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With his melodic drawl and polite demeanor, HUMPY WHEELER personifies the term Southern Gentleman. And to hear him tell it, the longtime motorsports promoter still enjoys spending his weekends working on cars, sipping on moonshine and saddling up his horse. Wheeler, perhaps best known for his days as the outspoken leader of Charlotte Motor Speedway, now spends most of his time focusing on his motorsports agency, The Wheeler Co. Below is a snapshot of his coming weekend and tales from his home in Charlotte.
GIDDY UP: I’m going to Aiken, S.C., and I’m going to do two things: I’m gonna ride a horse most of the weekend and then I’m going to watch a parade promoting a big horse carriage event next weekend. I’m going down there with my wife and another couple and four of the ladies that ride with us at the stable next to my house.
A HORSE, OF COURSE: I have a horse that is called a Tennessee Walker, and he’s a beautiful horse. He’s kind of a chestnutty color, but he’s got a blonde mane and tail, so that sets him off. His name is Bandit. … Bandit is the only horse I have, the only one I want. One’s enough.
HONEY DO LIST: Last weekend my neighbor wanted me to take one of my antique cars over to a car show that his church was putting on. They were trying to raise some money, so I did that. Those things, you got to clean them up, they’re constant maintenance. The only thing is you don’t have to feed them like you do a horse. I’ve got a ’39 Ford Coupe, I’ve got a ’48 Jaguar Sudan, and I’ve got a ’53 Hudson Hornet. That was the car that’s identical to the car in “Cars,” the one that PAUL NEWMAN played.
STAR STUNNER: I was the voice of one of the cars in “Cars.” I was the voice of the big Cadillac with blow horns on it, “Tex,” the owner of Dinaco Oil Company. I was the one who got 'em to put that Hudson in it, so I thought well I’m gonna -- cause it was a great race car -- I’m gonna find one and rebuild it just like it was. I tried to buy the car that was there but this guy Bill wanted it and put it on the road tour for the promotion of the show. But he wasn’t ready to sell it. So I said well, I found this one out in California and it will be fun, kids will love it. I thought well heck, I’m not gonna rebuild an old Cadillac when that Hudson is there and I love the Hudsons. So I decided to do Doc Hudson instead of Tex. Paul Newman was a good friend of mine and he’s dead now and I kind of felt like that would be a neat thing to do.
RIDIN’ AROUND IN MY AUTOMOBILE: I took the ’39 Ford, which is a replica of a bootleg car up to North Wilkesboro two weeks ago to a bootlegger moonshine reunion of bootleggers and also old law enforcement agents. Everybody got a charge out of that. All I do is let other people make it and I’ll drink a lil' bit of it. My buddy JUNIOR JOHNSON is making it legally now. And I said well it doesn’t taste as good legal as it did when it was illegal.
GOOD FOR THE SOUL: Probably the thing that would surprise you the most is that I go to a black church. I’m token white. I go to Our Lady of Consolation (in Statesville, N.C.). There’s some white families in it, not a whole lot of 'em. But we’ve been going to it 'bout 10 years, so we like it. Black people just seem to go to church differently. They seem to get into it, get into the spirit and the mood and all that. I just enjoy going. Being a Catholic you can go on Saturday afternoon, and so that’s when we usually go. And then afterward we’ll eat somewhere really fancy, like the Waffle House (laughs). Then we will usually watch our favorite show on television. I don’t think anyone else watches it at all. It’s called “Lark Rise To Candleford.” Now Lark Rise is a little village eight miles to Candleford and it’s 1890s England. And it’s about the people in those two little towns, and we love English movies and TV shows and things like that. It comes on the public television in South Carolina.
THE DAILY each Friday offers our take on the performances over the past week of people and entities in sports business. Here are this week's newsmakers:
WIN: STACEY ALLASTER -- The WTA Chair & CEO gets a big vote of confidence, as the organization's BOD unanimously renews her contract through ’17. The extension will make her the longest tenured female head of the women’s tour. Under her leadership, the WTA has increased prize money, TV viewership and attendance at its biggest events. The tour also has secured $80M in total revenue and has signed five new sponsors in the past 18 months, leading to a 60% increase in sponsorship revenues.
LOSE: CHUBBY CHANDLER -- A mere four months after watching his most promising client notch his first major championship, Chandler was "shocked" when RORY MCILROY announced he'd be leaving Int’l Sports Management to join Horizon Sports Management. McIlroy reportedly believes Chandler has too many top names on his roster, and thinks that more can be made of his brand by going elsewhere. McIlroy's sponsorship deals negotiated during his four years at ISM must be honored, and some run as long as '15. But that has to be little consolation for Chandler, who probably knows better than anyone how much marketing potential lies in the 22-year-old's future.
DRAW: TIM TEBOW -- The Broncos QB made his first start of the season last Sunday for an 18-15 overtime win over the Dolphins in Miami. Despite pulling off the exciting victory, Tebow did not catch fire until the fourth quarter and his on-field ability remains a hot-button issue on sports talk shows. Nonetheless, Tebow’s off-field appeal is high, and if he can maintain his starting position, his marketing star could be on the rise.
The Blue Jays named Tennis Canada Regional VP/Corporate Sales ROB SWANN Dir of Corporate Partnerships & Business Development (Blue Jays)....Binghamton Univ. Senior Associate AD JASON SIEGEL will step down from his position effective Nov. 12 (THE DAILY).
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BILL NORRIS, the former Peter Jacobsen Sports exec, has left the agency to start his own practice in Naples, Fla. Norris spent four years at PJS and helped the firm move beyond its core competency in golf with projects in soccer, running, football, hockey, motorsports and baseball. On the golf side, he also worked closely with Ketel One on its PGA Tour sponsorship. Prior to PJS, Norris spent 11 years at Edelman. His new company will be called Norris Sports Group (Michael Smith, SportsBusiness Journal).
AUCTION BLOCK: In DC, Cindy Boren noted JULIUS ERVING’s championship rings and MVP trophies are “among pieces from his collection of basketball memorabilia that will be sold at auction Friday, but the Hall of Famer denies the sale is connected to a lawsuit filed against him by a bank in Atlanta.” Erving is “selling 144 items” in the auction, including his ‘83 NBA championship ring he won with the 76ers. Erving: “My family is 100 percent behind it. We decided to do it a long time ago. To claim it’s a firesale or to clear up some debt, I don’t think so” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 10/27).
NAMES: Tennis player MARAT SAFIN Thursday said that he “wants to put his oratory to use in the Russian parliament.” He is “up for election to the State Duma on Dec. 4 and could join other Russian sports stars, including gold medalist SVETLANA KHORKINA in the lower house of parliament” (AP, 10/27)....Rich Products Corp. Chair BOB RICH has released “THE RIGHT ANGLE -- TALES FROM A SPORTING LIFE.” The book talks about several key moments in Buffalo sports history, including the deal to rename the Bills’ home venue Rich Stadium and the creation of the Sabres (THE DAILY)....Cubs President of Baseball Operations THEO EPSTEIN and Cubs Chair TOM RICKETTS Thursday watched Game Six of the World Series at Chicago’s The Fifty/50. Epstein's table “drank Coronas and ordered the corn fried calamari, poutine, skirt steak sandwich and meatball sub” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/28)….NFL Jets MARK SANCHEZ and NBA Kings co-Owner GEORGE MALOOF were seen dining together in Las Vegas at the N9NE Steakhouse in the Palms (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 10/28).