Friday Post Banquet Notes

NEW YORK (Dec. 5, 1998) Notes and quotes following Friday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Awards Banquet from the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel: According to a piece in Forbes magazine, three-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon is "one of...

NEW YORK (Dec. 5, 1998) Notes and quotes following Friday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Awards Banquet from the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel:

According to a piece in Forbes magazine, three-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon is "one of the most sought-after endorsers in professional sports" -- behind only National Basketball Association star Michael Jordan, Professional Golf Association standout Tiger Woods and fellow linksman Arnold Palmer.

At the peak of his career with no limit in sight, Gordon has a "sky's-the-limit" outlook for the near future. The Forbes article estimated Gordon's endorsement and licensing income at $8.3 million this year. It cited Gordon's sales ability, including a recent Pepsi "point of sale" campaign that gave retailers a choice of "athlete pitchmen to adorn in-store displays." Almost 27,000 chose Gordon -- 10,000 more than second-place Deion Sanders. Unilever's Close-Up toothpaste, another of Gordon's endorsed products, had to increase production by 40 percent "when orders started flooding in from retailers" throughout the country. Yes, NASCAR sells.

NASCAR President Bill France perhaps gave the perfect summation of Gordon's big night, in which the champ received a check for more than $4 million from Andy Schindler of Winston, which pushed his season winnings to a record $9,306,584. France cited a Friday visit he made to the New York Times with Gordon for an interview, saying, "There's no question in my mind that this man is going to represent this sport in a first-class manner in the coming year."

Schindler, president and CEO of the series sponsor R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., presented a Bean ceramic sculpture in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary celebration to France. The piece displayed the NASCAR 50th Anniversary logo as well as examples of a car from each of the five decades of NASCAR racing.

Michael Waltrip said at the Waldorf-Astoria Friday night that he still has his full NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division operation intact and plans to maintain it at least until the end of the year. In the meantime he is trying to secure a deal to replace Rhodes Furniture as a backer for Michael Waltrip Racing's "second" team. He said Band-Aid, "a great sponsor," is in place for 17 races in 1999 on his own No. 21 Ford Taurus.

"We've got a few irons in the fire and we're trying to put something in place," Waltrip said of the No. 14 car that was piloted in 1998 by Patty Moise. "We don't have to do it, but we want to if we can."

France gave his annual "state-of-NASCAR" remarks Thursday at the sanctioning body's press conference at the Waldorf-Astoria.

"Our long-term strategy," France said, "includes a powerful marketing and public relations program to advance the sport. When I say advance the sport, I mean to move it to its rightful place along with football, baseball, basketball and hockey ... We are determined to see our sport get the acknowledgement and prestige it deserves. There's no sport that has anything over NASCAR."

Dale Jarrett made a point of thanking Phoenix surgeon Dr. James Magary, who performed surgery on Jarrett's gall bladder within two days of the NAPA 500 season finale on Nov. 8, in his banquet remarks. Jarrett said on Thursday that he initially hurt more than he expected in the first two days immediately following the surgery. However, before a week had passed, Jarrett, an avid golfer, was out hitting golf balls.

Mark Martin had no trouble biting the bullet on Friday night when he said his "career season," and point total that would have won the NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship in each of the last 16 years, was no problem to him.

"We sleep easy knowing we did our best," Martin said.

And bravely citing his father's death in August in a private plane crash, he closed by saying the event, which also took the life of his stepmother and half-sister, had made him "a better person." Looking ahead, he said in 1999 he planned to be "a good person, a good father to Matt, and a good husband to Arlene. If there's a championship for that, I hope to be in the running."

The "True Value Man of the Year Award" was presented as the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Awards Banquet got underway. Awarded for public service, the award's quarterly nominees included Sterling Marlin, Jeff Gordon and Bill Elliott; and the winner was Kyle Petty, who once again organized his cross-country motorcycle ride for charity.

"This is not about Kyle Petty, or the Kyle Petty man of the year award," Petty said humbly, citing athletes who rode in his event. "It's about Geoff Bodine and Morgan Shepherd and Harry Gant and Richard Petty and Diane Hough of the Winston Cup Racing Wives Auxiliary -- they all did a lot to make the ride happen."

And Petty left the crowd of more that 1400 a message he felt epitomized his public service efforts; he quoted from Winston Churchill: "You make a living with what you get, but you make a life with what you give."

Jeff Burton cited his mother, sort of, after he accepted a Winston point fund check for about $350,000.

"Mom used to always question me about how you could make a living racing cars," Burton said, waving the check. "I guess mom doesn't always know best."

Then, making note of the big check the series champion was to get later in the evening, Burton said, "imagine how wrong Gordon's mom was."

Jeremy Mayfield said his time in New York had been "different, but interesting, and definitely a lot of fun." He was quite a bit more to the point when he gave a forecast for his Mobil 1 Ford team for 1999, saying "last year we were at the door, this year we knocked -- but next year we're gonna kick it in."

At the Myers Brothers Award Breakfast on Friday morning, a number of special awards were presented, including:

The $50,000 Exide NASCAR Select Batteries All Charged Up Award, which went for the second straight year to Burton, the driver of the No. 99 Exide Batteries Ford.; the STP Point Fund Awards of $9,000 for third to Ken Schrader, driver of the No. 33 Skoal Bandit Chevrolet; $12,000 for second to John Andretti, driver of the No. 43 STP Pontiac; and $40,000 to Bobby Hamilton, driver of the No. 4 Kodak Max Film Chevrolet.; the $50,000 Gatorade Front Runner Award to Martin, driver of the No. 6 Valvoline/Cummins Ford; the AE Clevite Engine Builder Awards of $10,000 for third to Richard Childress Racing, $20,000 for second to Leo Cavendar and $50,00 to Charlie Siegars of the No. 24 DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet.; the $100,000 UAW-GM Teamwork Award of Excellence to Mike Skinner of the No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet; the Tosco 76 NASCAR High Performance Motor Oil Awards of $25,000 for third to Andretti, $50,000 for second to Hamilton and $100,000 to Dale Earnhardt, driver of the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet; the $50,000 Raybestos Top Stopper Award to Gordon; the $50,000 MCI Fast Pace Award to Gordon; and the $50,000 Bud Pole Award, divided between crew chief Ray Evernham ($10,000) and Gordon ($40,000).

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , John Andretti , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Hamilton , Dale Jarrett , Jeremy Mayfield , Michael Waltrip , Mike Skinner , Kyle Petty , Ken Schrader , Sterling Marlin , Richard Petty , Morgan Shepherd , Ray Evernham , Harry Gant , Mark Martin
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Michael Waltrip Racing