The series that almost wasn't

By: Thomas Chemris Daytona Beach, Florida It was impossible to miss the two purple IROC transporters parked outside the ARCA garage at the Daytona International Speedway. Less than forty days ago, those same transporters sat in a lot in...

By: Thomas Chemris
Daytona Beach, Florida

It was impossible to miss the two purple IROC transporters parked outside the ARCA garage at the Daytona International Speedway. Less than forty days ago, those same transporters sat in a lot in Tinton Falls New Jersey, only they were painted white and emblazed with True Value.

True Value, the hardware chain that previously sponsored the IROC series announced during speed weeks 2003 that they would not renew as title sponsor, and the search began for a corporation to tag its name with the racing all star series.

As the year progressed, numerous meetings, presentations, leads, but no commitment.

"We were worried, noted George Signore, director of public relations for IROC.

"We had deadlines, that we kept extending." Signore acknowledge that without sponsorship, the series would have shut down.

"It was amazing the amount of support we received from the racing community", noted Signore. We would get call from drivers, asking how they could help, or if they needed them to contact someone. 2003 series Champion Kurt Busch made himself available to attend marketing presentations with potential sponsors.

However, as time passed, IROC had to face the hard reality that it needed to formulate a business plan for 2004 that did not include the all-star competition.

"We were looking into different situations that would have been different than IROC it was a different type of situation, we were looking into diversifying, what we could do with the cars, figuring out how would we structure the employees. We pushed the envelope, and this thing fell out of the sky"

Crown Royal did not exactly fall out of the sky, IROC had been discussing sponsorship possibilities with the company since 1998, but it was not until early December that the deal began to materialize.

Much to the credit of the IROC staff, in a window of less than forty days drivers were contracted, cars painted, uniforms designed ordered and delivered, public relations information prepared, change in venues, and change in format, and the big purple trailers all came together as Daytona loomed.

In many ways IROC has re-invited itself. Teaming with Action Performance, drivers will have a paint scheme that runs through the season, making die cast available throughout the season. Drivers will still have a random draw of vehicles and crew, however the graphic stripes and car number from their primary series car will emblazon the car. except for the defending champion who will have the number one car with crown royal colors.

More significantly, the new champion will walk away from the series one million dollars richer. The re-incarnation also includes two new venues, Atlanta, and the Richmond International Raceway.

Television coverage will switch to speed, that will also include live broadcast of selected events

Jay Signore, President of IROC chuckled when he confidently announced, I knew we would find something in December, that is just how it goes"

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