(Bristol, Tenn., August 21, 2003) - Sharpie®, the popular brand of permanent markers and part of the Newell Rubbermaid (NYSE: NWL) portfolio of leading brands, today announced at Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) that the brand is extending its sponsorship of the NASCAR Winston Cup night race held in August, the Sharpie 500, through 2008. The announcement comes just two days before the running of the Sharpie 500 on Saturday, August 23, the third-year of the sponsorship. The race is considered by many to be the premiere NASCAR Winston Cup event on the 36-race schedule and features the short track excitement that Bristol consistently delivers, all under the lights.
"Our commitment to Bristol and the millions of race fans across the country and around the world means more than just a sponsorship extension," said Bob Parker, president of the Sharpie Group. "The Sharpie 500 is a partnership that unites the No. 1 permanent marker brand and the best NASCAR has to offer. We're pleased to be taking the relationship to a new level."
Sharpie began sponsoring the former Bristol Night Race in 2001. Since that time, Sharpie has leveraged its relationship with NASCAR and its fans through both national and local consumer and customer marketing efforts. NASCAR's popularity and the loyalty that fans have towards the sport's sponsors fits well with Sharpie's overall strategies. The broad appeal of NASCAR and Sharpie® markers made the renewal a natural.
Speedway Motorsports, Inc. purchased BMS and nearly tripled the seating capacity to its current 160,000 since 1996. The Speedway added 150 suites, new restroom, concession and souvenir buildings, and more elevators than any other property in the state of Tennessee. Despite the growth, demand for tickets to the Sharpie 500 remains higher than for any other event on the NASCAR tour, thanks in part to the race sponsor's efforts.
"More than a sponsor, Sharpie partners with us in our civic and charitable endeavors, as well as promotion of NASCAR's most popular weekend," said Jeff Byrd, president and general manager of BMS. "And, in any successful partnership, both sides benefit, and our Bristol Motor Speedway family takes pride in its role in the continuing success of the Sharpie brand."
In 2004, the Sharpie® marker brand will celebrate its 40th anniversary and the first year of the new five-year sponsorship. "What better way to commemorate our 40th than right here in Bristol where some of the most loyal Sharpie fans come together," said Parker. Sharpie is also a major sponsor of the No. 97 Rubbermaid/Sharpie Ford and Kurt Busch, currently eighth in the 2003 Winston Cup points race.