Mike Helton - the State of NASCAR

Helton delivers 'State of NASCAR' By Mark Talkington NEW YORK (Dec. 2, 1999) Mike Helton, NASCAR senior vice president and chief operating officer, spent little time looking back during his state of the sport speech Thursday at the ...

Helton delivers 'State of NASCAR' By Mark Talkington

NEW YORK (Dec. 2, 1999) Mike Helton, NASCAR senior vice president and chief operating officer, spent little time looking back during his state of the sport speech Thursday at the Waldorf-Astoria Grand Ballroom. Instead, he said the continued growth and future success of the sport will be built upon expanding the sport's fan base and offering all fans an experience like no other.

"NASCAR is no longer just ours," Helton told members of the media, teams, owners, drivers and NASCAR employees and officials during the annual address. "It's a living, growing element made up of millions of Americans."

Still, he reminded them, "Although NASCAR is no longer solely ours, as its parent, guardian and family, we have a vital interest to guide and nurture it."

Among the accomplishments in 1999:

A close manufacturer's championship;

It remains the largest spectator sport in the country, following only the NFL on television;

Seventeen of the top 20 attended sporting events in USA were NASCAR races;

The sport has a larger and more diverse fan base than ever before;

More than $1.2 billion in merchandise was sold in 1999, reflecting a 1,000 percent growth in this decade; and

More than 20 new recently signed agreements with NASCAR -- agreements which also come with a clause to work with teams. With those accolades aside, he said, "It's time to bring the focus at the track onto the sport."

To do that, he said NASCAR plans to take advantage of a new television contract to expand the sport's reach. Once lured, fans can expect an interactive experience that will bring them closer to the action than any other sport. A new children's animated series, "NASCAR Racers" on Fox Kids, also breaks ground as it brings children closer to NASCAR than any other sport.

"Every child dreams of racing a car," he says. "We'll bring them closer with this animated series."

But while fans of all ages will be able to get closer to the action, buy more NASCAR merchandise, shop at more stores with NASCAR officially licensed material and see more NASCAR racing on network television, Helton reminded the room to stick to the roots of racing.

"This is purely a competitive sport. Action on the track is the primary interest. Never lose site of the need for excellence on the track. The popularity of that intense competition has made it more than race day activities, driver heroes, sights and sounds.

"NASCAR provides the highest quality of entertainment possible. We must continues to fulfill our responsibility and find newer ways to bring people to the sport every day."

nascar.com

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mike Helton