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.
More information can be found at http://www.nascar.com/2003/news/headlines/wc/06/19/transcript_conference/index.html as well as some Questions and Answers.