Valvoline, Mark Martin Partner with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America

DAYTONA, Fla., Feb. 11, 1999 -- The Valvoline Company and NASCAR superstar Mark Martin today announced the most ambitious cause-related endeavor in the company's 133-year history -- the "Caring Hands" program, which has a goal of raising $1...

DAYTONA, Fla., Feb. 11, 1999 -- The Valvoline Company and NASCAR superstar Mark Martin today announced the most ambitious cause-related endeavor in the company's 133-year history -- the "Caring Hands" program, which has a goal of raising $1 million for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America while recruiting 10,000 new volunteer mentors known as "Bigs."

Martin, a perennial visitor to victory lane and the 1998 Winston Cup Championship runner-up, said during a morning news conference at Daytona International Speedway that he will race for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) throughout the 1999 season, beginning with Sunday's Daytona 500. Valvoline, which has sponsored Martin for 10 years, will make a cash donation to the organization for every lap he leads, every pole he wins and each trip he makes to the winner's circle during Winston Cup points events. For his efforts, the organization has named Martin an honorary Big Brother.

"Today, I've never been more proud to be associated with Valvoline," said Martin, who was flanked by Valvoline President James J. O'Brien, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America National Executive Director Tom McKenna and BBBSA national board member, spokesperson and ABC Sports commentator Lynn Swann.

"We've been together for 10 years, and the loyalty and support I've received from Valvoline has everything to do with where I am today, with where this sport is today. The fantastic growth of NASCAR presents a platform for us to give back. Today, we're stepping up on the platform -- and inviting our fans to join us -- to help raise money and awareness for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America."

Valvoline will host track-side fund-raisers at 15 Winston Cup stops where race fans can literally leave their mark on the program by putting their handprints on a large canvas wall. Valvoline will contribute $1 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America on behalf of the fans for every set of handprints. Fans will be encouraged to match the donation.

Money raised at each track-side event will go to the local Big Brothers Big Sisters of America agency. These events will also be a forum to recruit additional "Bigs" through distribution of volunteer information. "Bigs" are men and women who volunteer as caring adult mentors for boys and girls primarily from single-parent homes.

O'Brien kicked off the "Caring Hands" program at the news conference by presenting a $50,000 check from Valvoline to McKenna. Later, O'Brien, McKenna, Martin and Swann put their handprints on a miniature version of the wall.

"The Valvoline Guy is a mindset, and part of that mindset is being principled, caring and giving. That's what being a Big Brother or Big Sister is about, and it's what this alliance is about," said O'Brien, a Big Brother himself since 1997.

For Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the program provides a unique opportunity, McKenna said.

"This is our first foray into NASCAR, and tapping into its exploding popularity presents an outstanding opportunity to help us reach our national growth goals through increased awareness and financial support," he said.

"We are very fortunate to be partnering with a premier motor sports sponsor in Valvoline and a front-running driver like Mark Martin."

Philadelphia-based Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and its more than 500 affiliates nationwide strive to make a positive influence in the lives of children and youth, primarily through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with caring adults, and assist them in achieving their highest potential as they grow to become confident, competent and caring people. Currently, 35,000 young people are waiting to be paired with "Bigs." McKenna is confident the campaign will narrow the gap.

"With the help of Mark Martin, and with the generous support of NASCAR fans around the country, this program will make a huge difference in the lives of thousands of children," O'Brien said. "It's our hope that this alliance will inspire others to lend their time, talents and financial resources to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and help us provide caring adult role models for every child that needs one."

If Martin has a season anything like 1998, he certainly will help make that hope a reality. For every Winston Cup race Martin wins, the company will make a $5,000 contribution to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. In addition, Valvoline will donate $2,500 for every pole Martin secures and $20 for every lap he leads throughout the season.

Martin and Valvoline also will periodically tout the program on racing telecasts via the Valvoline No. 6 Ford Taurus in-car camera, which has helped Valvoline win the brand awareness championship among Winston Cup team sponsors for six consecutive years.

Valvoline motor oil is the No. 1 choice of top mechanics for use in their own vehicles. Valvoline, a division of Ashland Inc., has been serving American motorists longer than any other motor oil company and is a leading innovator and supplier of quality, high-performing automotive and industrial products in more than 140 countries. Best known for its lubricants, Valvoline also markets Eagle One appearance products, Zerex antifreeze/coolant, SynPower Performance Products and Pyroil automotive chemicals and refrigerants. Valvoline is a member of the Ashland Inc. (NYSE: ASH) family of companies. For more information about Valvoline, visit the company's Web site at www.valvoline.com.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA), based in Philadelphia, is the nation's most widely known youth mentoring organization providing children with caring adult role models on a one-to-one basis for almost 100 years. Its national growth goal is to double the number of mentoring relationships to 200,000 through the year 2000 through its more than 500 affiliated agencies across the country. For more information, visit the BBBSA Web site at www.bbbsa.org.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mark Martin