, my uncle and myself, we're all committed. The fact that we lost our father this year may be where some of this [speculation] comes from."(ESPN.com)(11-19-2007)
- NASCAR NOT for sale MORE: NASCAR says speculation that its family-owned company is for sale to the same European private equity firm that owns the Formula One group is "unequivocally false." A recent report in the racing business newsletter The Business of Motorsport, suggested that CVC Capital Partners, which manages funds internationally totaling more than $23.7 billion, was the "most-likely buyer" of NASCAR, Inc. from the France family. NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston, quoting a conversation he had on the matter with chairman Brian France, said France's reaction was an emphatic no. "[France said] It's a dead end story that has nothing remotely accurate," Poston said. "I spoke with Brian. NASCAR is not for sale." CVC representatives, reached in the company's New York office Friday, chose not to comment on the matter. CVC Capital Partners opened its first US office in Manhattan in March "to expand its American business," and already has purchased the luggage company Samsonite for $1.7 billion. CVC also recently bought the GP2 racing series for $300 million, and the report states that speculation has surfaced that they're also contemplating purchasing the sanctioning body that owns the Dakar Rally and Tour de France cycle race.(Marty Smith/ESPN.com)(11-18-2007)
MORE: NASCAR chairman Brian France said Sunday that NASCAR is not for sale. A recent report stated that a European investment firm was interested in buying NASCAR from the France family. France was asked if NASCAR had received inquiries about selling the company. "All the time," he said. "But we don't take the inquiries and don't have meetings with private equity firms. I can't be any clearer than that, but I'll say as directly as I can that NASCAR is not for sale."(ESPN.com)(11-19-2007)
- France: no changes planned for Chase: NASCAR Chairman Brian France said he doesn't anticipate any big tweaks for the Chase For The Nextel Cup format for next season as a pair of Hendrick Motorsports drivers have broken away from the 12-driver pack compete for the title. France, speaking after being a panelist Friday at a business summit at Phoenix International Raceway, said he was happy with the format, which seeded drivers for the Chase based on wins and also added five more points for a win week to week. He was especially pleased with Jimmie Johnson going for the win last week at Texas, where he earned five more points than he would have a year ago. "It's worked," France said when asked about the bonus points. "We may do a little more of it. What Jimmie Johnson did - I actually called him on the phone and told him, by going after that win - because he knew how close it was - he knew those bonus points may be necessary to win it all. In the old days, a couple years ago, somebody might have settled for second. He took a lot of chances. I hope it was because the rewards were such that it counts."
France seemed unworried about TV ratings, which are down this season. "Television ratings for almost everything are down - prime time, daytime, sports, whatever else," France said. "We're probably a victim of that to some level. You have to remember we're still posting big audiences, and our TV partners are very satisfied. We'd love to be growing at better rates, but we're not contracting at all. We're pretty satisfied that story lines in the future and things go on that we'll be fine."
As far as New Hampshire and the recent purchase by Speedway Motorsports, France said it does make some realignment opportunities possible for SMI owner Bruton Smith and President H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler. "Two events that are working as well as those two events were, you'd like to think they would work bests there vs. taking one somewhere else," France said. "But Bruton and Humpy and those guys have to get in there and determine some of that on their own."(SceneDaily.com)(11-10-2007)
- Cars Dyno'd at Texas: NASCAR officials put the cars of several Nextel Cup teams on the sanctioning body's chassis dyno machine after the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway Sunday. The Chevrolets of race winner Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports), Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s Martin Truex Jr., Hendrick's Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing's Tony Stewart, Richard Childress Racing's Jeff Burton and JGR's J.J. Yeley, the Fords of Roush Fenway Racing's Matt Kenseth and Robert Yates Racing's Ricky Rudd, the Dodges of Penske Racing's Ryan Newman and Gillett Evernham Motorsports' Kasey Kahne and the Toyotas of Team Red Bull's Brian Vickers and Bill Davis Racing's Dave Blaney took turns on the machine following the race.(SceneDaily.com)(11-5-2007)
- NASCAR to not give Cup drivers points in Nationwide races? In hopes of giving the Nationwide Series its own identity, NASCAR officials are considering one future option that would stop Cup regulars from earning points in the feeder league. Officials also have talked to the teams about making engine and body changes, including the possibility of going to pony cars (Mustangs, Camaros, etc.) in 2009. "All we've done at this point is ask the teams how they would feel about various changes," said NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston. "Nothing has been decided. It's all very preliminary." The most interesting idea being discussed is a new rule that would state any driver ranked in the top 35 in Cup points could not earn points competing in the Nationwide race. The plan would go into affect in 2009.(ESPN.com)(10-31-2007)
- NASCAR Visits Pendleton Marine Base: A group of NASCAR drivers made a pit stop to visit with a group of stock car racing’s most loyal fans today. The drivers visited with the service personnel and families at the legendary United States Marine Corps base Camp Pendelton. The event was in advance of the Oct. 20 NASCAR Toyota Showdown at Irwindale Speedway. The drivers came from NASCAR Grand National Division teams, including representatives of the Busch East Series and the NASCAR West Series. Goodyear is the exclusive tire provider for the Grand National Division. The tiremaker assisted with the coordination of the base visit. “There are a ton of race fans at Camp Pendelton,” said Goodyear’s Chad Fletcher. “The racing world owes the debt of freedom to these folks, so it’s nice to be part of giving something back.” The drivers toured the base and had the opportunity to make a simulated beach landing off an amphibious landing craft. The drivers signed autographs at three areas around the huge base. The autograph session was a big hit, Fletcher said. “I think we wore out some pens. Five teams brought their racecars and the families all got to get close enough to see what the cars really look like,” said Fletcher. “It was probably the most exciting thing these drivers will do, outside of their racecars, all week.” Goodyear gave away 250 tickets to the weekend’s racing event and made arrangements with the track to provide a special seating section for the Marines at Saturday night’s race. Camp Pendleton will provide the color guard for Saturday’s pre-race activities. The Showdown begins Friday with practice and qualifying. The race will be held Saturday [shown on SPEED]. The drivers who took part in the appearance included Mike David (2007 West Series champion), Brian Ickler, Eric Richardson, Moses Smith, Brett Thompson, Eric Holmes, Tim Woods III, Peyton Sellers, Justin Lofton, Eric Hardin and Marc Davis.(Goodyear PR)(10-18-2007)
