SBJ/November 17 - 23, 2003/SBJ In Depth

Driving Racing’s Growth Timeline


R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. executive Ralph Seagraves

SME’s Ralph Seagraves (left) and Bill France Sr.
takes charge of the company's new special events division — Sports Marketing Enterprises (SME). The division was created to search for ways to market cigarettes following the government's decision to ban the industry from using broadcast advertising.


Legendary driver Junior Johnson travels about 45 minutes from his race shop to RJR's headquarters to seek a sponsor for his race car. When RJR officials tell him how much money they have to spend, he suggests that they sponsor not just a car, but the whole circuit.


RJR's Winston brand becomes sponsor of NASCAR's top division, the NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National Division. RJR creates a $100,000 Winston Cup point fund, with the champion receiving $40,000.

T. Wayne Robertson joins RJR as an administrative trainee and show-car driver.


After almost a quarter-century in the position, Bill France Sr. retires as president of NASCAR. He's succeeded by his son, Bill France Jr.

The Winston Cup schedule is trimmed from 48 races to 31, marking the beginning of the "modern era."

The inaugural Western Winston 500 is run at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway.


Winston brand becomes sponsor of the NASCAR Winston Racing Series, a weekly racing program held at local short tracks nationwide.

The Winston Cup point fund increases to $140,000.


Winston brand becomes sponsor of the National Hot Rod Association's top division, the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series, and establishes a $100,000 point fund.

The Winston Cup point fund increases to $150,000.


Winston Cup racing expands to three TV networks — ABC, CBS and NBC.

For the first time, the Winston Cup Series takes the lead in worldwide attendance with 1,431,292 spectators.


The Winston Cup point fund is $210,000.


The Winston Cup point fund is $500,000.


Reynolds Industries acquires Nabisco Brands for $4.9 billion to become RJR Nabisco Inc.

Ralph Seagraves, president of SME, retires. T. Wayne Robertson takes the reins.

RJR awards the inaugural "Winston Million," a $1

Bill Elliott cashes in at Darlington.
million bonus, to Bill Elliott for winning three of NASCAR's four crown jewel races.

"The Winston" is introduced as NASCAR's all-star event, featuring a $500,000 purse, with the winner earning $200,000.

The Winston Cup point fund increases to $750,000.


NASCAR drops the "Grand National" name from the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. NASCAR had used the Grand National name since the sanctioning body was founded in 1948.

The Winston Cup point fund is $2 million.


For the first time, every NASCAR Winston Cup Series race is televised.

The Winston Cup point fund increases to $2.5 million, with the Winston Cup champion guaranteed $1 million.


The Sporting News names Robertson one of the most powerful people in sports.


The Winston Cup point fund is $3 million.


The Winston Cup schedule expands to include the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Winston becomes known as "The Winston Select." "Select" would be dropped in 1996.


RJR introduces the "NASCAR Winston Cup Leader Bonus" program, a $10,000-per-race bonus.

The Winston Cup point fund is $4 million.


Jeff Gordon becomes only the second driver to win the Winston Million.

Two new tracks are added to the Winston Cup schedule — California Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway.


The Multistate Master Settlement Agreement is signed, severely restricting advertising and brand sponsorships of, among other things, sports properties, venues and events. NASCAR and CART are the only two sports properties cited as examples in the agreement. The tobacco industry is instructed to spend $360 billion over 25 years on anti-smoking campaigns.

Robertson, 48, dies Jan. 14 in a boating accident in southern Louisiana. Cliff Pennell assumes the role of SME president.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway is added to the Winston Cup schedule.

The Winston "No Bull 5" program is created as a tribute to NASCAR's 50th anniversary season. RJR goes on to pay out $26 million to drivers and fans before the program ends at the conclusion of the 2002 season.

Ralph Seagraves, who guided RJR into its sponsorship in motorsports, dies at the age of 68.

The Winston Cup point fund reaches $5 million.


RJR Nabisco is renamed R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc.

Cliff Pennell turns over the president title to Rick Sanders and leaves RJR six months later to start his own consulting business.

RJR announces that its sponsorship of the NASCAR Winston Racing Series will end immediately due to the terms of the Master Settlement Agreement.

Bill France Jr. (left), Helton
NASCAR President Bill France Jr. hands over the day-to-day operations of NASCAR to Mike Helton, marking the first time someone outside the France family has controlled the operations of the sport.

NASCAR announces a six-year, $2.4 billion deal with Fox, NBC and TNT to broadcast the Winston Cup Series. The new deal begins in 2001.


The final Talladega Winston 500 is run. The race becomes the EA Sports 500.

The purse for The Winston increases to $2 million, with the winner earning $500,000.

The Winston Cup point fund reaches $10 million, with a champion's share of $3 million.


RJR announces its intention to drop its sponsorship of the NHRA after the season. The company had sponsored the annual all-star event, the NHRA Winston "No Bull Challenge," paid bonuses to each NHRA circuit and provided support to each facility on the drag racing series.

Two new tracks — Chicago and Kansas City — are added to the Winston Cup schedule.

The Winston Cup point fund is $13.02 million.


Ned Leary is named president of SME.

RJR signs a five-year sponsorship extension with NASCAR through the 2007 season.

The Winston Cup point fund is $14 million.


The Winston Cup point fund is $17 million, including a champion's share of $4.25 million.

RJR ends the No Bull 5 program, which awarded a $1 million bonus to a driver and fan at one of five selected races.

RJR, faced with growing financial challenges because of tobacco litigation, gives NASCAR permission to seek a new title sponsor. Nextel announces in June that it will replace Winston in the sponsorship role.

Nextel deal marks the beginning of the end for Winston.

Brian France
Brian France is named chairman of NASCAR, replacing his father, Bill France Jr.

RJR announces a $3.5 million purse for this year's running of The Winston, with the winner earning a record $1 million. The race is to be called the "NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge" beginning next season.

As part of a $1 billion cost restructuring, RJR announces it will no longer market its Winston and Doral cigarette brands, although the brands will still be available in stores.

Although the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement permits SME to have one sports sponsorship, it is unlikely that SME will even exist at the end of the year.

Source: Sports Marketing Enterprises

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