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SMI DISMISSES FIVE GUARDS AFTER ACTION AGAINST JOURNALIST

          Five security guards at Lowe's Motor Speedway were
     fired Friday for "roughing up" a Charlotte Observer
     photographer and "seizing" his cameras and film after last
     week's accident in which three spectators were killed at the
     VisionAire 500, according to Foon Rhee of the CHARLOTTE
     OBSERVER.  LMS President Humpy Wheeler said the track
     employs "approximately" 200 part-time security staffers and
     that they "will get trained in new policies" before NASCAR
     races later this month "to prevent this from happening
     again."  Videotape shows about a half-dozen security guards
     "surrounding" Observer photographer Todd Sumlin, pushing him
     and grabbing cameras from around his neck.  The cameras were
     later returned, but a roll of film was "destroyed." 
     Wheeler: "It was an unfortunate situation for everyone
     involved.  While no one from speedway management directed or
     instructed the action taken during the incident, we still
     deeply regret it happened" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/8).       
          WILL SPONSORS RETURN? The SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Bill
     King examines Lowe's association with the tragedy through
     its naming rights deal at the Charlotte speedway.  Lowe's
     execs said they had "not begun to assess the impact of the
     association on their business."  Lowe's Senior VP/Marketing
     Gregory Bridgeford: "We really haven't focused on anything
     but the personal aspects of this tragedy."  But David Paro,
     VP/ProServ's consulting division, said of the tragic
     incident at Lowe's: "I hate to admit it, but it will hurt
     the naming-rights situation in motorsports" (SPORTSBUSINESS
     JOURNAL, 5/10 issue).  VisionAire has not decided whether it
     will remain as title sponsor of the IRL event, even if the
     race returns to Charlotte.  VisionAire Chair Jim Rice:
     "Whether you keep the race or not, I don't know." 
     Communications Concepts and Sports Media Challenge President
     Kathleen Hessert said that VisionAire and other sponsors
     "were saved" by LMS management's decision to cancel the race
     after the severity of the accident was determined.  Hessert:
     "If they had kept racing here, VisionAire would have been
     bombarded" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/10 issue).  

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