- NASCAR to watch bump drafting Sunday: Nextel Cup Series director John Darby said bump drafting will be monitored more closely than ever at Talladega Superspeedway where the technique is used to gain ground in the draft. "Describing the what and how we police there won't be any change in the rule," Darby said before Saturday's qualifying. "But there obviously will be more attention paid to it. There may be more emphasis in the driver's meeting about backing off of it and we'll be a little more observant in the control tower." Because the back and front bumper of the COTs match up more evenly than the former cars it's easier for drivers to bump draft, particularly in no-bump zones that are in the turns and tri-oval, without spinning out the car ahead of them. Tony Eury Jr., the crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr., said NASCAR could play a big role in determining the championship Chase if it properly enforces bump drafting. "It will be interesting to see how deep they want to get into that," he said. "They could make a call that could decide how the championship comes out. Everybody out here will be doing it at some point of the other. It's just going to be who do they get on first." The penalty for excessive bump drafting could range from being held a lap on pit road to being parked. Either would be costly to a Chase contender. "It depends on the situation," Darby said.(ESPN.com)(10-6-2007)
- No plate changes planned at Talladega: NASCAR officials don't anticipate a last-minute change in the size of the restrictor plate hole before Saturday's qualifying or Sunday's Cup race [at Talladega Superspeedway]. Tony Stewart topped both practices, registering a speed of 194.959mph in the first session and 194.054mph in the second. Officials said that was well within the range to keep racing safe.(ESPN.com)(10-6-2007)
- Talladega inspection process goes smoothly: Unlike other Car of Tomorrow races, NASCAR passed out mandated side plates and wickers for Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway. Those were the only two major areas on the car in the past where crew chiefs could make adjustments to affect air flow. So instead of being able to choose between a curved or flat side plate, teams were mandated flat ones. Side plates and wickers aside, the inspection process at Talladega went off without a hitch. About half the field, including the top 12 teams competing for the championship, passed with only a few having to make minor adjustments to be legal. The rest of the field will be inspected before Friday morning's first practice. "It's been pretty routine," series director John Darby said. NASCAR's biggest concern before Sunday now is the size of the restrictor plate hole. It is larger than the hole teams used during the spring race, creating 75 to 80% more horsepower. But many believe the governing body will reduce the size after Friday's two practices to lower speeds. Darby said the difference could be as minor as a 64th of an inch, about the thickness of a matchbox cover.(ESPN.com)(10-5-2007)
- Talladega COT rules: Sunday’s UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway marks the big track debut of the Car of Tomorrow, the first time it’s run on a superspeedway. The COT is taller and has more drag than the old-style spoiler car, which means NASCAR car run a larger restrictor-plate this weekend. Teams will begin the weekend using a 31/32-inch restrictor plate – the same size they tested with last month. They ran 7/8 (28/32) inch plates the last time they raced at Talladega in May. The bigger plate is expected to add 75-80 horsepower, NASCAR said. Should the cars prove too fast during practice, NASCAR has the option of installing smaller plates for the race. NASCAR also has mandated a minimum rear wing angle of 10 degrees. NASCAR will supply the wings at the track, as it has done in all previous COT races. NASCAR also will issue the teams end plates at the track, which has not been done before. Other changes include a taller wicker on the rear wing (one inch compared with 3/16 inch in the past), which will help add drag to the car. And for the first time, there will be a mandated gear rule.(SPEEDtv.com)(10-4-2007)
- Talladega plate size, wicker height could change: Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby says that teams are going to practice at Talladega Superspeedway with the restrictor plate, wing angle and wicker height that they ended a recent test session with. But he also said that two of those could change if speeds are too high. The restrictor plates used to harness engine power will start with holes of 31/32nds of an inch. That should give teams 80 more horsepower than the current plates being used. That could change if speeds are too high in the pair of Nextel Cup practices at the track, though. The wing angle is set at 10 degrees, which should not change, and the wicker height is 1 inch. Any changes will be determined by how the cars perform and whether they surpass that average speed of 200 mph per lap which has long been the unofficial limit in the sport. (SceneDaily.com)(9-29-2007)
- NASCAR loses research partner, reopens category: Advanced Micro Devices, which entered NASCAR as the official technology partner late in 2005, has obtained a release from its deal and decided to exit the sport. Travis Bullard, a spokesman for AMD, said the company's $5.4 billion acquisition of ATI Technologies last year led to a re-evaluation of AMD's marketing strategy and partnerships. Tissot remains NASCAR's official timekeeper.(Alabama Live/Sports Business Journal)(10-2-2007)
- Coors Light to replace Bud as official beer of NASCAR UPDATE 2: Coors Light may become the official beer of NASCAR, replacing Budweiser, according to sources, and Coors may also become the new sponsor of what is now the Busch series tour.(Winston Salem Journal)
AND also hearing Coors could be the sponsor of the #01 DEI team in 2008.(9-9-2007)
UPDATE: Coors Light will announce Tuesday a $20 million deal over five years to become the official beer of NASCAR starting in January. Coors replaces Anheuser-Busch as the official sponsor. The new deal includes renaming the pole award to the Coors Light Pole Award from the Bud Pole Award. For Coors, the NASCAR deal also replaces its sponsorship of the #40 Dodge in the Nextel Cup Series. "Our deal was up with those guys, and this opportunity came up," says Andy England, chief marketer for Coors. "It feels like we are elevating our game." For consumer product marketers, a league deal opens up greater opportunity for strong retail display — especially in and around cities when races occur.(USA Today)
Coors Shootout? no word on what happens to what is known as the Budweiser Shootout BUT, per Florida Today: From Daytona International Speedway: NASCAR’s agreement with Coors does not include the Bud Shootout race, which is a separate entitlement with DIS. There will be a Bud Shootout event in 2008.(9-25-2007)
UPDATE 2: Coors Brewing Company and NASCAR today announced a multi-year partnership, making Coors Light the official beer of NASCAR. The five-year sponsorship agreement gives Coors Brewing Company category exclusivity starting with the 2008 NASCAR season. “We’re proud that Coors Light, the World’s Most Refreshing Beer, is now the official beer of NASCAR – refreshing race fans every weekend from the start of the season to the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup,” said Andy England, Chief Marketing Officer, Coors Brewing Company. “This partnership allows us to deliver exciting and relevant programs to our distributors and retailers – all centered around the number-one spectator sport in the country.” The sponsorship agreement gives Coors Light exclusive rights to NASCAR logos in advertising, packaging and promotions, as well as the right to brand the Pole Award. In addition, Coors Light will build distributor and consumer promotions giving fans exclusive access to one-of-a-kind NASCAR experiences.(Business Wire)(9-25-2007)
- NASCAR wins in appeals court vs. AT&T: NASCAR won a major court decision Monday as the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overruled a temporary injunction issued by a district court judge that had allowed AT&T logos to be placed on the #31 Richard Childress Racing car under NASCAR's grandfather clause for telecommunication sponsors.
