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The TACH Report: Sebring 12 Hour Stays With Pro SportsCar, NASCAR Winston Cup Tops In Sponsorship(TV) Exposure

29 January 1998

Don Panoz--zillionaire, inventor of the "no smoke patch," vitamin maker, and owner of Panoz sports cars, Road Atlanta, and Sebring Raceway--says he opts to stay with Professional SportsCar Racing, Inc as this sanctioning body for the 12 hour endurance race at Sebring (March 21 and 22). Pro SportsCar sactioned the race last year, and has TV rights. The enduro weekend will also feature a HSR vintage race on sunday afternoon after the "featch."

Joyce Julius resarch company puts out a "Sponsors Report," which analyses the value of TV exposure to companies sponsoring sports related events. Once again, NASCAR came in first, with sponsors receiving exposure valued at--if purchased at rate card from the networks--$1.1 billion. The companies that got the biggest bang for their buck were Valvoline, DuPont, and Chevrolet. There were 108 broadcasts of NASCAR's 32 Winston Cup events last year.

In Chicago, True Value Hardware Prexy Cotter put on the 22nd Salute to the Champions dinner at the Hyatt Regency. Charity proceeds went to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago, and the affair featured a star studded turnout from NASCAR, IRL, Drag Racing, USAC and CART. The awards bash was started to assist the Chicago kids clubs back in 1976. Yours truly conducted a series of racing oriented club affairs at the Lincoln Chicago Boys Club back in the late 1960s, and saw an end of year appreciation banquet take place to honor various drivers and racing industry sponsors.

The NHRA kicks in their 1998 race season this weekend at the Pomona, CA Fairplex; many of the top cats have been testing in Phoenix. While lady Top Fuel driver Cristen Powell was searching for speed and had a 216 mph pass, Kenny Bernstein turned in a 4.641 et at 320mph. He's ready.

Huntington Beach, CA automotive chemicals baron, Jerry Tolliver--who debuted his new Funny Car at Warner Bros. studios with associate sponsor Mad Magazine--is about ready to get his NHRA license. He'll have his wildly painted flopper at Pomona.

At Daytona this weekend former Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyck will drive a Ferrari with Didier Theys in the 24 hour fracas.

In NASCAR, Pontiac is primed for a big year and presented their new entries to the press recently. John Andretti will drive for Richard Petty, Loy Allen will drive for Richard Jackson, and Todd Bodine will be in a Pontiac.

At the IRL Walt Disney World race last weekend, an Infiniti motor powered one car . . . all the rest used Olds Aurora mills. Now BMW is making noises like they may join the fray with a 4 liter V8. It will cost $80,000 race ready.

In F-1, Jackie Stewart got a new sponsor: a division of Ford, Visteon Technology, a company with 78,000 employes has joined the global racing circus.

NASCAR is trying to slow down the racers at Atlanta Motor Speedway as the cars are hitting 200mph in the straights . . . unsafe. Tests with restrictor plates are planned.

Is Winston Cup big business or what? Robert Yates' team spent $20 million in 1997 and LOST money.

Winston Cuppers Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin are being inducted into the Arkansas sports hall of fame.

Two big time Formula One race teams have switched from Goodyears to Bridgestone rubber for this season . . . McLaren and Benetton.

Chrysler has announced a recall of one of the hottest selling sport utilities, the Dodge Durango: four of the new vehicles have caught on fire. The problem has something to do with the engine compartment, and effects 25,000 Durangos.

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel