Legendary Drivers Honored in Ceremony; Nearly a Quarter-Million Votes Cast by Fans HAMPTON, Ga. (October 28, 2005) -- After nearly three decades of championship racing, the International Race of Champions (IROC) and title sponsor Crown Royal...
Legendary Drivers Honored in Ceremony;
Nearly a Quarter-Million Votes Cast by Fans
HAMPTON, Ga. (October 28, 2005) -- After nearly three decades of championship racing, the International Race of Champions (IROC) and title sponsor Crown Royal made history today by announcing its first ever all-time IROC team dubbed the "Crown Royal IROC Legends of Victory Lane." Mario Andretti, the late Dale Earnhardt, Scott Pruett and Steve Kinser were named to the all-time team and were honored in a ceremony held at the year's final IROC race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The all-time IROC team represents the three main racing disciplines -- open-wheel, stock car and road racing. Andretti (open-wheel), Earnhardt (stock car) and Pruett (road racing) garnered the most fan votes to win their respective categories, while Kinser (open-wheel) earned the fans' wild card selection by amassing the most votes among all categories outside of the three winners. Nearly a quarter-million votes were cast during the five-month voting period.
The four members of the Legends of Victory Lane team were presented with a custom crystal trophy by IROC Series President Jay Signore and Crown Royal Senior Brand Manager James Lorenz.
"These four drivers truly epitomize the rich heritage of the Crown Royal IROC Series over the past 30 years," said Signore. "Since 1973, there have been more than 120 champion drivers who have competed in IROC, and it's a true honor for these Legends to have been chosen by the fans, which have provided the IROC Series with overwhelming support through the years."
Fans voted for the Legends team from a list of 12 finalists selected by a veteran, three-person media panel, which has covered motorsports for a combined 100-plus years. Finalists were determined by panel nominations based primarily on drivers' IROC career performance and included: Andretti, Kinser, Al Unser Jr. and Bobby Unser (open-wheel); Earnhardt, Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin and Cale Yarborough (stock car); and Pruett, Hurley Haywood, Tom Kendall and Mark Donohue (road racing).
From April to September, fans 21 years of age and older had the opportunity to vote for one driver in each of three categories by visiting kiosks stationed at the Crown Royal Experience at NASCAR events or via the Internet at www.crownroyalracing.com.
"Crown Royal is honored to have partnered with the IROC Series on this historical program that credits these renowned drivers for their achievements and amazing contributions to racing," said James Lorenz, Senior Brand Manager, Crown Royal. "The Crown Royal IROC Legends of Victory Lane initiative was designed with the fans in mind, and their tremendous response resulted in the casting of nearly a quarter-million votes."
A brief overview of the Crown Royal IROC Legends of Victory Lane team:
With a racing career spanning over 30 years, Andretti retired in 1994 holding Indy car records for most career starts (407), pole positions (67) and laps led (7,587). He had 52 career wins, and is the only Indy car driver to be champion in three different decades. Andretti's six-year IROC career included three victories, capped by the 1979 series championship.
Known as "The Intimidator" for his aggressive driving style, Earnhardt won a total of seven NASCAR Cup titles and was the only six-time Busch Clash winner over his 26-year career. He totaled 76 career NASCAR Cup victories and earned over $40 million in winnings. Earnhardt's 11 IROC victories and four IROC championships during his 17-year IROC career placed him second all-time.
Pruett has built a solid, multidisciplinary racing career that has resulted in numerous championships over his distinguished career, including last year's Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Championship. His accolades also include: three-time SCCA Trans Am winner (1987, '94, 2003); two-time IMSA GTO champion (1986, '88); and the '86 IMSA GT Endurance title. He is currently wrapping up his eighth year of racing in IROC, where he has accumulated two IROC wins.
Kinser, nicknamed "The King of Outlaws," won his 19th World of Outlaws drivers championship in 2004. The National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in association with National Speed Sport News has acknowledged Kinser as the"Greatest Sprint Car Driver Ever." In only his third IROC race, Kinser became the first open-wheel short track driver to win an IROC event when doing so at Talladega Superspeedway in 1994.
In its second year as title sponsor, Crown Royal continues to promote responsible drinking with its "Be a Champion. Drink Responsibly." campaign. At the conclusion of the Atlanta race, the IROC champion is awarded a $1 million first-place purse from Crown Royal. Martin, winner of the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway in February and IROC Race #3 at Richmond International Raceway in September, leads the current Crown Royal IROC points standings. Champ Car World Series driver Sebastien Bourdais claimed Race #2 at Texas Motor Speedway in April.