"Because Cingular [now AT&T Mobility] was neither a party to nor an intended beneficiary of the [grandfather clause], it has not itself suffered a legally cognizable injury as a result of NASCAR's interpretation," the three-judge panel wrote in its unanimous decision to overturn the May 18 decision of U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Shoob. The decision by the Atlanta-based court could result in removal of the AT&T logos from the #31 Chevy driven by Jeff Burton as soon as the Aug. 17-19 race weekend at Michigan International Speedway. AT&T still has the option of asking the court to reconsider. "Obviously we're pleased," NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said. "This is good news for every driver and team in the sport, which benefits from our exclusive relationships. As we've always said, there are three key sponsors that benefit everyone in the industry - the tire manufacturer, the fuel supplier and the [series] title sponsors. This decision confirms those relationships." NASCAR, citing its exclusivity agreement with Sprint Nextel for the sponsorship of its premier series, had barred AT&T from using its logos to replace Cingular on the RCR car. AT&T and Cingular merged in December 2006. AT&T went to court, arguing that NASCAR's grandfather clause (which went into effect in 2004 when Nextel signed a 10-year deal to replace Winston as the Cup Series sponsor) in its annual contract with RCR did not preclude the change in logos.
The appeals court ruled that NASCAR did not intend for AT&T Mobility to benefit, and therefore couldn't be a third-party beneficiary to the NASCAR-RCR agreement, which included the grandfather clause in an addendum. Because RCR was not required to renew its relationships with Cingular, AT&T did not have a legal right for its logos to be put on the car, the court ruled. "The Addendum to the RCR Agreement was intended to protect RCR from the potential harm caused by a sudden loss of sponsorship due to Sprint Nextel's exclusivity," the three-judge panel wrote. "Any benefit to Cingular (now AT&T Mobility) resulting from NASCAR's commitment to grant RCR the option to continue and renew its sponsorship agreement was merely incidental to NASCAR's intended purpose of preserving RCR's choice of sponsorship." The decision likely ends the injunction phase of the case. The case, which includes a $100 million countersuit by NASCAR against AT&T, still is scheduled to go to trial.(SceneDaily.com)(8-13-2007)
- Husband of NASCAR executive dies in plane crash; 5 killed; 4 hurt UPDATES: Dr. Bruce Kennedy, husband of International Speedway Corp. President Lesa France Kennedy, was killed this morning when the plane he was piloting crashed into a Sanford neighborhood, setting two houses on fire, according to informed sources close to Daytona International Speedway and NASCAR. At least four other persons were killed, including two children, Sanford Fire Chief Gerard Ransom confirmed about noon. The identities of the dead were not released and NASCAR did not immediately provide any details but at least four informed sources confirmed the identity of the Daytona Beach plastic surgeon to The News-Journal. A NASCAR spokesman in Charlotte, NC, said the public relations staff in Daytona Beach was "in the information gathering stage" and that he knew no details at this point. Kennedy was piloting the Cessna 310 when it went down about 8:50 a.m. shortly after takeoff from Daytona International Airport. At a briefing shortly before 11am/et, the Seminole County Sheriff's office said the pilot and co-pilot were both killed in the crash. The plane crashed into one house and the resulting fire ignited another house next door. The crash occurred on Willowbay Ridge Court at a subdivision called The Preserve at Lake Monroe, south of U.S. 17-92 and east of Interstate 4. Located near the Central Florida Zoo and the Orlando Sanford International Airport, the subdivision is comprised of new two-story single family homes. "It was an extremely intense fire," said Matt Minnetto, a fire investigator with Sanford Fire Department. Minnetto said a boy, believed to be about 10 years old, was among the injured, with about 80% to 90% of his body burned. Joe Brown, spokesman for Orlando Regional Medical Center, confirmed that two adults and child had been taken to that facility. He said he could release no names or conditions of the patients.
The twin-engine plane 310 was registered to Competitor Liaison Bureau Inc. of Daytona Beach, said Kathleen Bergen with the Federal Aviation Administration. Competitor Liaison is based in Daytona Beach and lists William C. France, the late chairman of NASCAR, as its registered agent in online records from the Department of State Division of Corporations. James C. France also is listed as an officer of the company. The plane was traveling from Daytona Beach to Lakeland when the pilot declared smoke in the cockpit. The plane tried to land at the Orlando Sanford International Airport when it crashed about a mile or two north of the airport, Bergen said. At a news briefing, authorities confirmed that two people died in the plane. Three people in the home that sustained the direct hit were injured, including a mother, father and 10-year-old boy who sustained burns over 80 to 90% of his body.
A Lake Mary firefighter who was off duty and without protective equipment was treated for smoke inhalation. The firefighter was the first to arrive on the scene, entered the home and rescued the boy.The crash call came about 8:30am. A witness saw the plane teetering as it was coming across Lake Monroe. It hit the rear of one of two houses on Willowbay Ridge Street. The resulting fire spread quickly because of the aviation fuel aboard. The two homes and the plane were completely destroyed. National Transportation Safety Board Spokesman Ted Lopatkiewicz said an investigator has been sent to the scene. "You're looking at the maintenance history of the aircraft, the flight history of the pilot and weather conditions," Lopatkiewicz said of some the information the investigator will collect. A preliminary report will be available within a couple weeks while a complete investigation could take up to a year, Lopatkiewicz said. Kennedy's death came just five weeks after the June 4 death of Lesa France Kennedy's father, Bill France Jr. She serves as president of the family-run International Speedway Corp. The couple was married May 7, 1988 at Seabreeze United Church. They have one son, Ben, now about 15. FAA records confirm he received his commercial pilot certification on May 24.(Daytona Beach News Journal/Associated Press and more info at wftv.com)
NASCAR Statement: Regarding Sanford, Fla. Plane Crash - "This morning, at approximately 8:40am/et, a Cessna 310 registered to Competitor Liaison Bureau, Inc. of Daytona Beach, crashed in a Sanford, Florida, area neighborhood. At this time, we can confirm there were two people on-board, including the pilot, Dr. Bruce Kennedy and Michael Klemm, a senior captain with NASCAR Aviation. Both were killed in the crash. “Dr. Kennedy was the husband of NASCAR Board Member and ISC President Lesa France Kennedy. It is clear that numerous families were affected by this terrible tragedy and unfortunately several people were deceased or seriously injured. Our deepest sympathies and prayers are with all of those who were involved in this tragic accident and their families. We will provide additional information as it becomes available.”(NASCAR PR)(7-10-2007)
UPDATE: A twin-engine NASCAR plane had broken control cables and its crew reported smoke in the cockpit before crashing into a suburban neighborhood and killing five people. However, it was unknown whether the cables broke in flight or after impact, and the cause of the July 10 crash in Sanford remained unclear, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board released Tuesday. Numerous separations in the cables in the right wing and forward fuselage of the Cessna 310 showed signs of tension overload, according to the report.(Associated Press)(7-24-2007)
- NASCAR Says Competition Better than Ever: Present-day Nextel Cup Series races offer closer competition than anytime in history, NASCAR says. Taking into account such statistics as cars on the lead lap and average leaders per race, racing since 1970 has become more competitive and more unpredictable than ever:
Cars on the lead lap: In 1970, 22 of the 48 races had only one car on the lead lap at the end of the race. Not since 1994 has a race ended with one car on the lead lap. In the early 1970s, it was common for a race-winner to have a margin of victory of multiple laps. In 1973 at Darlington, for example, David Pearson finished 13 laps ahead of second-place finisher Benny Parsons. Since 1970, the race winner was the only car on the lead lap 128 times. From the years 1970 to 1979, it happened 110 times. In the '80s, 16 times. In the '90s, only twice; and since 1995, it has not happened at all.
