Earnhardts to race in Coca-Cola 500 in Japan ATLANTA (Aug. 26, 1998) Coca-Cola Classic is delivering the hottest father and son duo in NASCAR to racing fans. Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will race head-to-head for the first time at the...
Earnhardts to race in Coca-Cola 500 in Japan
ATLANTA (Aug. 26, 1998) Coca-Cola Classic is delivering the hottest father and son duo in NASCAR to racing fans. Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will race head-to-head for the first time at the Coca-Cola 500 in Motegi, Japan on Nov. 22. To mark this historic event, both Earnhardts will drive special Coca-Cola race cars.
The Earnhardts were joined Wednesday morning at "World of Coca-Cola" by executives from the Coca-Cola Company, NASCAR and Action Performance Companies, Inc. for the unveiling of the actual cars to be driven in the Coca-Cola 500 race at the new Twin Ring Motegi oval. Dale Earnhardt's red No. 3 car features the signature Coca-Cola Red Disk Icon and NASCAR-themed checkered contour bottle. The famous Coca-Cola polar bear is highlighted on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s black No. 1 car.
"My dad is the reason I am in this sport and he's someone I have always looked up to, not only as my dad but as a great race car driver," Earnhardt Jr. said. "The biggest thing I'm thinking about right now is our team getting some cars ready that will be competitive. It might be really weird the first time I try to pass him on the track if I get a chance to pass him. But, it's something that will be exciting for both of us I'm sure."
"The one time I raced against my dad (Ralph Earnhardt) was at a dirt track," Earnhardt said. "I was racing this guy, and my dad, who was leading the race, came up behind me and I couldn't figure out what he was doing. Finally he started bumping me so I figured I better hold the car straight. He pushed me by this guy and I beat him, then dad drove on past me.
"I got one exciting time racing with my dad and it was pretty neat. I would have liked to have done more of it. It is exciting to see Dale Jr. grow into the sport and it will be a great experience to race him in Japan. However, it wouldn't look very good for him to beat his good old dad, now would it?"
"This is our third year of NASCAR racing in Japan and our first appearance on an oval track with Twin Ring Motegi," said Brian France, senior vice president of NASCAR. "The Japanese fans will get to witness something special when Dale and Dale Jr. take the green flag. I know every race fan back in the states will be watching the father/son matchup on TBS."
The announcement of this first race with both Earnhardt and Earnhardt Jr. comes during a season in which both drivers have reached career milestones. Earnhardt, the seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion, achieved a significant career goal with his first Daytona 500 victory this past February. Earnhardt Jr. has taken the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division by storm, winning five races and leading in the point standings.
"NASCAR fans have been waiting to see Dale and Dale Jr. race on the same track for quite a while, and we are happy to be a part of this history-making event," said Jack Stahl, president, Coca-Cola USA. "Bringing friends and family together is what the Coca-Cola Racing Family is all about, and having this great father and son team race at the Coca-Cola 500 is a perfect way to cap our first year as the Official Soft Drink of NASCAR."
The company's involvement with the Coca-Cola 500 in Japan highlights its commitment to work together with NASCAR to develop international programs for the sport. Although the Coca-Cola 500 takes place thousands of miles away, diehard racing fans will be able to tune in to TBS Superstation race coverage. In addition, fans and collectors in the U.S. will be able to experience the excitement of this once-in-a-lifetime event thanks to Action Performance, the industry leader in motorsports-related product licensing and merchandising.
Action Performance has created a vast array of exclusive Coca-Cola/Earnhardt merchandise and apparel that will hit mass retail department stores nationwide beginning October 1998. Fans may also purchase the collectibles at upcoming NASCAR racing events and order merchandise through the Racing Collectibles Club of America (beginning Thursday).
"Our partnership with Coca-Cola is an example of how Action is using its full-service marketing capabilities to capture additional opportunities for creating new product lines, merchandising programs and marketing and distribution channels," said Fred Wagenhals, Action Performance chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Our abilities, added to the worldwide recognition of Coca-Cola and the legendary appeal of the Earnhardt name, will give race fans one of the most exciting programs in years."
In addition to the Earnhardt's father and son debut, other firsts at the Twin Ring Motegi race track include the first-time sponsorship of the exhibition race by Coca-Cola Japan Company and the inaugural running of the NASCAR event at the new 1.5-mile oval.
As members of the Coca-Cola Racing Family, Earnhardt and Earnhardt Jr. have participated in a wide range of initiatives on behalf of Coca-Cola designed to link racing fans to their favorite sport. Fans can spot Coca-Cola Racing Family members on Coca-Cola vending machines, in-store displays, on commemorative Coca-Cola contour bottles, in pre-feature entertainment at local cinemas and much more. Other Coca-Cola Racing Family members include Dale Earnhardt's wife, Teresa; Dale Jarrett, his father, Ned, and son, Jason; Kyle Petty , his wife Patty and son, Adam; as well as Bobby Labonte; Bill Elliott; Jeff Burton; Ricky Rudd; Steve Park; and Kenny Irwin.
Source: NASCAR Online