All-Star Challenge press conference, part 1

NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge Press Conference Transcript Most Memorable Moments Part 1 of 3 JERRY GAPPENS: My name is Jerry Gappens, the vice president of public relations here at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Glad to have you out in ...

NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge Press Conference Transcript

Most Memorable Moments
Part 1 of 3

JERRY GAPPENS: My name is Jerry Gappens, the vice president of public relations here at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Glad to have you out in great weather. Humpy is testing the weather to make sure we can find a perfect day for those ten days of racing we have coming up here in a week or so, so everything looks good.

We appreciate you coming out, appreciate the fine folks at Levy Restaurants doing a great job for lunch with the picnic environment that we had out here. This is our Fleetwood camping facility. This will be filled obviously with race fans in a week or so. And this pavilion is actually used for various functions, first time we have done a press conference over here, but it's worked out real well. The Speedway Club was booked full with all of its rooms, which is good news for all of us, and the infield is still being constructed. So we came over here, and this has worked out great. We appreciate that.

As you know, we have testing going on, day two of NASCAR Busch Series testing during the day, and of course the NASCAR NEXTEL CUP teams will resume testing again today at 4:00. Paul Menard has the distinction of being the first driver to test the new safer barriers which were completed last week. He hit in between turns three and four right before lunch today. The good news is, he was able to walk away from the accidents, no injuries, and the wall looks fine, but he hit it pretty good, so that's why we put them up. Unfortunately he's the first guy to test them. So Paul Menard did that earlier today.

Also, though they are not part of the formal program, I wanted to take a moment to mention the Quaker State Lube folks are with us today. They are going to be respond organize our ARCA Remax Race coming up during Coke 600 next week. Lance Lear and Ed Randal from those folks are here. And right next to them, he's the Tony the Tiger Kellogg's people where they black out the face, you can't really see them, is J.C., the Internet guru who has done so much for race fans with his Internet site. He's going to be the grand marshal for that event.

On May 18th he'll have the doors open and it's going to be quite a facility, and I think race fans and all of us are going to enjoy it. They are going to have a reception on May 24 from 6:00 to 9:00, that's on Monday after the NEXTEL All Star Challenge from 6:00 to 9:00. So J.C. will buy you some beers and we'll eat some wings together.

Speaking of Miller, we're getting ready to start race weeks here. Obviously Miller Brewing Company is an important part of the Lowe's Motor Speedway family, and to expand on that relationship, with us this afternoon, we have Jonathan Gibson, the senior marketing manager from Miller Brewing Company with a couple key announcements, not only his relationship of the Speedway but their involvement with the NEXTEL All Star Challenge. Jonathan?

JONATHAN GIBSON: First of all, let me say thank you to the folks from Lowe's Motor Speedway for including us in that announcement today. We are very delighted to become the official beer of Lowe's Motor Speedway, marking a 25 year partnership where both Lowe's Motor Speedway and Miller Brewing Company have brought race fans the best excitement across the circuit on this Speedway. Miller and Lowe's share a common bonds growing up together over the NASCAR's history while it's grown into one of the most popular sports in the country.

Miller and Lowe's will continue to work together to provide fun to the race fans in a responsible manner moving forward. This year, we are really excited about the plan we put together with Lowe's Motor Speedway. We are putting together a full arsenal stuff to take to retail and take to the consumer in this region. One of those things the Miller Lite Party Deck, which is going to be on the back stretch where 100 legal drinking age drinking consumers can win a spot to watch the race from the back stretch on our Party Deck and enjoy food and beverage.

In addition to the Party Deck, we have the second annual Miller Lite Rock and Racing Concert, which will take place at 3:00 P.M. prior to the NEXTEL All Star Challenge with the band live, and consumer winners will be able to get a VIP experience of that, as well.

And lastly, and what I would like to say most importantly, we've got Rusty Wallace driving the Vote Miller for President of Beers car in both the All Star Challenge and the Coca Cola 600, part of our national campaign and due to our strong association with Lowe's Motor Speedway and the importance of this track, the entire circuit, we call it the two races where we wanted to bring that campaign to life on Rusty's car. With all that said, I want to thank Lowe's for our participation over the last 25 years, and looking forward to a great race experience over the next two weeks. (Applause).