The percentage of cars on the lead lap has grown - and in some cases doubled. In the 48 races held in 1970, only 5.5 percent of the cars that started the race finished on the lead lap. That number has steadily grown. In 2006 it was 43.6%.
More Race Winners: In 1970, 18 races were won by one driver. In 1971, one driver won 21 races. Since 2000, no driver has won more than eight races in a season. Through 19 races this year, 13 different drivers have visited Victory Lane. In 1970, there were 12 different race-winners the entire season - and that year featured 48 races on the schedule. 2001 - with 19 different race winners - was NASCAR's most prolific year in terms of parity since 1970.
More Leaders: The number of leaders per race has seen steady growth since 1970. In 1970 a race averaged four different leaders. That number has been at least 10 for the past three full seasons and currently the average for the 2007 season is 11.(NASCAR PR)(7-22-2007)
- France vows to maintain the integrity of crew chief penalties; Drivers could be suspended: NASCAR plans to address the issue of suspended crew chiefs continuing to do their jobs from locations at the track but outside of the garage. Crew chief Tony Eury Jr., for example, reportedly worked with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s team last weekend from a motorcoach parked on a hill outside New Hampshire International Speedway as he completed a six-week suspension. NASCAR chairman Brian France said that insults the integrity of the penalty. "We just had a meeting about that," France said during a Tuesday afternoon conference call. "We will be, if that all is accurate, addressing that shortly." France did not expand on what may be done. A crackdown could have an immediate impact on plans for the Hendrick Motorsports teams of Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson this weekend at Daytona. Crew chiefs Steve Letarte (Gordon) and Chad Knaus (Johnson) are in the second week of a six-week suspension that began after NASCAR ruled their cars failed initial inspection at the road course in Sonoma, Calif. France did say that NASCAR is willing to suspend drivers if it has to. "We'd like not to get to [suspending drivers]," he said. "We'd like to make the deterrent, a portion of the penalty, significant enough that that isn't necessary for us to do. But are we willing to go there? Of course we would. We have in the past and we will in the future. We're not hoping to do that. That's sort of a death penalty." Overall, France is satisfied that NASCAR is doing everything it can to discourage cheating, particularly when it comes to the Car of Tomorrow. "We feel very strongly that we're going to be very, very tough on people that test us with the Car of Tomorrow," France said. "The whole premise is built around not being able to do much fudging with the car." While France said NASCAR will continue to escalate penalties for COT violations, he said they will not be customized to impact teams differently, based on the number of points they have. Gordon's and Johnson's teams could better afford a 100-point hit than some others. "The teams that are winning, despite what we may fine them, they are just good teams," France said. "They're going to win when they race with the same rules package everybody else has. They get through any kind of adversity to a point. ... We can't just customize the penalty based on the circumstance. Meaning, the [Gordon] car that has compiled a bunch of points, we can't just say that is going to be 200 instead of 100 because he has a big lead. But we can find the right penalties."(ESPN.com)(7-3-2007)
- NASCAR determined to police COT: NASCAR is determined to take any guesswork out of its new Car of Tomorrow. With a new system of templates and sensors to measure the parameters of the taller, wider and reputedly safer car, NASCAR chairman Brian France said the sanctioning organization wants to leave no doubt that it will come down hard on infractions. "We have to lay down the law," France said Sunday at Infineon Raceway, where the Nextel Cup cars raced in the Toyota/Save Mart 350. That doesn't bode well for the teams of#24-Jeff Gordon and #48-Jimmie Johnson, who were parked for Friday's practice and qualifying after NASCAR inspectors found front fenders on their COT Chevrolets had been illegally modified. The two Hendrick Motorsports drivers were allowed to practice Saturday and race Sunday, starting from the rear of the field, but it is expected that NASCAR will follow up in the next few days with more severe penalties, possibly including the loss of drivers and owner points, six-figure fines and suspensions for the crew chiefs. Asked if NASCAR is taking all the creativity away from the teams, France said, "There will always be room for imagination and ingenuity in the sport. But we don't want this thing to revolve around technology. It's important to keep it in the hands of the drivers."(AP/ESPN.com)(6-25-2007)
- The Most Valuable NASCAR Teams:
Forbes has released its annual ranking of Nextel Cup teams based on value, Roush Fenway Racing tops the list. Forbes estimates, the average NASCAR team is worth $120 million, up 67% from last year. Average revenue was $84 million. Top teams now field 41 cars in NASCAR's elite Nextel Cup Series vs. 34 in 2006. That means more deals from sponsors hoping to capitalize on TV exposure. Another factor this year: Forbes had access to more detailed information about where teams generate additional revenue, and how much. This dramatically increased their estimates of non-race day income. The top 10 teams, with their assigned value and revenue and Most Valuable driver:
