Reports Are Winston wil leave NASCAR as Title Sponsor



RJR/Winston Bailing? Robin Miller of is reporting that R.J. Reynolds [Winston] is seriously looking at ending its long and rich association with the stock car world after 33 years. This follows by just a few days Union 76's announcement that it would cease its 50-year relationship as NASCAR's official fuel and oil. A top-level source inside the tobacco industry and another source close to the situation said RJR is prepared to shut down this remarkable partnership and that NASCAR is already pursuing a replacement. "There are five years left on the contract, but RJR would walk away as the title sponsor if a suitable replacement could be found," said the source, who requested anonymity. "With all the lawsuits and litigation surrounding the tobacco industry now, Winston feels like it's time to step aside. And NASCAR is actively looking for a new title sponsor." UPS, Coca-Cola and McDonald's are thought to be very interested in hitching their wagon to the marketing monster that has become NASCAR. "We just re-established our relationship with R.J. Reynolds and we look forward to continuing our long-standing and beneficial relationship," said NASCAR vice president of corporate communications Jim Hunter when asked about the possibility of losing NASCAR's sponsorship. Asked if NASCAR had a waiting list of potential title sponsors in the event RJR did bail before its contract expired, Hunter said: "In a hypothetical world, if the need ever came, we think it's a pretty good property." Denny Darnell, senior manager of media relations for Sports Marketing Enterprises, denied the report had any validity. "That would be a shock in that we have a 33-year relationship with NASCAR and we have a multiyear contract with NASCAR," said Darnell, whose agency handles all of RJR's involvement with the series that has exploded into the national consciousness the past decade. The Winston name and logo has been synonymous with NASCAR for 33 years. "Our intentions are to continue to grow with NASCAR in the future." Winston, which ended its sponsorship of the National Hot Rod Association and professional golf in order to comply with the Master Settlement Tobacco Agreement, dropped NASCAR's No Bull 5 Program for 2003 after a five-year run. That was a bonus program that offered $1 million to a driver and a NASCAR fan in five selected events. RJR also continues to sponsor NASCAR's Winston West stock car series.(ESPN)(2-4-2003)

UPS Title Sponsor? FedEx had Cart!

Anybody else here besides me remember when NASCAR was sponsored by W.R. Grace?