JERRY GAPPENS: It's appropriate that Rusty is going to be driving the Vote for Miller campaign car, with his politics and lobbying he got the format of the All Star Race changed, so he's a good politician. And Rusty is going to join us here in a minute on the telecom line, so we'll be able to hear from Rusty with what they are doing, and we appreciate Miller doing that. That will be a great experience for the fans.

Next up as part of the as you know, part of the All Star Weekend last year, we brought in for the first time the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series to round out the All Star Pole Night activities and make that the feature event on Friday night. It's really turned out great, and they are back again this year.

And we're happy to announce we have got a partner to help present that race and do some great things here in our community about helping us promote the race and bring some folks in and to update us on that announcement. It's my pleasure to bring up Cristoph Liedtke who is with Infineon. He handled their director of media relations and their corporate communications, just met him today, talked to him on the phone. You are going to notice with the accent, he's not from around here, he's originally from Germany, but works out the California office. They are part of the SMI family with their relationship with Infineon Raceway. We are glad to have their whole staff being here on All Star Weekend. Cristoph, tell us what you are doing.

CRISTOPH LIEDTKE: Thanks, Jerry, I really have to admire you, you almost pronounce it right. Thank you for the opportunity to announce our sponsorship of the Infineon 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. We are really thrilled for this opportunity to have the title sponsorship of this exciting event. Some of you may know in Infineon's involvement in motor sport racing in Europe, as well as the U.S. We have a long history and it has been an essential part of our brand building we have a strong technology corporation with the Formula 1 Ferrari team in Europe.

Why is that the case? Why are we doing this? As you may know, we are No. 2 worldwide in automotive electronics. We are No. 1 in Europe. What does it mean for you? It means that every each new car that rolls off the production line has approximately 20 chips inside, just to break that down and make it more concrete, so each and every air bag and abs system in the new car is probably powered by two Infineon censors inside.

We already have a very successful partnership with the SMI at the Infineon Raceway in California, and the relationship has been going on for two years and growing awareness in the Bay Area. We are approximately employed by 3,000 people in the U.S. right now. 2,000 of them are actually East Coast based, not West Coast based. So far, they have never had an opportunity really sort of participate in our excitement for race sponsoring.

We just opened up an expansion office in Raleigh, the research triangle area where we will create 400 new high tech jobs in North Carolina. And we have a state of the art manufacturing plant in Richmond, Virginia with 1,800 jobs, and we have just announced that we are going to invest another $1 billion into that facility to build a state of the art manufacturing and create another 800 high tech jobs.

The sponsorship of the Infineon 200 Truck Race is a new opportunity to offer an exciting event to our dedicated employees over here. We will have approximately 500 Infineon employees traveling here both from Richmond, as well as from Raleigh, to joining us for the race here. And we are also very happy to help the YMCA's in the greater Charlotte and the triangle community with a donation of 1,000 tickets to their valuable community development programs. And that's also part of our history that we try to become fairly good corporate citizens in the regions where we are creating jobs and that is part of our activities over here.

Finally, we use this extraordinary venue, the Lowe's Motor Speedway to further strengthen our relationships with key customers on the East Coast. All in all, it's a lot of value and excitement and we will get we will get for our Infineon 200 sponsorship, and we will look forward to welcome you all back to the race. Thank you very much. (Applause).

JERRY GAPPENS: Did you hear that accent? He did say y'all. He's blending in already. Part of the weekend, obviously with that and running in that Infineon 200 will be NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Rick Crawford, and he is here with us to say a few words. Rick?

RICK CRAWFORD: We are looking forward to running that race, too, especially coming back here to Lowe's Motor Speedway. You know, Bobby Wheeler has always said driving a race car is not rocket science. I had to ask what a semiconductor was, and they are sponsoring the race. So maybe it's a change. Next thing I'd like to add is, I've got a handkerchief the other day and somebody done cut it up with a pair of scissors. I guess that was a yellow flag. I couldn't use that. You go in these races like these NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races. We are going to race till the checkered flag falls.

Proud to be here. Thanks to Infineon sponsoring the NASCAR crafts. It's great to be back at Lowe's Motor Speedway, especially NEXTEL CUP All Star Race Weekend, and I'm sure the fans and the media and everybody will see an exciting race. I'm glad to be part of it.