1. Roush Fenway Racing (value: $316 million, revenue: $189 million, #17-Kenseth)
2. Hendrick Motorsports ($297, $163, #24-Gordon)
3. Joe Gibbs Racing ($173, $110, #20-Stewart)
4. Evernham Motorsports ($128, $89, #9-Kahne)
5. Richard Childress Racing ($124, $98, #29-Harvick)
6. Dale Earnhardt Inc. ($118, $96, #8-Earnhardt Jr.)
7. Robert Yates Racing ($103, $77, #38-Gilliland)
8. Chip Ganassi Racing ($94, $80, #42-Montoya)
9. Michael Waltrip Racing ($91, $75, #44-Jarrett)
10. Penske Racing ($75, $65, #12-Newman)
see full story at Forbes.com.(6-22-2007)
- Bahrain keen to host NASCAR Championship: an odd article and not much substance, imagine this would be some sort of NASCAR series but not Nextel Cup.....the article states: Motor racing enthusiasts in Bahrain may soon get to see the popular NASCAR Championship at the Bahrain International Circuit, it was revealed yesterday [6/19/07]. "Hosting NASCAR is on the minds of the management at the BIC," said BIC director of PR and government affairs Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa who has just returned from the US after heading a fact-finding delegation. "We did go and see a NASCAR race and an Indy 500 single-seater race there. We not only looked at things from the racing side, but also from a marketing perspective," said Shaikh Salman speaking at a BIC Press conference at the Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain Resort and Spa. "The NASCAR race was very good to see, but we are yet to look at how that system would work here because we don't have an oval. But it is something that we are looking into. It's not to say that it only works on an oval. I think we will go through our checklist and see if everything makes sense," he said. However, he appeared to hint that the US promoters were making large financial demands to allocate a race to Bahrain.(full story at Gulf Daily News), there are no comments from anyone associated with NASCAR.(6-22-2007)
- NASCAR Counter Sues AT&T for $100 Million: Today NASCAR filed a counter claim in U.S. District Court against AT&T Mobility/Cingular Wireless and AT&T Inc., alleging breach of contract, fraud and misrepresentation, and conspiracy to aid and abet wrongful interference with Nextel’s exclusive sponsorship agreement. NASCAR is seeking a minimum of $100 million in damages. The NASCAR Rule Book governs participation in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and its contents are agreed to in writing by all NASCAR members and participants. Cingular is a member of NASCAR and agreed to abide by all NASCAR rules and regulations when its representatives signed official documents such as the NASCAR Membership and License Application. NASCAR’s suit further alleges that AT&T, Cingular and its representatives breached its explicit agreements with NASCAR when they re-branded the #31 car; entered into contract with RCR knowing that they would litigate against NASCAR; and when they sought to ambush Nextel’s exclusive sponsorship rights. NASCAR also submitted its response today to a suit filed by AT&T Mobility/Cingular Wireless by soundly rejecting each of their claims. The response demonstrates the clarity of NASCAR’s rule book and the baseless allegations made by AT&T Mobility/Cingular Wireless in its attempts to re-brand the #31.(NASCAR PR)(6-17-2007)
- NASCAR's Canadian Tire Series debut's tonight: The much anticipated inaugural race of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series is scheduled for Saturday, May 26 at Cayuga Speedway Park with upwards of 30 cars expected to be on hand for a chance to win this historic race. The 5/8-mile oval of Cayuga Speedway Park near Hagersville, Ontario has the honor of hosting the first NASCAR Canadian Tire Series event. While the Dodge Dealers 200 is the first race for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, it is not the first NASCAR-sanctioned event in Canada. In fact, NASCAR’s premier series, known today as the Nextel Cup Series, has held two events in Canada. The first was July 1, 1952 in Stamford Park in Niagara Falls, Ontario which was won by Buddy Shuman in a Hudson Hornet. The second was held at Canadian National Exposition Speedway in Toronto. Lee Petty won the event. Also in this race, a young man by the name of Richard Petty made his debut in NASCAR’s premier series.(nascarlocalracing.com)(5-26-2007)
- Senators Ask NASCAR to Race on Ethanol, Win for America: On the eve of the biggest weekend in auto racing, two United States Senators have asked NASCAR to consider joining the IndyCar Racing League by converting to the "fuel of the future," American-made ethanol. With the eyes of the world on auto racing, U.S. Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) today sent a letter to NASCAR President Brian France, asking that NASCAR begin considering the conversion of its fleet to high-powered U.S. ethanol and the long-term promotion of American-made ethanol.(United States Senator - John Thune site, also see a letter to Brian France here)(5-25-2007)
- Drivers hit Washington DC: David Stremme, Casey Mears, Jeff Burton and NASCAR officials traveled Tuesday afternoon from Concord, N.C. to Washington D.C. to support The Motorsports Coalition’s event to educate members of Congress on all the moving parts of the motorsports industry and on the different pieces of legislation that can impact the sport as a whole. The Motorsports Coalition is comprised of motorsports sanctioning bodies and was further represented by a majority of the track presidents of NASCAR sanctioned venues, and a NNCS All-Star showcar.(Ganassi PR)(5-2-2007)
- VA Tech Student attends race, thanks NASCAR: Clark Ruhland, the outgoing associate sports editor of the Virginia Tech student newspaper, The Collegiate Times, was among the visiting dignitaries introduced during Sunday's drivers meeting. He addressed the crowd briefly, expressing appreciation for the support the drivers have given in the campus' time of healing. The cars Sunday carried VT stickers above the driver's nameplate. Denny Hamlin wore the distinctive “VT” last week at Phoenix. Ward Burton toured the campus, visiting the engineering department that felt a heavy toll of the tragedy. The circuit goes to Richmond next week and Ruhland, who graduates in two weeks, expects the outpouring to be over the top. “It's going to be amazing,” he said. “It'll be like a Tech football game, half the stands will be orange and half will be red. I'm sure 4-5 times as many drivers will be wearing Tech (colors). It'll mean a lot to the students and alumni. It's Richmond. Half the alumni base is either in the Richmond or D.C. areas, and they all come to the races.” Ruhland, a big race fan with aspirations of being a journalist, couldn't let the visit to Talladega pass without doing some networking. He dropped his resume off to NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter, which everyone said wasn't a bad move.(Anniston Star)(4-30-2007)
- NASCAR to slow down the cars at Talladega? Doubtful UPDATE no change: NASCAR officials are monitoring the situation to determine if changes are needed this weekend after the Nextel Cup drivers posted speeds approaching 200 mph in both practice sessions Friday. #9-Kasey Kahne turned a lap at 198.685 mph in the first practice. #7-Robby Gordon had the best lap in the second practice at 197.423 mph in the heat of the afternoon. "Right now we don't think it's a problem," said NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter. "With the draft and the rate of closure so much better here, we feel the real speed is around 195. But we'll keep looking at it and see what happens in qualifying [Saturday]." NASCAR officials could decide to make the holes in the restrictor plates smaller to further limit air intake and reduce horsepower. NASCAR did that for the Busch cars Friday, making the plate opening 1/32nd of an inch smaller after Mike Wallace posted a lap at more than 197 mph on Thursday.(ESPN.com)(4-28-2007)
UPDATE: NASCAR decided not to change the size of the restrictor plate for the Cup cars after speeds exceeded 198 mph in practice. Speeds dropped enough to make Cup officials more comfortable with the speeds.(Roanoke Times)(4-29-2007)
- NASCAR Statement Regarding Its Day In Court: NASCAR presented its case to the court today [about allowing AT&T to sponsor the #31 car] and we eagerly await a decision. NASCAR is defending every driver, team and track involved with NASCAR. The court’s ruling will be important to protect the very flexible and open environment that allows for hundreds of sponsors to successfully participate in NASCAR. It’s important to remember that Sprint Nextel is a cornerstone sponsor that benefits the entire industry by way of its contribution to the championship points fund, technology bringing fans closer to the sport and its massive marketing and advertising campaigns. NASCAR will continue to protect the industry in any future attacks on our key partners.(NASCAR PR)
AND Jeff Burton's #31 Richard Childress Racing Chevy will bear the familiar Cingular markings for at least two more weeks. There was no decision Thursday on AT&T's request for an injunction to have its logos placed on Burton's car. Instead, U.S. District court judge Marvin H. Schoob listened to almost four hours of arguments from NASCAR, AT&T and Nextel and then set May 7 as the deadline for briefs to be submitted in the case. At Thursday's preliminary injunction hearing, NASCAR attorneys defended the decision to prevent Cingular - the primary sponsor of the #31 car - from changing its branding on the car to the AT&T blue globe. Cingular merged with AT&T in December, and AT&T is phasing out the Cingular brand. Cingular is arguing that its rights include changing its brand name to AT&T.
