NASCAR Nextel Press Conference New York City, New York June 19, 2003 Part 1 of 3 MODERATOR: I'd like to introduce Bill France. BILL FRANCE: Thank you for coming and sharing a very special and exciting day, a day where the best-kept...
NASCAR Nextel Press Conference
New York City, New York
June 19, 2003
Part 1 of 3
MODERATOR: I'd like to introduce Bill France.
BILL FRANCE: Thank you for coming and sharing a very special and exciting day, a day where the best-kept secret in sports is being announced.
30 years ago, my father Bill France, Sr. stood before a much smaller group of media that is gathered here today and announced a new association with the RJ Reynolds tobacco company and its Winston brand. Back then, our company and the sport were young and growing, but still regionalize. My dad believed RJR's commitment to NASCAR would take us to new heights and make us a national sport.
Today NASCAR takes another giant step for the future of the sport. On behalf of NASCAR's drivers, teams, tracks, sponsors and 75 million fans, it's an honor for me to welcome NEXTEL as the new title sponsor of our premium series, the NASCAR Nextel Cup, beginning with the 2004 season.
Nextel's 10-year commitment to our sport is -- word I have a tough time pronouncing, I'm going to skip it - it is truly an historic moment. This announcement is a fitting tribute to the hard work and dedication of everyone within the NASCAR industry for the past 53 years. All of us are thrilled to welcome Nextel to the NASCAR family.
Nextel is a perfect fit for NASCAR because technology is an untapped growth area for our sport. It is an area of significant interest among all consumers everywhere. Nextel is innovative, fast-growing and one of the best-run companies in this industry. Nextel will be able to promote our drivers, our teams and tracks in all forms of media and to all NASCAR fans. These efforts will help propel NASCAR to new audiences and new markets. Nextel's participation will definitely benefit every member of the NASCAR community.
My father would definitely be proud. We've come a long way toward fulfilling his vision, and we've come a long way toward making NASCAR racing a national sport with fans spread across America. We still have miles to go to achieve our goals, but we are confident we are well on our way, with Nextel as our new partner.
Just as RJR helped us get where we are today, Nextel's commitment to NASCAR is important for the following reasons:
Nextel is an excellent addition to our family of premiere brands already associated with NASCAR. It validates our growth strategy, and there is no better investment in the sport marketing world than NASCAR. Nextel sees NASCAR's breadth and strength as the key to growing the brand and business results for the next 10 years.
You get to be 70, trifocals are a tough deal.
Nextel's ability to market its association with NASCAR will enhance our industry's already successful marketing efforts, enabling us to reach new markets and create new generations of NASCAR fans.
As we look ahead, we will always remember our past. Let me remind you of what my father said during the original NASCAR meeting held in December, December 14th, 1947.
He said, and I quote, "I believe stock car racing can become a nationally recognized sport." And then he added, "We do not know how big it can be if it's handled properly." I'd like to think he'd be proud of how we have handled the sport so far.
Tradition is part of who we are and what we do. Tradition is also a guiding principle of change. We are mindful of that. It's important to our fans and it's important to us. At NASCAR we will continue to explore new opportunities, new concepts and new horizons. Nextel offers is a fresh perspective and a world of new opportunities for our drivers, teams, car owners, tracks and fans.
On behalf of everyone in our industry, it's my distinct pleasure to welcome Nextel to NASCAR, the NASCAR family. At this time it is my pleasure to introduce the president and CEO of Nextel, Mr. Tim Donohue, his wife Jane.
TIM DONOHUE: Thank you, Bill. What an honor it is to be introduced by you personally. Your family is a legend in this sport, and your father not only founded NASCAR, but was the heart and soul of it, its early success.
Of course, your leadership has helped NASCAR grow from a regional success, one of America's most popular sports, and now it is truly national and truly recognized as one of the great, great sporting series across the country.
I'd also like to thank the rest of the France family, Brian, Jim, Lisa, and of course Mike and George, the rest of the NASCAR team. From the first day that the two companies got together and started the discussions, we knew that there was a chemistry between us that would make this work. In fact, here we are today, probably one of the most significant days in the history of Nextel.
In addition to that, it's a thrill for me to stand up here next to some of the great, great NASCAR drivers. Of course, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Driver of the 8 car, who has the amazing knack for scoring spectacular wins in emotionally charged times, and Jeff Gordon, the driver of the 24 car, a four-time Winston Cup champion and a great, great role model, who demonstrates how much can be accomplished by those who dedicate themselves to charitable causes.
