BUSCH: Hispanic Racing Team to compete at Chicagoland

Hispanic Race Team competing in second race of 2002. CHARLOTTE, N.C. (July 9, 2002) -- The Hispanic Racing Team (HRT) and former Busch Series champion David Green will be bringing a little Latin energy to this weekend's Busch series race at ...

Hispanic Race Team competing in second race of 2002.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (July 9, 2002) -- The Hispanic Racing Team (HRT) and former Busch Series champion David Green will be bringing a little Latin energy to this weekend's Busch series race at Chicagoland Speedway. The duo will run its second race of the year at the 1.5-mile tri-oval, where the No. 09 CICLON Energy Drink entry hopes to earn a victory for HRT, the first and only Hispanic-owned and sponsored team in NASCAR.

Green, although he's not Hispanic, will drive the No. 09 CICLON racing machine for the second time this year after finishing 14th in May at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Green has helped build the HRT Motorsports program in preparation for veteran open wheel driver Roberto Guerrero's debut in stock car racing. Guerrero takes over the wheel of the No. 09 later this year for the Busch races at Atlanta, Phoenix and Homestead.

With plans to be the first NASCAR team with Hispanic owners, drivers and sponsors, HRT has been a welcome source of diversity in the garage. Since teaming up in April with CICLON, a Panama-based energy drink company, HRT has helped introduce NASCAR to Hispanics across the United States.

CICLON, which has primarily been marketed in central America, is increasing its distribution in Mexico and the U.S. through its NASCAR sponsorship. Starting in August CICLON will gain distribution in 7-Eleven convenience stores nationwide because of its relationship with HRT. CICLON Energy Drink can already be found in North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Phoenix and New York.

Before heading off to Chicago for this weekend's Tropicana Twister 300, Green and co-owner Rudy Rodriguez shared their thoughts on the need for diversity in NASCAR and how they'll bring their own blend of salsa to the city of blues.

Driver David Green's thoughts --

NASCAR has never been known for its diversity, but it is making progress with teams like HRT. How does it feel to be involved with one of the pioneer teams that's bringing new fans into the sport?

"I think the neatest thing about this is that you kind of have a fan base all to your own. And it's huge and an untapped market. It's great to think all these new people are rooting for me, even though they could be a Jeff Gordon fan. To me it's kind of like a whole new big exciting beginning."

Chemistry is such an important factor in a team's success, particularly for a part-time team. What's the chemistry like between you and the crew?

"Being part time is the toughest part about it. Even though our car is prepared by ST Motorsports, which fields Stacy Compton's car -- a top-10 team in points, pretty veteran-type owner -- we get looked at as underdogs. To me that makes us able to sneak up on the competition a little bit. Ritchie Wauters (crew chief) is heading up the program. He's the kind of guy that I've always wanted to work with. His background is All-Pro Series, and I've raced against him numerous times. I always wanted to compete with him instead of against him. I think the chemistry hasn't been a problem. After Charlotte it's almost like we've worked together for years, even though from the outside it looks like a group that's been put together quickly."

This is a relatively new race on the Busch series schedule. Does that help a part-time team like HRT since everyone is still trying to figure out the track?

"For the most part, it evens out the experience level. I know Ritchie hasn't been there before but I have, and I really feel like we're going there as a solid group, not just a part-time group. Darn it, I'd like to be doing this every week, but sometimes doing this part time brings out the best in us. This deal is really first class."

Co-owner Rudy Rodriguez's thoughts --

A lot of people credit you and your partner (co-owner and cousin Michael Vazquez) with opening racing to new audiences in the U.S. -- you're even a founding member of the NASCAR Diversity Council. What else can NASCAR do to help multicultural teams flourish?

"Being a founding member of the Diversity Council, we're learning it's not an issue we can cover overnight. We're doing the right thing. Right now we've divided the council into subcommittees, such as driver and team development, educating corporate America on the sport and the diversity issues. It's something that if we all work together it could be very profitable for everyone down the road.

"I think NASCAR is doing a good job getting behind these teams, supporting them and providing all the assistance and resources they can. NASCAR has its plate full; it has to find its own sponsors. But NASCAR realizes that it has to get back on the bandwagon and help these existing teams. This year a lot of teams have dropped off the playing field because of a lack of sponsorship."

Right now your second team is unsponsored. How difficult has it been to attract another Hispanic sponsor, given the tough economic times that all teams are facing?

"The number one program is the No. 09 car right now. The second team we have, we're talking to some sponsors right now and they're very interested. We're educating them on the sport, and what the sport can do for them in terms of return on investment. Michael and I realized that all you had to do was bring the product to market, and then once you do that everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon.

"The phone has not stopped ringing with people very interested in our program; what it takes to go racing in NASCAR and with us. That's not only here domestically but also internationally. We've had a better response from corporate America trying to reach out to the Latino segment. They realize that Hispanics are a fast-growing population with $600 billion in consumer buying power. For example, we've recently teamed up with TrackFanTravel.com for an associate sponsorship on the No. 09. This online travel savings club has NASCAR-specific packages, and they are reaching the fans that support our program to increase their business, as well."

HRT Motorsports was established in 1999 in order to add diversity and create a new fan base within NASCAR. HRT Motorsports is the first Hispanic owned, sponsored and driven NASCAR team. HRT maximizes its sponsors' demographic reach and fan-potential on three continents by enlisting two well-known auto-racing personalities within the Hispanic community: Roberto Guerrero and brother, Jaime. Both drivers are joining forces for the first time, bringing their experience and dedicated fan base to America's speedways. www.hrtmotorsports.com

Founded in 1996, produced in Austria and now headquartered in Panama City, Panama with sales and marketing in Puerto Rico, CICLON Energy Drink is fortified with vitamins C, B2, B6, and B12. CICLON Energy Drink launched in Puerto Rico last year and was No. 1 in its category within only seven months. CICLON thinks global and acts local in both their sales and marketing approach, making HRT Motorsports and NASCAR obvious partners. www.ciclon.com


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Drivers Jeff Gordon , Stacy Compton , Roberto Guerrero , David Green