"We have changed our name, but we are the same company as we were before we changed our name," said David Balser, attorney for AT&T Inc.(Associated Press)(4-27-2007)
- NASCAR investigates Stewart, Montoya incidents: #20-Tony Stewart is not expected to be fined for skipping the post-race press conference last weekend at Phoenix, but #42-Juan Pablo Montoya may be for an obscene gesture made on camera prior to a Busch Series practice. NASCAR officials are reviewing whether to penalize the former Formula One star who made the gesture at a cameraman following him from Nextel Cup qualifying to the Busch garage for practice. According to officials at Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Montoya thought the cameraman was a person who has been shadowing him as part of a documentary for more than a month and that the gesture was all in fun. There is nothing in the NASCAR by-laws differentiating between using an obscene gesture or word in fun or anger. NASCAR officials plan to speak with Stewart and remind him of his post-race responsibilities. Stewart left the Phoenix track without fulfilling his media obligations because he was upset with a second-place finish.(ESPN.com)(4-25-2007)
- Brian France off to China: A four-person NASCAR group, including chairman Brian France, was scheduled to depart April 22 [yesterday] for a week-long visit to China to discuss possible projects with government, sports and business officials in Beijing, the country's capital. NASCAR has no plans to race its Nextel Cup series in China. The trip is likely to involve discussions about lower-level NASCAR-type events or series at Chinese racetracks and business relationships that might include NASCAR and Chinese interests. It was not known if any contracts or agreements might be signed on the trip. Scheduled to make the trip, in addition to France, were NASCAR senior vice president Paul Brooks, NASCAR international managing director Robbie Weiss and Ken Clapp, a NASCAR consultant and formerly NASCAR's West Coast director. NASCAR officials have been discussing possible involvement in China for more than a year.(SceneDaily.com)(4-23-2007)
- NASCAR To Honor Victims Of Virginia Tech Tragedy: NASCAR has received permission from Virginia Tech to display the school’s logo on race cars for the next three weeks, in a tribute to the victims of this week’s shootings at the university's Blacksburg, Va. campus. The logo will be displayed against a black background on the “B-post” – the area just to the right of the driver’s side window net – of cars competing in Nextel Cup Series and Busch Series events at Phoenix, Talladega (April 28-29) and Richmond (May 4-5). Additionally, trucks competing in the Craftsman Truck Series event April 28 at Kansas Speedway also will display the logo. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their family members, their friends – and the entire Virginia Tech community,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “We wanted to make a simple, but strong, gesture of remembrance. We are grateful the university gave us clearance to display their logo.”(NASCAR PR)(4-19-2007)
- Team owner wants IRL to be a support event to-NASCAR: One of the IRL's longtime team owners is pushing the idea of IRL-NASCAR Nextel Cup combined events. John Barnes, an owner and the general manager of Panther Racing, thinks that even if the IRL event was positioned as a support race, Indy-style racing would benefit. "We would make it where we would race on Saturday to replace a Busch or ARCA race, and they would race on Sunday," he said. "I have no problem being second fiddle to them, I just want to get in front of their fans and show them what real racing is all about." Terry Angstadt, the IRL's new president of its commercial division, said the IRL would not allow itself to be presented as a support race.(Tampa Tribune)(4-5-2007)
- NASCAR Stagnant? TV ratings are down for Nextel Cup races, International Speedway Corp., pulled the plug on its proposed track in Washington state and empty seats have been visible at some race this season. Has NASCAR fallen off? "All sports have growth spurts and reach plateaus at various times," said John Saunders, ISC's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "NASCAR is not unique. What is unique is that this is NASCAR's first time." Saunders spoke on a conference call Tuesday with investor analysts as company officials discussed first-quarter earnings. ISC, run by the France family that also runs NASCAR, operates 12 tracks that host 19 Cup races, including at Daytona, Martinsville, Richmond, California and Phoenix. Monday night, ISC announced it dropped plans to build a $368 million race track near Bremerton, Wash., after legislators planned changes to a financing package. Saunders called the changes, which he did not reveal, "unacceptable to ISC" and that those changes would have "a significant negative impact on the project's financial model." Said ISC President Lesa France Kennedy in a statement: "Any decision to execute on growth opportunities is guided by the fundamental principal of building long-term value for our shareholders." ISC officials say they remain interested in building a track in the Northwest and would still consider Washington. ISC officials also are studying the feasibility of a race track in Denver but that track, if ever developed, wouldn't be ready until 2012. ISC ended its attempts to build a track on Staten Island in December, although it remains interested in that area. With no new track ready to be built soon, ISC officials said on the conference call they had no plans to move a Cup race from one track to another. Saunders also said TV ratings for Cup races are down about 14% from this time last year. He said Busch TV ratings are down about 9% and truck ratings are up about 3%. Saunders said most of the drop in Cup ratings came with the Daytona 500. Last year's Daytona ratings were artificially boosted, Saunders said, by the Winter Olympics, which preceded the race. Ratings also were down for the California and Bristol races. Despite these examples, Saunders said, "we think the industry outlook is bright,'' noting this is the first year of the eight-year TV package that pays NASCAR about $4.5 billion, the return of ESPN to broadcasting races and diversity initiatives to attract new fans, particularly the Hispanic audience.(Roanoke Times)(4-4-2007)