Nextel is revved up to write a new chapter in NASCAR history. It's like we're joining one of the largest, most passionate families in America, one we've admired for some time. It's no surprise why we at Nextel would be so interested in becoming part of the NASCAR team. Simply put, it is the most popular and exciting sport in America, and it has the most dedicated fans.
I think our companies, Nextel and NASCAR, share certain similarities. Both of our organizations began as up-starts. And, to be candid, not a lot of people took us seriously. But look at us now. America's No. 1 spectator sport and America's most successful wireless company joining forces.
One look under the hood and you'll see what fuels both NASCAR and Nextel to be performance leaders: a passion for winning, speed of execution, superior teamwork, and a commitment to excellence.
As has been mentioned, RJ Reynolds has built an extraordinary foundation for the NASCAR Winston Cup series. We admire them greatly, and we accept the challenge and obligation of continuing that tradition in the future.
We're looking forward to bringing our technology to NASCAR for the teams and, of course, for the fans. We know the communication is key to success at NASCAR and Nextel, whether it be team to driver, driver to driver, race officials to track operations, or fans listening to cars and pit conversations. In the 50 years since Bill France, Sr. started the organization, communications have come a long way, and we anticipate applying our wireless technology for the enhancement of the sport.
We envision integrating Nextel Direct Connect and wireless data into the fabric of NASCAR. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Direct Connect, it's the digital walkie-talkie that is inside every Nextel phone. It allows you to instantly talk to a colleague, family member or friend at the push of a button from across the track or now from across the country.
Nextel recently announced we have taken our Direct Connect product, and it is now nationwide. No other wireless technology has it in this country, and it is clearly a hallmark of our company, and we hope to put it to great use in the NASCAR family.
On behalf of our 15,000 fellow employees at Nextel, let me thank everyone at NASCAR for so graciously welcoming us into your family. We can't wait to usher in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series in January and we'll see you all in the winner's circle.
I'd like to ask Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., To come up. I have a little thank you for them, for helping us get introduced to NASCAR. These are prototypes. This is a type of handset.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Pleasure.
JEFF GORDON: Thank you very much. Welcome to the team.
TIM DONOHUE: Once again, our great thanks to NASCAR, the France family. We are so delighted to be part of the NASCAR organization, and we will do everything in our power to make sure that both sides, NASCAR and Nextel, will be great winners as the result of this combination. Thank you all very much.
MODERATOR: That ends the formal remark portion. We'll go to the question and answer section of our program.
Q: How long do you think it will take before NASCAR fans can stop calling it the Winston Cup?
TIM DONOHUE: I don't know. It's been a wonderful tradition. RJR has done a great job. We intend to get in there from the get go and put a lot of marketing dollars behind it. I hope in the very near future it will be the NASCAR Nextel Cup on everybody's list.
Q: Who had the idea? Who went to who? How fast did it come together?
BRIAN FRANCE: I can tell you we reached out to Nextel to share the opportunity, and as Tim said in his remarks, it became a very fast friendship. Both of us understood from the onset there was probably a new partnership if we could figure out the details, and that's what we went ahead and did.
Q: Can you speak at all to the terms of the deal?
TOM KELLY: (Nextel Exec. VP/COO): This is a 10-year exclusive agreement. It's an exciting opportunity where we will have the opportunity to use the drivers, the racetrack, the NASCAR logo and all the associated properties that go with it. We think it's going to be a fantastic opportunity for us, especially with the fit of NASCAR and Nextel on technology and frankly on culture and marketing opportunities.
The other components of the deal will remain proprietary.
Q: Could you share with us your impressions of the geographical reach of NASCAR's current schedule, which is obviously concentrated in the southeast, speak about how ideally that might be reconfigured to reflect Nextel's marketing interests.
TIM DONOHUE: (Nextel Pres./CEO): I think from an overall perspective, we are extremely pleased with how NASCAR has expanded in terms of the series beyond just the southeast, frankly across the entire country now. We will be working with the NASCAR folks in the future to better understand if there are other opportunities for more expansion or change of venue.
Right now I would tell you that's the expertise inside of NASCAR and not, frankly, our expertise. We look at the reach, we look at the breadth of our customer base, we take a look at the breadth of the NASCAR fan base, and they match extremely well.
From a geographical perspective and venue perspective, we couldn't be more pleased with what NASCAR is running today.