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Speedvision Network Sponsors World Challenge

THE SPEEDVISION NETWORK NAMED WORLD CHALLENGE TITLE SPONSOR; FIVE-YEAR COMMITMENT TO BOOST NORTH AMERICA'S PREMIER PRODUCTION-BASED SERIES ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Speedvision Network has been named title sponsor for the World Challenge,...

THE SPEEDVISION NETWORK NAMED WORLD CHALLENGE TITLE SPONSOR; FIVE-YEAR COMMITMENT TO BOOST NORTH AMERICA'S PREMIER PRODUCTION-BASED SERIES

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Speedvision Network has been named title sponsor for the World Challenge, the result of a five-year agreement with SCCA Pro Racing that will provide a boost in promotion, increased television coverage and a prize money jump of 300 percent for North America's top production-based road racing series.

Speedvision's sponsorship begins with the 1999 Speedvision World Challenge season, the series' 10th year, and will feature new class names to better reflect the series' growing international presence and eligibility. The former T1 Class will become the World GT, offering competition between a variety of high-horsepower models including the Saleen/Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Viper, Acura NSX, BMW M series, Porsche 911 and Audi A4 Turbo. Cars competing in the World GT class will also be eligible to race at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the GT-3 class.

The high-revving former T2 Class will become the Touring class in 1999, offering close competition in light, nimble, highly modified production cars that include the Acura Integra, Honda Prelude, BMW 325/328/Z3, Saturn SC, Ford Contour, Pontiac Sunfire, Dodge Neon, Audi A4, Subaru Impreza, Mercury Cougar and Volkswagen Jetta, among others.

With 16 manufacturers represented by 30 different car models having contested the 1998 schedule, the World Challenge is a showcase for the world 's most exciting regular-production sports and touring cars -- highly modified for race performance -- in a fender-to-fender, sprint race format, offering fans a series featuring the performance-oriented cars they can actually buy in the showroom. Last season also saw 93 drivers score championship points, setting 29 records in the process, including nine new narrowest margins of victory, five fastest winner's speeds, eight new qualifying marks and seven new fastest race laps.

"Since our inception Speedvision has telecast a majority of the World Challenge races, and we've always been impressed by the series' phenomenal competition and talented drivers, the commitment of its entrants and the depth of its manufacturer diversity," said Roger Werner Jr., Speedvision Network President and CEO. "Professional road racing is a product that appeals to an educated and affluent customer -- a customer who relates to racing as a showcase and proving ground for the performance-oriented car he or she drives every day. We believe the future success of professional sports car racing directly depends on its ability to sell these performance cars and related automotive products. Now, in close partnership with SCCA Pro Racing, we'll utilize all of the positive aspects already present in the series -- and create significant new features and enhancements -- to bring the Speedvision World Challenge to the forefront of sports car racing and make this series the top motorsports marketing tool for auto manufacturers and aftermarket tuners."

Speedvision's title-sponsorship commitment to the World Challenge includes prime-time television coverage for every race on Speedvision and the Fox Sports Net, with multiple in-car cameras at each event; a 300 percent boost in the base purse to bring the prize fund to $650,000 (not including manufacturer or other contingency payouts), with $360,000 for the World GT and $290,000 for the Touring class; world-class "name" drivers in Speedvision-backed "Legends of Motorsports" entries; as well as extensive TV and print promotion to support the series' events.

"We believe it's time for someone with a vested interest in the long-term success of our sport to step forward with an alternative to multimillion-dollar pure-race GT cars, conflicting rules packages and multi-format series," added Werner. "That alternate is the Speedvision World Challenge. We have a successful model in our broadcasts of various European touring car series, and that's what we will be bringing to our coverage of the World Challenge in 1999 and beyond."

Although the class names will change there will be few rule changes for 1999, promising a continuation of the exciting, wheel-to-wheel action that has become a World Challenge hallmark and made the series a popular arena for manufacturers and aftermarket tuners to show off their products. In addition to the current depth of manufacturers and driving talent, new entries are also expected from Audi, Subaru and Mercury.

"Since its inception in 1990, the World Challenge has evolved to meet the needs of entrants, manufacturers and fans," said Mitch Wright, World Challenge Technical Director. "This series has always had tremendous potential, but it has also lacked the exposure necessary to attract a large fan base and get its story told. With Speedvision as title sponsor, the World Challenge will have all of the elements necessary to create a world-renowned sports car series."

The Stamford, Conn.-based Speedvision Network is America's first and only cable network dedicated to automobile, aviation, and marine information and entertainment. The 24-hour channel offers a wide range of programming -- from consumer news and information to historical documentaries, racing events and instructional shows -- and has grown to a subscriber base of 20 million households in just three years. The Fox Sports Net reaches 60 million households.

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