- Teams use thinner metal on exhaust at Bristol, causes problems: #11-Denny Hamlin said the first race with the Car of Tomorrow, last week at Bristol, wasn't that much different. How he felt afterward sure was. Hamlin said yesterday during Busch Series testing at Richmond International Raceway that he and several other drivers had "extremely bad headaches" along with aches throughout the body. "I had to get blood tested yesterday to see what was wrong with me because I felt terrible," Hamlin said. "I talked to my physical trainer who talked to other physical trainers who said their guys took the day off because they couldn't do anything yesterday." Hamlin said he wondered whether it had anything to do with a carbon monoxide problem. Kerry Tharp, the director of communications for NASCAR competition, said yesterday by phone that several teams, including Hamlin's #11, had exhaust system failures. A number of teams, in trying to conserve weight on the new car, opted for a thinner metal piping for their exhaust systems. That led to failures. The problem is not expected to repeat this weekend at Martinsville.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(3-28-2007)
- Below yellow line at Daytona/Talladega OK on last lap: Drivers throughout the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series garage were still talking about last week's three-wide finish at Daytona International Speedway. While they admitted the finish was good for television, most wondered why NASCAR allowed Johnny Benson to drive below the yellow line - Daytona's out of bounds line - to jump from third to second in the final 200 yards. Benson wasn't penalized because "if you can see the checkered flag on the last lap, anything goes," according to NASCAR spokesman Owen Kearns.(Augusta Chronicle)(2-24-2007)
- Only 4% claim racing as favorite sport: It was difficult to look at 200,000 fans packed into Daytona Speedway and not imagine that auto racing has become one of America's favorite sports. According to a recent Gallup poll, however, auto racing isn't very close. The pollsters asked Americans to name their favorite sport. Football was the easy winner with more than 43% of the voting. Basketball was second with 12% and baseball followed with 11%. Auto racing landed fourth with just 4%. The poll results didn't mean that only 4% of Americans follow auto racing, only that 4% found it to be their favorite sport.(Alabama Live)(2-20-2007)
- Smaller fuel tank, new tire for Vegas UPDATE: NASCAR announced that the Nextel Cup cars will be required to use 13-gallon fuel cells at Las Vegas, instead of the 17 gallon tank that is to be used for the rest of the tracks this season. Also the tire that was used in Las Vegas testing in January will be changed. The reason: the new track surface and configuration at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. There were many accidents and the speeds were much higher. NASCAR did the same thing a couple years ago when Lowe's Motor Speedway levitated then resurfaced the track.(2-11-2007)
UPDATE: NASCAR will use a smaller fuel cell and a different tire compound for the Nextel Cup and Busch races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway March 10-11. "We decided to go with a 13-gallon fuel tank for Las Vegas," said Pemberton. "We discussed it with Goodyear and felt we have the potential for some of the same issues we had at the Charlotte track last year." The fuel cell this season for most races is 17.5 gallons. Using a smaller fuel cell will cause the teams to pit at shorter intervals, enabling crew members to check tire wear and make changes frequently, if needed. NASCAR officials were concerned with tire wear last year at Lowe's Motor Speedway after the surface was repaved, which added additional grip. The Las Vegas track was completely rebuilt in the offseason, adding increased banking to the new surface. Cup teams tested at the 1.5-mile two weeks ago and the Busch teams were there last week. Some drivers complained about the speeds the cars were reaching on the new asphalt, along with the hardness of the tires. "Goodyear has decided to change the left-side compound [at Las Vegas] and maybe a construction that is different from the tests," Pemberton said. "As we go into the day and age with new pavement, the surface is a little too abrasive right off. We just need one race under our belts. We have to get a little time on the racetrack."
AND LVMS statement regarding smaller fuel cells for NASCAR Weekend: "NASCAR's decision to use 13-gallon fuel cells for both the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 and Sam's Town 300 will make for an even more exciting race," said LVMS general manager Chris Powell. "With the increase in the banking from 12 to 20 degrees, there are a lot of unknowns including race set up and tire compounds the teams will face for both races. This decision should keep the racing tighter and give the teams more opportunities to measure tire wear." "Plus, we moved the pit road 275 feet closer to the grandstands, so this will give all of the race fans even more opportunities to watch the excitement of the all-important pit stops."(LVMS PR)(2-11-2007)
- NASCAR Sports Grille to debut next week in Orlando: On Wednesday, February 14, 2007, there will be a Grand Opening of the NASCAR Sports Grille restaurant in the heart of Universal CityWalk in Orlando, FL. NASCAR Sports Grille is a celebration of cuisine, sports and all things NASCAR and features: a 37' media wall, boothside interactive plasma screens, state-of-the-art speed simulators and games, NASCAR retail, museum quality memorabilia, a 20' artistic adaptation of the Nextel Cup and an absolute dedication to quality food and service. The Cordish Company, a Baltimore, MD based real estate development and entertainment operating company is launching the NASCAR Sports Grille restaurants. Executives from The Cordish Company and NASCAR will be available for interviews and photos. Attending include NASCAR Chairman & CEO Brian France, #7 Ford driver Robby Gordon, rock group Collective Soul [a Jayski Fave] and David Cordish - Chairman, The Cordish Company.(PR)(2-8-2007)
- Without Pension, NASCAR Stars Forgotten: The living room of Sam Ard's brown doublewide trailer speaks to his short but successful NASCAR career. Trophies surround the fireplace and crowd its mantel. Plaques and pictures dot the living room walls. What's not there speaks to Ard's life after NASCAR, the two championship rings and a handful of grandfather clocks from Martinsville Speedway that he sold because "we was running short on cash." Unlike veterans of other sports, Ard has no pension to fall back on.
As the booming stock-car series built by men such as Sam Ard heads to Daytona International Speedway this week to kick off its 59th season, NASCAR remains the only major-league sport without a pension plan. "You can drive for NASCAR, but when it's over, it's over. You get nothing," Ard said. "When you fall out of racing or something happens to you, it seems like NASCAR just forgets about you. It's your friends and the people around the race track who have to remember you and keep you going."
