AutoZone becomes Title Sponsor of NASCAR Elite Division
Leading Auto Parts Retailer to Support Four Regional Race Series on a Nationwide Basis
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Dec. 3, 2003) -- AutoZone (NYSE: AZO), the nation's leading auto parts retailer, will become the title sponsor of the NASCAR Elite Division, it was announced today. The Elite Division, which will now be re-named the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, consists of four individual racing series in four regions of the country -- Midwest, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest. The NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division features Late Model style cars competing on a variety of short tracks and superspeedways and serves as a feeder system to the NASCAR Grand National Division and NASCAR's three national series.
"The NASCAR Elite Division is an integral part of NASCAR, home to some of our very best competitors and an important training ground for developing drivers," said Brett Yormark, vice president of corporate marketing for NASCAR. "AutoZone will help this division continue to mold the careers of the future stars of NASCAR and provide thrilling racing for our most passionate fans. AutoZone is an ideal partner to take a national platform and activate it locally."
The agreement with AutoZone marks the first time all four NASCAR Elite Division series will be nationally sponsored.
"This is an incredible opportunity for AutoZone to establish a strong relationship with NASCAR's most avid fans," said Lisa Kranc, AutoZone's senior vice president of marketing. "We will be deeply involved in NASCAR on a national basis. As the title sponsor at more than 50 exciting racing events, we will have the chance in more than 3,200 AutoZone stores to create additional excitement around NASCAR racing."
The NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division serves as the first "tier" of NASCAR's regional racing program, which is designed to give competitors at local short tracks a path to advance their careers toward the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series or the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Once competitors have honed their skills in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, the next step is the NASCAR Grand National Division, which consists of the Busch North Series and the Winston West Series.
With this announcement, the four series names will change as follows: NASCAR Elite Division, Featherlite Southwest Series becomes NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series; NASCAR Elite Division, International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series becomes NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series; NASCAR Elite Division, Kodak Southeast Series becomes NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series; and NASCAR Elite Division, Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series becomes NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series.
AutoZone's sponsorship will bring additional enhancements to the teams, tracks and drivers in the four series. NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division events will be supported through in-store displays and local advertising. Additionally, AutoZone is planning an extensive at-track hospitality program for its customers.
"Our strategy is dedicated to creating the most exciting zone for vehicle solutions, said Kranc. "The entitlement to the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division provides an opportunity to market to consumers who are enthusiastic about vehicle performance and knowledgeable about preventative maintenance. This target is especially interested in exciting, innovative vehicle solutions that we can provide at AutoZone."
AutoZone stores carry "NASCAR Performance" products -- a family of more than 25 aftermarket brands such as Mobil 1 oil, Goodyear belts, Fel-Pro gaskets, Clevite bearings and Raybestos brakes that bear the NASCAR Performance brand mark.
In addition to the opportunity to reach NASCAR's brand-loyal fans, AutoZone was also drawn to NASCAR's focus on quality, according to Kranc.
"AutoZone strives to relentlessly bring value to our customers and to create the most exciting zone for vehicle solutions with the very best products and service," Kranc said. "We see in NASCAR an organization that is also relentless in maintaining the highest level of competition, week in and week out."
Nearly 250 race teams compete in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, at approximately 50 events annually. Many events are held in conjunction with NASCAR's three national series, providing additional media and fan exposure for these aspiring teams and drivers. Some of NASCAR's biggest stars began their careers in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division including Greg Biffle (Northwest), Jamie McMurray (Midwest), Kevin Harvick (Southwest) and Joe Nemechek (Southeast).
The top 10 drivers from each series will be brought together at the end of the season for the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, an invitation-only event that showcases NASCAR's top regional racers from around the country. The 2003 inaugural edition of the Toyota All-Star Showdown was held Nov. 6-8 at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway and included seven hours of live national television coverage on SPEED Channel.
The four series which comprise the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division compete under identical rules, with the same body, chassis, weight, wheelbase, engine and race procedures in all four series. The matching rules structure was put in place in 2003 to provide opportunities for the drivers from each series to compete in events in any of the other series, using the same race car.
As of August 30, 2003, AutoZone sells auto and light truck parts, chemicals and accessories through 3,219 AutoZone stores in 48 states plus the District of Columbia in the U.S. and 49 AutoZone stores in Mexico and also sells the ALLDATA brand automotive diagnostic and repair software. On the web, AutoZone sells diagnostic and repair information through www.alldatadiy.com and auto and light truck parts through www.autozone.com.
NASCAR has a broad reach with 1,800 racing events in 36 states at more than 110 tracks. The sanctioning body for stock car racing is headquartered in Daytona Beach, Fla., with offices in New York City (Corporate Marketing), Los Angeles (Broadcasting Media and Entertainment), Charlotte, N.C. (Licensing and Aftermarket), and Concord, N.C. (Research and Development Center).