OAK BROOK, Ill., – The Sharpie 500 is playing host to NASCAR"s elite under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) August 27 as 10 drivers inch closer to the "Race for the Chase" in the NEXTEL® Cup Series. Before the gentlemen start their engines, Sharpie, the popular brand of permanent markers widely known as the autograph pen of choice, is asking more than 165,000 spectators in the BMS grandstands for their autographs in the name of the Sharpie Retractable "Autographs for Education" program. The world's largest autograph session supports Sharpie's effort to collect one million autographs in exchange for $1 million in school supplies and funds nationwide.
Prior to the Sharpie 500, race-goers will receive a Sharpie "World's Largest Autograph Session" sticker when entering the track. Individuals will then be invited to autograph their sticker, with a Sharpie marker of course, for a chance to win a one-of-a-kind commemorative print signed by all 43 drivers before the start of the race. Those fans who are unable to attend the race may also participate at www.sharpie.com/autographs. All entries must be received by September 10, with the grand prize winner being announced in the week of September 20.
"The Professor" Benny Parsons, NBC and TNT broadcaster and 1973 NASCAR champion, will be calling the Sharpie 500 and plans to put his signature on the event as well.
"I've signed a few autographs during my career as a driver and a broadcaster," Parsons said. "This program turns the tables a bit, with me requesting autographs and helping out Sharpie's worthwhile education program. It is no secret schools lack funding and parents are trying to figure out how they can pay for the children's college. I know NASCAR fans and those attending the Sharpie 500 will do their part to support this program. I'm definitely putting my autograph on education."
This is the latest pit stop on the Sharpie Autographs for Education tour where professional athletes and celebrities like Parsons are rallying together with Sharpie to ask for autographs. Parsons is joined by a list of athletes and celebrities who have helped collect signatures, including NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Champion Kurt Busch, pro football Hall of Famers Howie Long and Dan Dierdorf, Donald Driver of Green Bay, Tony Gonzalez of Kansas City, Hines Ward of Pittsburgh, Jason Hanson of Detroit, Baltimore's baseball all-star, Brian Roberts and the PGA TOUR's Chad Campbell, among others.
Autographs go hand-in-hand with the world of sports, especially NASCAR," said Rory Leyden, president of Sharpie. "That's why the Sharpie 500 is the perfect venue for the world's largest autograph session because autographs are such an integral part of the experience. With the help of Benny, I am certain we'll get even closer to our one million autograph goal."
Sharpie Retractable's commitment to "Autographs for Education" includes resources for teachers, and fun for parents and students online. From school supplies and scholarships to lesson plans and a virtual autograph wall, more information can be found on the Sharpie Web site, www.sharpie.com.
Sharpie has visited cities across the country in a fleet of Sharpie-branded all-terrain vehicles throughout 2005, stopping at local festivals and special events. The vehicles feature interactive games, product sampling opportunities, and official entry forms for the signature collection effort. Complete sweepstakes rules and entry methods can be found at retailers nationwide and at www.sharpie.com.
Inspired after a Sharpie marker was featured in a high-profile and somewhat controversial touchdown celebration in 2002, Sharpie's Autographs for Education program has been bringing motivation, funds and school supplies to students, teachers and parents for more than two years.
About Sharpie Retractable
With a retractable writing tip and no caps to lose, Sharpie markers are now easier and more convenient to use. Sharpie Retractable is available in twelve colors: black, red, blue, green, orange, berry, lime, turquoise, purple, navy, plum and aqua. The suggested retail price for 2-, 3-, 4-, 8-, and 12-packs are $4.89, $7.33, $9.78, $19.56 and $29.33, respectively. Available at office supply stores and other retailers nationwide, Sharpie Retractable joins other significant writing innovations that target a wide range of enthusiasts from the hobbyist to the do-it-yourselfer.
About Sanford®, Makers of Sharpie®
For more than 40 years, Sharpie continues to be the most popular brand of permanent markers long-associated with the autograph experience. Sanford, maker of Sharpie, is a division of Newell Rubbermaid Inc. (NYSE: NWL), a worldwide leader in the manufacturing and marketing of writing instruments, art products and office organization, including such well known brands as Paper Mate®, Sharpie®, Parker®, Waterman®, EXPO®, Foohy®, uni-ball®, and Rolodex®, among others. Sanford makes more than 6,000 products, ranging from markers, pens and pencils to professional art products, fine writing instruments and office organization products. Visit sharpie.com or sanfordcorp.com for more information.