Other leagues have pensions. Today's 10-year veterans in baseball will receive a six-figure annual payout beginning at age 62. Even middle-of-the-road professional golfers can pile up millions under the PGA Tour's deferred-compensation plan, which puts money away for players based on performance. An NFL player with six seasons between 1998 and 2003 will get about $2,500 a month beginning at age 55, and the NBA has a similar plan. The NHL contributes about $45,000 per year to retirement accounts for veterans. The ATP and WTA tours make annual contributions averaging between $7,500 and $9,500 to retirement accounts for each tennis player. NASCAR's policy always has been that its drivers are "independent contractors" who bear full responsibility for their finances, health care, retirement and life insurance. Few in NASCAR are arguing for a fund to help today's drivers, who make millions from team contracts and even more from race purses and merchandise sales. Jeff Gordon, the sport's all-time money leader, has won a record $82,366,716 through 14 full seasons and isn't sure what the responsibility should be.(see full article at the Associated Press and more related articles on my Articles Links page)(2-7-2007)
- Forbes rates the top 10 sports brands and event brand value ($mil):
• 1. Super Bowl, 379
• 2. Summer Olympics Games, 176
• 3. FIFA World Cup, 103
• 4. Daytona 500, 91
• 5. Rose Bowl, 88
• 6. NCAA Men's Final Four, 82
• 7. Winter Olympics Games, 82
• 8. Kentucky Derby, 69
• 9. MLB World Series, 56
• 10. NBA Finals, 47
- Past Champions Limited To 6 Provisional Berths in Cup: NASCAR announced today an update to the past champion’s provisional rule in the Nextel Cup Series for 2007. Beginning this season, a past champion’s provisional may be used by an eligible driver a maximum of six times over the course of the season. In addition, a team with a past champion eligible driver may only use this provisional a maximum of six times during a season. Previously, there was no limit on usage of the past champion’s provisional over the course of the 36-race season. The provisional gives the eligible driver the 43rd and final starting position in the race field. "As NASCAR seeks to place more emphasis on competition, we have decided the time is right to limit the number of provisionals allowed,” said NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton. “We believe this revision brings the provisional policy in line with the continued growth of the sport.”(NASCAR PR)(1-31-2007)
- Past Champ Provisional rules to stay the same UPDATE 2 limited at 6? NASCAR sources indicated that the sanctioning body would not alter its past championship provisional rule for the Nextel Cup Series in 2007. For two decades, NASCAR has allotted a spot in the race -- if needed -- for Cup champions that otherwise failed to qualify for the field. NASCAR's decision to leave the rule alone is significant for Dale Jarrett, who is the only full-time former champion without a guaranteed starting spot in 2007. Jarrett is driving for Michael Waltrip Racing's brand-new #44 Toyota, which enters the season without any owner points. NASCAR awards guaranteed starting spots to the top-35 teams in the owner standings from 2006. Because every former champion from 2000 to 2006 finished in the top 35, the past championship provisional will be available to Jarrett, who won the Cup title in 1999. There is a good possibility Jarrett will not need to use his past championship provisional in many races. Because he is essentially guaranteed a starting spot in the first five races, his chances of remaining in the top 35 in 2007 owner standings are high. If Jarrett is in the top 35 in owner points after the season's fifth race, the past championship provisional is available to Bill Elliott [he could also use the provisional spot if Jarrett qualifies for the races in the first 5], who won the title in 1988. Elliott is the only active former champion -- besides Jarrett -- without a guaranteed starting spot. Beginning with the sixth race of the season, NASCAR awards guaranteed starting spots to the teams in the top 35 in points. NASCAR considered altering the rule for 2007 but opted to leave it alone. The past championship provisional rule is different in the Busch Series -- a past championship provisional can only be used once every eight races.(NASCAR.com)(1-22-2007)
UPDATE: NASCAR officials say the past champion's provisional will be altered in 2007. That's news to past champion #44-Dale Jarrett, who on Monday night said he had not been told of any changes to the program. Jarrett could end up needing a past champion's provisional because his new #44 team lacks owner points. Since he moved to the new Michael Waltrip Racing team to start this season, Jarrett has no points for the first five races. He must qualify for each of those based on speed - or by using the past champion's provisional. The driver, who won the 1999 Cup championship, would be locked into the final position in the field if he failed to post a fast enough time to make the race. Jarrett said that he understood the concerns surrounding possible abuse of the provisional system, but that those weren't applicable in his case. NASCAR officials said Tuesday that the change would not be in the rule book, but would appear on entry blanks sent out prior to each race. Vice President Steve O'Donnell said that limiting use of the provision to six races per year was what the sanctioning body had been looking into. "That is still being talked about. I think what we're looking at is six for the driver and owner," he said during the NASCAR Nextel Cup Media Tour hosted by Lowe's Motor Speedway. "The one change [from the Busch Series] is maybe that you can use six concurrently. ... [T]hat's what it looks like it's going to be."(SceneDaily.com)(1-23-2007)
UPDATE 2: NASCAR plans to announce before next month's Daytona 500 a cap on the number of provisionals a former champion can use in a season, vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said on Tuesday. That number likely will fall around six, sources said.(David Newton/ESPN.com)(1-24-2007)
- Some NASCAR Sponsor Highlights from the Joyce Julius Newsletter:
2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Top-10 Team Sponsors:
Sponsor Driver Total Exp. Value* Team-Related Non Team-Related
1) Budweiser #8-D. Earnhardt, Jr. $183.1 68.8% 31.2%
2) Lowe's #48-J. Johnson $143.6 90.2% 9.8%
3) Cingular Wrls. #31-J. Burton $116.6 71.8% 28.2%
4) The Home Depot #20-T. Stewart $98.6 78.4% 21.6%
5) DuPont #24-J. Gordon $88.9 100.0% 0.0%
6) Miller Lite #2-Ku. Busch $71.1 84.7% 15.3%
7) NAPA Auto Pts. #55-M. Waltrip $68.6 35.2% 64.8%
8) DLP #96-T. Raines $67.6 37.4% 62.6%
9) Subway #16-G. Biffle $64.4 82.6% 17.4%
10) DeWalt Tools M. Kenseth $63.3 52.7% 47.3%
Exposure was monitored by Joyce Julius & Associates during each event telecast of the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season (excluding commercials). To determine a value, clear in-focus time and verbal references were compared to the non-discounted cost of a commercial during each respective broadcast. These comparable exposure values provide a standardized measurement for all brands appearing within the series. *Exposure values reflected in millions.
Motorsports Sponsorship: Craftsman windshield identity appeared clear and in-focus during 4% of the total broadcast time devoted to the 2006 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (including commercials). The windshield logos were the most-monitored, non-television graphic exposure source present in the series. Incidentally, Chevrolet truck identity was next (excluding graphics), appearing on-screen about 2% of the time.
Kevin Harvick's NASCAR Busch Series driver uniform was worth more than $1 million to his sponsor, the U.S. Coast Guard. Altogether, USGC identity on Harvick's uniform was monitored for 21:56 during 2006 event broadcasts, some 43% more than the second-ranked driver uniform of Kyle Busch, which prominently featured Lowe's identity.
NBC's final telecast of the Daytona 500 last February proved to be the single largest telecast for cumulative sponsor exposure of the 2006 Nextel Cup Series season, generating $412.3 million of comparable value for the 252 brands monitored during the broadcast. The Coca-Cola 600 ($200.0 million), Pocono 500 ($197.5 million), Dodge/Savemart 350 ($197.2 million) and DirecTV 500 ($189.3 million) rounded out the list of top five exposure-producing event telecasts of the year.(JoyceJulius Newsetter)(1-14-2007)