Valvoline Vice President Jim Rocco on company's ownership

Jim Rocco, Senior Vice President Valvoline Company, spoke Wednesday at a Valvoline breakfast held as part of the UAW-GM Media tour in Charlotte. The following is Rocco's response to questions raised by Valvoline's decision in 2001 to not only ...

Jim Rocco, Senior Vice President Valvoline Company, spoke Wednesday at a Valvoline breakfast held as part of the UAW-GM Media tour in Charlotte. The following is Rocco's response to questions raised by Valvoline's decision in 2001 to not only sponsor, but own half of Johnny Benson's #10 Valvoline Pontiac.

The Lexington, Ky.-based company is the first consumer products company to co-own a Winston Cup team. Its partner is MB2 Motorsports which also fields Pontiacs for Ken Schrader. The new MB2-Valvoline partnership is called MBV Motorsports.

"Valvoline wanted not just to continue as a sponsor in Winston Cup racing," said Rocco but to increase and expand our involvement in the sport. The philosophy of Valvoline as a company is to be bold, innovative and forward thinking. That approach is symbolized very well by becoming the first major consumer products company to co-own a Winston Cup team.

"We found the traditional sponsorship arrangement didn't allow Valvoline to fully achieve its marketing objectives. By having an ownership role in a Winston Cup team, we have the ability to more fully maximize the opportunities to market and promote Valvoline's role in NASCAR racing. And, as a long-time and successful sponsor in the sport, we think other companies will see the advantages of joining us as associate sponsors of the No. 10 car, helping us to build new business relationships and marketing possibilities. Ownership means we can do more with the assets of Johnny Benson and the No. 10 team and have a even better interaction with the fans and public.

"We don't know what other companies will choose to do. By becoming the first major consumer products company to co-own a Winston Cup team, Valvoline is showcasing the innovative and forward-thinking approach we bring to all of our products.

"Jay Frye, who is general manager of MB2, is a former employee of Valvoline. MB2 already runs the No. 36 M&Ms Pontiac for Ken Schrader and wanted to expand to a two-car team. MB2 purchased the Tyler Jet team midway through the 2000 season and that made Johnny Benson and James Ince available for the Valvoline car. It was the right mix of people and a best opportunity for Valvoline to do something bold and different, which was to take an ownership role in a Winston Cup team.

"We are marketers. In joining forces with MB2, we have the benefit of an established team management structure. Jay Frye, general manager of both MB2 and MBV, is a former Valvoline employee and so is well known to us. Valvoline's role will be to focus on the marketing, promotional, and other business aspects of the team.

"Johnny has been a winner and a champion in ASA and the Busch Grand National series. He's run competitively in Winston Cup and what he did last year, with a team that was unsponsored for a lot of the season, was impressive, to say the least. We think we're joining forces with Johnny just as he begins the best years of his Winston Cup career and can help him achieve his goals. He already enjoys wide support and I think Johnny will grow as a fan favorite.

"Valvoline has the highest respect for Mark and negotiated very seriously to continue sponsoring Mark until his retirement. If you look at the entire Winston Cup field in 2001, you will see there have been quite-a-few changes in sponsor-driver relationships. We think NASCAR fans understand this is part of the sport and will continue to support companies which have a long history of supporting NASCAR and Winston Cup racing."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ken Schrader , Johnny Benson