Report from Motorsport News International NASCAR Public Relations Erving, Washington to form team CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 21, 1997) "It's kind of like Tiger Woods going with the PGA," said Julius "Dr. J" Erving of his new involvement in ...
Report from Motorsport News International
NASCAR Public Relations
Erving, Washington to form team
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 21, 1997) "It's kind of like Tiger Woods going with the PGA," said Julius "Dr. J" Erving of his new involvement in NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing with his partner, former NFL stand-out Joe Washington. The duo announced the formation of Washington Erving Motorsports, the first wholly minority-owned, full-time racing team in the last 25 years of NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing. "We've spoken with several potential sponsors already and there is plenty of interest in this program," said Washington, who did not announce who the driver or sponsor would be for the new team. "We plan to have another announcement in a few weeks that will have a lot of interest to you all." The team intends to debut on the race track with a NASCAR Winston Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division team during 1998 SpeedWeeks at Daytona International Speedway next February. Washington Erving Motorsports reached an agreement with Ford Motor Company for their NASCAR teams to field Fords. The team's contract with Ford provides some financial assistance to the program, as well as technical help and counsel from Ford's SVO (Special Vehicle Operations) division. But, according to Washington, it wasn't finances that brought Washington Erving and Ford together. "This deal was not about money. It's about two companies who have similar ideas about how they see this program working," said Washington. "When we first talked to Ford, they showed genuine interest not only in the on-track program, but also in the marketing ideas and opportunities that we see off the track." Washington and Erving join former NBA Cleveland Cavaliers Center Brad Daugherty and former NFL coach Joe Gibbs in team ownership. Daugherty is an active owner in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and Gibbs is the owner of Bobby Labonte's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Interstate Batteries Pontiac. One of the new team's main goals is to provide more opportunities for minorities in the world of motorsports, but Washington stressed that the is interested in hiring the best people available as it gets up and running. "We're in this sport to win," he said. "We want to compete week-in and week-out and we know to do that in NASCAR we have to have some experienced people. We do want to provide opportunities for minorities with this program, and we fully intend to, but we want to do it in the context of having a successful team as quickly as possible. "Obviously, having a minority crew chief or a minority driver right now would be great, but we're also realistic about this. We're looking to create opportunities, through something like a 'farm' system, so that those dreams can someday become reality." The most well-known minority team in NASCAR racing is likely that of Virginian Wendell Scott, who competed, in a Ford, into the early 1970's. Scott, who is credited with winning one NASCAR race, in Jacksonville, Fla., is the only minority driver to have ever posted a win in one of NASCAR's top divisions. His family was on hand to offer support for the Washington and Erving venture. "We want to do all that we can to support this program," said Sybil Scott, daughter of the late driver. "We are honored that these men want to carry on the legacy of my father, who was a pioneer in this sport. Since the numbers worn in competition by Joe (Washington) and Dr. J are already in use, it would honor us to see my father's No. 34 on the Washington Erving car." Erving would not confirm that the number 34 would be used. "We have applied to NASCAR for a number," said Erving, a former Philadelphia 76er. "We're waiting for the approval and will announce it later. "This venture into NASCAR is exciting for us," continued Erving. "We have been well received by everyone from Bill France right on down the line." Although the team does not yet have a race shop, they are actively looking for an existing shop to lease to begin construction on their stable of cars for next season and hope to build their own new shop somewhere in the Winston-Salem/Greensboro/High Point, N.C. area.
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