Crown Royal named official sponsor of the International Race of Champions series.

Tinton Falls, NJ (Jan. 15, 2004) 0x2022 The International Race of Champions announced today the signing of a multi-year agreement with Crown Royal to be the official title sponsor of the IROC Series for 2004 and beyond.

IROC is auto racing's All-Star Game. It is an invitational racing series that matches 12 drivers from different disciplines of auto racing in equally prepared cars on Goodyear Eagle radial racing tires. The Series consists of four 100-mile races with points awarded for finishing positions. At the end of the fourth race, points are tallied and a champion of champions is named.

The 2004 Crown Royal International Race of Champions schedule will include the traditional Speedweeks opener at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Friday, Feb. 13. New venues are in the works for the remainder of the season including, Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday, April 2., and Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va., on Thursday, September 9. IROC is also finalizing a fall date for the Crown Royal IROC Championship finale at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Atlanta, Ga. IROC is in negotiations with Fox/Speed Channel to televise all four events.

With the new Crown Royal sponsorship comes a significant increase in the Series' prize money. The purse for the 2004 IROC season will be $1.9 million including $1 million to the Series champion. This is a major increase from the 2003 season in which the champion received $250,000 and represents the highest payout for a Series Champion in IROC history.

"Motor sports lines up very nicely with the Crown Royal consumer and we think there is a strong future for our brand in the International Race of Champions Series," said Rob Warren, Vice President, Marketing, North American Whisky at Diageo. "We are excited about the improvements made to the 2004 series and we look forward to providing the kind of support that will help IROC grow. Our brand team will be very involved in this program and we will use our IROC sponsorship to extend our responsibility messaging and increase overall awareness of the Crown Royal brand."

IROC President, Jay Signore said, "We are very proud and excited to have Crown Royal as the new title sponsor of the International Race of Champions. We've been working very hard throughout the last year to develop new ideas and to find the right partner who would share in our vision of growth for the series. We couldn't have asked for a better opportunity than this one with Crown Royal. We're working with top-notch people, and a top-shelf brand. Crown Royal is a champion brand in a champion's series, with a serous message attached, and that is: Be a Champion. Drink Responsibly, which will appear on all the race cars, drivers suits, and other materials associated with the series."

Another big change taking place in 2004 will be the appearance of the Crown Royal IROC cars. Instead of the history-long tradition of drivers having different color cars and numbers, representing their position in the point standings, at each of the four races, a color scheme and car number, representing the driver's native series team, will be assigned pre-season and will remain with the driver throughout the four events. The pre-assigned color and utilizing the driver's team number will better enhance tracking and recognizing the individual competitors throughout the season. The traditional process of a blind draw will still take place among the lot of Crown Royal IROC race cars brought to each event. After the draw, color graphics and numbers will be applied to the field of race cars.

Signore continued, "We're very excited about all the new elements for 2004. The driver line-up is impressive, which we will be announcing shortly. We're also very excited about our negotiations with Speed Channel and the 2004 race tracks, which will include night racing and possibly, some live broadcasts. For the IROC Series, having all of these new and exciting elements taking place in addition to the Crown Royal sponsorship is like striking gold and purple."

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