Meijer signs five-year deal
to sponsor Busch Series races
By Don Ward
SPARTA, KY. (December 2002) Meijer, one of Americas largest grocery and general merchandise retailers, on Dec. 4 announced it had signed a five-year agreement with the Kentucky Speedway to sponsor the mid-summer NASCAR Busch Series event.
Kentucky Speedway and Meijer
officials announce five-year deal.
Meijer supercenters will become the title sponsor of The Meijer 300. The 2003 race is scheduled for Saturday, June 14, at the $152-million facility in Sparta, Ky. The retailer also will be The Official Supercenter of Kentucky Speedway. Both agreements are through 2007.
Financial terms were not disclosed, however, Meijer stores will receive VIP corporate suites, venue signage, advertising, grandstand tickets, event-specific merchandise, hospitality and other promotional considerations under the agreement.
We are excited and honored that Meijer has chosen Kentucky Speedway to be an integral part of their strategic marketing plan for the next five years, Kentucky Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Mark F. Cassis said. Meijer is an outstanding corporation that will be a valuable partner in not only promoting The Meijer 300, but all activities at the speedway as well.
Headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich., Meijer is a family owned and operated grocery and general merchandise retailer operating 156 stores throughout Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio. Many locations also feature branches of U.S. Bank, "The Official Bank of Kentucky Speedway."
As a member of the Tickets.com Ticketing Services, Meijer stores will continue to sell Kentucky Speedway tickets in addition to officially licensed speedway merchandise. Meijer can be found on the Internet at meijer.com.
"Without question, Mejier team members and our guests will be thrilled with this announcement," said Ken Wright, regional vice president for Meijer. Kentucky Speedway and its sponsors are world-class. We're proud to be associated with them."
Cassis said the deal with Meijer positions the tracks marketing efforts squarely in all of its nearby regional cities, since the food supercenter chain has stores in Cincinnati, Dayton, Louisville and Lexington. "It couldn't have been any better. And to get a five-year commitment that's huge," Cassis said following the announcement.
Former NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip, who served as a consultant on the Kentucky Speedway's construction and now works as a race announcer for the FX Network, attended the press conference, along with NASCAR driver Scott Riggs, who won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race here in 2001. Riggs has since moved up to the NASCAR Busch Series and finished fourth here in last June's Busch Series race after leading 91 laps, more than anyone.
Waltrip recalled in 1976 when the Gatorade car was introduced to NASCAR as part of the sport's genesis into mass marketing of commercial products. Today, every team sports dozens of brand names. "It has become a product-oriented sport, and it has made a huge difference in the direction the sport has gone," said Waltrip, an Owensboro, Ky., native who resides in Nashville, Tenn.
Waltrip used the opportunity to praise the track's design and potential to someday host a Winston Cup Series event. "This is not your father's 1 1/2-mile cookie cutter track. This track was designed by a professional," he said, half-joking in referring to himself.
"We didn't just go out and make a circle in the dirt and say, 'Pave it.' It's like a golfer who wants to play a Jack Nicklaus-designed course; well, this is a Darrell Waltrip-designed race course."
Riggs, 31, of Bahama, N.C., echoed Waltrip's praise of the speedway, saying it had received rave reviews among drivers and teams who have competed or tested there. "Every one who comes here is really impressed. The people are friendly and they are really die-hard racing fans."
Kentucky Speedways two NASCAR Busch Series events have attracted standing-room-only crowds of more than 70,000 to become one of the regions premier sporting events. The Meijer 300 will be broadcast live nationally on the FX Network. Driver Kevin Harvick took the inaugural Kentucky win en route to capturing the 2001 series championship, and 2002 series champion Greg Biffle finished runner-up to Todd Bodine by .036 seconds in one of the closest finishes in series history last season.
Kentucky Speedway officials in October announced is final 2003 racing schedule. For the first time since its opening, the track will feature only one ARCA RE/MAX Series event next season instead of two. The USAC Midgets also are not returning in 2003.
The schedule opens May 10 with the ARCA RE/MAX "Channel 5-205." The opening weekend will also feature a driver's autograph session on Friday night with NASCAR Winston Cup and ARCA drivers. The Winston Cup celebrities will take part in a Legends Series exhibition race on the quarter-mile track.
In June, "The Meijer 300" Busch Series race will be packaged with a NASCAR All-Pro Series race on Friday evening, June 13.
The July 11-12 weekend will again feature the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race in a yet-unsponsored event, along with a NASCAR Goody's Dash Series event on Friday night.
The Indy Racing League returns to Sparta in August, but on a different weekend than in previous years. The IRL and its driver development league, the Infiniti Pro Series, will take over the track on Aug. 16-17, featuring the "Belterra Casino Indy 300." The race will again be televised live on ABC. The Infiniti Pro Series race, however, has been moved from Sunday to the preceding Saturday night.
Season tickets are available now at 1-888-652-RACE, the speedways main ticket office located at 2216 Dixie Hwy., Ste. 200, in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., and the Sparta, Ky. ticket office located in the tracks Turn 3 Fan Center. Single event tickets go on sale Monday, Jan. 6, at these, all Tickets.com and its retail outlets as well as at www.kentuckyspeedway.com. Log on to the site for complete schedule and ticket information.
(The following reports are from the Kentucky Speedway press office.)
Crafton, Kimmel to kick off single ticket sales Jan. 6
FT. MITCHELL, Ky.(December 2002) NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Matt Crafton and four-time ARCA RE/MAX Series champion Frank Kimmel are two of the drivers scheduled to appear at Kentucky Speedways Ft. Mitchell, Ky., ticket office at 2216 Dixie Hwy., Ste. 200, on Jan. 6.
The date marks the first day of ticket single-event ticket sales for the full 2003 speedway schedule. Tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. Drivers will sign autographs from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Single event tickets also will be available by phone at 1-888-652-RACE, online at both www.kentuckyspeedway.com and Tickets.com, and in person at all Tickets.com outlets in select Meijer, Hader Hardware and Play-it-Again Sports stores. Fans also can purchase tickets at the speedways Turn 3 Fan Center in Sparta, Ky.
Visit www.kentuckyspeedway.com for complete schedule and ticket information.
Kimmel crowned ARCA RE/MAX Series king at annual banquet
The ARCA RE/MAX Series officially closed its 50th Anniversary season by crowning Jeffersonville, Ind., native Frank Kimmel the first four-time champion in the clubs history.
Kimmel, who has won three of six career series events at Kentucky Speedway, accepted $180,000 in team and special award earnings to bring his 2002 total to $600,000, and his career earnings total to a record $2.25 million. Kimmel tallied an impressive 10 wins, 18 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes through 22 starts.
Bill Kimmel, the champions brother and crew chief, was awarded the Holley Performance Crew Chief of the Year Award and Clevite-Victor Reinz Engine Builder of the Year Award. Car owner Larry Clement also shared the spotlight as he moved into first-place on the all-time ARCA car owner wins list with 46, surpassing previous leader Harold Steele (41).
Special guests included RE/MAX International Vice President Randy Morse, NASCAR legend and NBC Race Analyst Benny Parsons, and long time Speed Sport News Editor Chris Economaki. Parsons received the prestigious ARCA Marcum Award, named for club founder John Marcum, and Economaki received the 2002 ARCA Motorsports Media Award. The banquet will air on SPEED Channel at 9 p.m. EST on Jan. 6.
Blount caps ARCA Rookie-of-the-Year season with NASCAR Busch Series announcement
(December 2002) Chad Blount, who won the ARCA RE/MAX Series Blue Grass Quality Meats 200 at Kentucky Speedway in July and finished second in overall points to champion Frank Kimmel, earned more than $90,000 en route to capturing 2002 Rookie of the Year honors.
Blounts car owner, Todd Braun, earned an additional $12,000 from Hoosier Racing Tire for winning the 2002 Superspeedway Challenge Championship. Blount joins Jason Jarrett, Kimmel, Jeremy Mayfield, Davey Allison and Benny Parsons as past recipients of the ARCA Rookie of the Year award.
Earlier in the week, Braun Racing announced Blount will move to the NASCAR Busch Series full-time in 2003 and run with new teammate Steadman Marlin.
Montgomery gets support from Alice Cooper
(December 2002) ARCA RE/MAX driver Chase Montgomery, who finished fourth in the 2002 series points standings, generated one of the most interesting notes from the annual series news conference by announcing he would return in 2003 with a team partly owned by renowned rock singer Alice Cooper.
Alice Cooper-Montgomery Racing is currently seeking a title sponsor and will unveil its new race team in February at Daytona. Former series champions Andy Hillenburg (1995) and Tim Steele (1993, 1996, 1997) both announced their plans to run the full 22 event ARCA RE/MAX schedule in 2003. Steele, who won Kentucky Speedways inaugural ARCA event in 2000, is third on the all-time wins list with 41. Frank Kimmel is second all-time with 43. Hillenburg is owner of the clubs official driving school, Fast Track, and returns to the series with a rich racing resume that includes 17 top-five and 36 top-10 career ARCA finishes as well as starts in The Indianapolis 500, NASCAR Winston Cup, NASCAR Busch and NASCAR Craftsman Truck series.
ARCA also announced that NASCAR Winston Cup regular Ken Schrader will drive in ARCA events at Toledo, South Boston, Va., and DuQuoin, Ill., in 2003. Schrader also will provide color commentary for SPEED Channel broadcasts of ARCA events held as companions to NASCAR Winston Cup events.
ARCA RE/MAX Series announces 2003 TV package
(December 2002) ARCA announced plans to televise 17 of 22 RE/MAX Series races in 2003 at its annual news conference. Thirteen events will be aired on SPEED Channel and four on The Outdoor Channel.
Ten SPEED Channel broadcasts will be aired live, while the three others will be aired via same-day delayed. Live RE/MAX Series races on SPEED Channel will include The Channel 5-205 from Kentucky Speedway on May 10, as well as events at Daytona, Atlanta, two at Nashville, two at Charlotte, the July race at Pocono Pa., Winchester, Ind. and Salem Ind.
The June event at Pocono and races at both Michigan and Talladega will be aired same-day tape delay. The Channel 5-205 also will air live locally in the Greater Cincinnati market on WLWT-TV 5. All Outdoor Channel broadcasts will be tape-delayed.
Outdoor Channel broadcasts will emanate from Toledo, Kansas, South Boston, Va., and DuQuoin, Ill. In addition, the ARCA Racing This Week weekly news-magazine show will air 26 editions on The Outdoor Channel during its fourth consecutive season. Visit www.arcaracing.com for complete schedule information.
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