JERRY GAPPENS: Thank you, Rick, and that should be a great weekend. We're ready to move on to the reason we came. As you know we are getting ready to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the NEXTEL All Star Challenge. It's provided so many great memories, so we decided to work with NASCAR and NEXTEL and put together panels to vote on the top three moment memorable moments and we are going to unveil those here right now. The panel consisted of two promoters and I won't keep them anonymous, Humpy Wheeler. The other promoter is Mike Helton, he promoted the only All Star event that ran away from the Speedway down in Atlanta, and Mike was the general manager of Atlanta Motor Speedway and promoted that event so Mike had a vote. We had a couple NEXTEL CUP drivers who had been in all but one of the races who cast a vote and with the media we went to Tom Higgins, Pappy Higgins cast his vote because he's retired, either covered or watched every event so he voted on it as well. We are about to see the results of that voting.

Talking about the panel we have up here, we'll get into that, you guys can almost guess what these votes turned out to be by the personnel we have up front here. But we are going to go ahead and start with the unveiling and show you the clip from the third most memorable moment in All Star history. We'll role the tape right now. (Video played).

That's known as the "Tide Slide." It happened at turn four in 1989. Of course Rusty Wallace involved , do we have Rusty on the phone?


JERRY GAPPENS: Now, you're lucky, because Darrell is on his way to Maryland so he's not with us, but we got Jeff Hammond so you have to be careful what you say, but I know you guys can't rumble here because there's some mileage separating. Since you're the elder statesman of the two, we're going to let you talk about that, that moment that was created right there in a split spec.

RUSTY WALLACE: It was a heck of a race, no doubt about that. Darrell had a great car and I had a great car. I believe I won the first segment. And back then, what I remember, we used to run biased flat tires in those days. We hit pit road and when we started the second segment my guys put the right front tire on the right rear and the right rear on the right front and my car was just loose as heck.

Darrell blew me off that second segment, won the race, and the third segment we got the tires back on that thing right. And I caught him going into turn three and it was just one of those real nervy moves I made. I drove it down in there, the front end is pushing, I said, stay in the throttle, maybe it will stick, it didn't stick. I got up in the quarterpanel, caused one big wreck and one big fight. It was a memorable moment, no doubt about that.

Gosh, it what was an exciting race. I think that people around always remember how much excitement heck, there was so much excitement. They were fighting in the pit area. Next morning John Boy and Billy already created a song overnight about it. It was something.

JERRY GAPPENS: We were talking, one of the most famous quotes in rising came from Darrell when he said, "I hope" he, meaning you, "choke on that $200,000 that you won for winning that race." Did it make you mad?

RUSTY WALLACE: I think at that point I was pretty young and cocky back then. My reply was, don't worry about it, I won't. I remember taking the money home, and I remember there was so much stuff going on that night with my family being nervous and everybody wanting to kill me, and all the excitement going on, Humpy sent two security guards home that night with me. I'll never forget waking up next morning, my little daughter Katie, ran into me and says, "Dad, what's there two policeman down in the bedroom downstairs in the house for"? I said, "Long story, I'll tell you about it later." But it was something.

JERRY GAPPENS: And Jeff, you want to pipe in right here?

JEFF HAMMOND: Where do you start, because, you know it's the first time I think I've ever heard Rusty actually admit he tested because early on he said he never tested. I remember when he brought the car back to the 600 the next week, we did a little pluck and buck on the front nose of the car. We left a dent in there that actually got put in the quarterpanel when Rusty did get to us. I remember calling Bill on the radio and he wasn't real happy about my comment when I keyed a button, says, did he do what I thought he just did? I said, you've got to ask? He was hot. But the situation after that, I guess you have to say, was pretty monumental. I think Humpy probably really like the because he was able to pick a couple sparring partners after that big fray in the infield afterwards because between Rusty's team, my team and his security guards, it got real hot and heavy down there real quick.

All and all, I think this is what the Winston has always been about is the passion or the determination of guys like Rusty and Darrell and some of the other members that have won over there, or drivers that have won at Charlotte have all been about either driving their guts out for pride more than anything else. The money is great, but I think it's something about winning the All Star Race that means so much to you, and the reason I sit up here and I can and say that, I think a lot of people forget I was a crew chief in 1985 when we ran the inaugural Winston and won it against Harry Gant.

So, I know the significance of winning this race. I know the pride and effort we put into this trying to win the first one. I know Junior Johnson, we tested down there probably, back then it was unrestricted, so we probably tested eight or nine times especially for that first race.

Part 2


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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Rusty Wallace , Rick Crawford , Paul Menard , Mike Helton , Harry Gant