SBJ/May 7 - 13, 2007/This Weeks News

NASCAR wants to sync hall inductions, All-Star Challenge

The NASCAR Hall of Fame is more than two years from opening, but the wheels for its first induction ceremony already are in motion.

Officials say that plans are under way to tie the hall inductions into the same week as the Nextel All-Star Challenge, which typically is the third week in May.

NASCAR broke ground on its Hall of Fame in
Charlotte in January.

“There’s a lot of support for making all-star week also Hall of Fame induction week,” said Mark Dyer, NASCAR’s vice president of licensing. “It makes a lot of sense. It’s a pretty busy week already, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

Dyer said it’s a natural for the induction ceremony to be wedded with one of the race dates at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, just outside of Charlotte, where the hall is being built. The festivities around the All-Star Challenge and Coca-Cola 600 each May seem to make those dates the more desirable.

All-star week this month begins on a Wednesday night with the Pit-Crew Challenge at Charlotte Bobcats Arena, followed by a Craftsman Truck race on Friday night and the All-Star Challenge on Saturday night, May 19. Slotting an induction ceremony into that lineup is the goal.

“Integrating the induction ceremony into all-star week is just going to help the other events,” Dyer said.

The charter class is targeted for induction in May 2010. The hall is expected to be finished earlier that year and scheduled to open no later than March 31, 2010.

“Everything has been designed to have inductions at the front of the hall, with a stage and grandstands outside and the inside reserved for private activities,” said Winston Kelley, the hall’s executive director.

Kelley said more immediate concerns about the building’s construction are higher on the priority list than the ceremony, but Dyer already has attended an NFL Hall of Fame induction and Kelley said he will attend inductions for other halls as well. As for how many inductees will be in the charter class, that is being “intensely debated,” Dyer said.

Dick Glover, NASCAR’s vice president of TV and new media, hinted that Speed, which is the broadcast home for the All-Star Challenge for the next eight years, could be the broadcast home for the inductions.

“When you look at Speed being in Charlotte and the great synergy between the network, NASCAR and the track, you think that there’s an opportunity,” Glover said. “When you think about adding the Hall of Fame, that’s something that we can really build into not just a TV event, but a whole week of activity.”

The buzz about tying in Hall of Fame inductions into all-star week each May has circulated to some of NASCAR’s most prominent sponsors.

“It’s certainly very logical,” said Tim Schoen, vice president of sports and entertainment marketing at Anheuser-Busch. “If you’re a marketer, you’re definitely thinking in those terms. It could be an enormous event.”

Also, the Hall of Fame is selecting an agency to sell sponsorships. Kelley said 17 agencies have responded to the RFP, and in two to four weeks that list will be trimmed and agencies will make presentations. Kelley said the process will be collaborative between the hall, NASCAR and the agency.

Marketing agencies also are submitting proposals to represent NASCAR for Champions Week in New York in late November. Spokesman Andrew Giangola said NASCAR was seeking an agency that will develop marketing efforts to engage the fans in New York and create more of a buzz. The final four candidates are Jack Morton Worldwide, LeadDog Marketing, Synergy and Velocity. NASCAR has used Grand Central Marketing, New York, in the past.

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