NASCAR and Nextel tie ten-year knot

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) announced that Nextel Communications will become the new title sponsor of its premium division, at a press conference in New York's Times Square. Starting next year the 32-year old Winston Cup Series will be re-titled the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series

NASCAR and Nextel tie ten-year knot

All monetary contract points are being kept proprietary under the ten-year agreement, however industry insiders say the deal will cost Nextel about $700m. Nextel representatives did say that they would funnel more cash into the championship points fund, and continue to make direct payments to speedways. It is known that Winston contributed more than $101m in point fund money between 1971 and 2003.

Nextel also confirmed that it would sponsor the annual all-star event traditionally held at Lowe's Motor Speedway known previously as "The Winston". It did not state what the new event would be called, or the location in 2004.

According to senior executives, some of the first marketing steps for the new link up will be aimed at teenagers. NASCAR senior vice president Brian France said: "The youth market is one that we're going to go after more aggressively, as it is one of the most aggressive adapters of new technology."

According to The Financial Times, Nextel is planning to produce a line of Nascar-themed phones and hopes to make races more interactive by promoting its direct-connect walkie-talkie and other telecoms services to drivers, pit crews, racegoers and television viewers.

Nextel executive vice president and COO Tom Kelly said: "The 16 to 20 year-olds don't remember a time when there weren't any wireless phones. That's a change in the fabric of this country which shows that wireless technology is a pervasive technology - you couldn't kill it if you tried."

Nextel has some 15,000 employees and generated $8.6bn in domestic revenue last year.

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