Jeff Gordon won his second NASCAR Winston Cup
championship Sunday, finishing 17th at Sunday's season-
ending NAPA 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS). With
the $1.5M championship bonus from series sponsor R.J.
Reynolds, Gordon became the first race-car driver to win $5M
in a season (USA TODAY, 11/17). In K.C., Shannon Rose
profiled Gordon, and wrote that "whether fans like it or
not, Gordon has another talent besides driving. He can
convert the average person into a race fan." Rose: "Like it
or not, Gordon is the future of NASCAR. And both are only
going to get bigger and bigger" (K.C. STAR, 11/16).
GET OUT ON THE HIGHWAY: In Atlanta, Al Levine wrote
that "about" 160,000 were expected this past weekend at the
newly renovated AMS. The complex accommodated "about"
20,000 corporate sponsor guests, including title sponsor
NAPA who built a 60,000-square foot village for its 3,500
guests (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/15). Also in Atlanta,
Steve Hummer wrote on NASCAR's fan following: "Pick an
adjective. Best. Most blindly loyal. Most put out. Just
flat craziest. The NASCAR Winston Cup fan can answer to
them all." More Hummer: "As the sport continues to gain
altitude, it is only going to become more difficult to serve
in racing's ranks. It's choking on its own popularity,
leaving the corporate interests and the grassroots fans to
battle for its soul" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/16).
NAPA'S AUTO RACE: NAPA has signed on to sponsor the
November Winston Cup race at AMS for five more years (Ben
Blake, INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 11/16).
BRING ALONG DUPER? Dan Marino has signed an agreement
with NASCAR's Bill Elliott to jointly own the second car on
the Elliott team for the '98 NASCAR Winston Cup season. The
Elliott-Marino Motorsports entry will make its debut at the
Daytona Int'l Speedway on February 15. Jerry Nadeau will be
the driver, while TX-based FirstPlus Financial, Inc., a
consumer finance company, will be the primary sponsor of the
#13 Ford Taurus (FirstPlus Financial).
One day after Nike execs visited UNC-Chapel Hill (UNC)
to "counter accusations of sweatshoplike working conditions
in Southeast Asia, the company agreed Friday to send UNC
students to the factories to see for themselves," according
to Jane Stancil of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER. In a
meeting Thursday, UNC Chancellor Michael Hooker "suggested"
that Nike pay the expenses of a four-member contingent: the
Chair of the faculty council and three students, including a
member of the campus paper. Nike Dir of College Sports
Marketing Kit Morris: "Conceptually, Nike has agreed to the
idea. We welcome the opportunity to educate our university
partners on this issue" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 11/16).
THE WHITE STUFF: Nike-endorser Reggie White has "joined
the ranks" of Nike critics, "blasting the company's labor
practices," according to Friday's Portland OREGONIAN.
White: "The reason they have these sweatshops is for cheap
labor. They'd rather hire the cheap labor than hire the kid
in the neighborhood who is buying their shoes. There are
people who need jobs here." Nike spokesperson Antonio
Tijerino said that White should "know that we employ 500,000
people around the world. There are poor people everywhere."
White has a deal with Nike "estimated" at $200,000-$250,000
a year and said he has no plans to end his relationship with
the company. White: "Nike has treated me well. But I'm not
going to lie to you. I've been disappointed with them"
(Portland OREGONIAN/AP, 11/15).
MORE NICKS AT NIKE: In S.F., Tim Keown wrote that
Nike's "hypocrisy knows no bounds." Keown: "It aligns
itself with just causes -- the courage of Jackie Robinson,
racism in country clubs, the plight of inner-city kids --
then indignantly wonders why anybody gives a damn about the
respiratory problems of a few thousand young women in
Vietnam" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/14). In an op-ed in today's
PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, Fredrick McKissack writes under the
headline, "Nike Workers Get No Assist From Jordan."
McKissack notes Jordan's recent statements on Nike during an
interview on ABC's "PrimeTime Live." McKissack: "Once
again, Michael Jordan had a chance to speak out about
working conditions in Nike plants in Southeast Asia. Once
again, he failed to do that" (PHILA. DAILY NEWS, 11/17).
MAIL ORDERS: In the CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, Jeffrey
Shaffer noted the prevalence of NFL mail-order catalogs such
as The Ultimate Football Shop and From the Sidelines: "These
up-and-coming mail-order companies want to knock the front-
line veterans flat on the turf. They offer a simple
solution to may wardrobe needs: Surrender to the glamour and
expertise of the [NFL]. ... Their strategy is to combine
style with team spirit" (CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, 11/14).
NOTES: A TV spot for Nike's new Penny Hardaway shoe,
the Air Penny ($150), is scheduled to debut Thanksgiving Day
(USA TODAY, 11/17)....In Sunday's N.Y. TIMES, Alex Kuczynski
examined brand marketing in the 90's, which included Michael
Jordan's Cologne and Nike brand. Starbucks Senior VP Scott
Bedbury: "The most powerful brands have human qualities.
And this is why there is a buzz these days about people
being seen as brands" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/16).
DEALS: Volvo Trucks North America did "extensive
research" before deciding to run a 30-second spot during the
upcoming Super Bowl at a cost of $1.2M. Volvo Trucks NA
President Marc Gustafson: "The research we've done shows
that drivers love football, and this [is] the event they
appreciate the most" (Greensboro NEWS & RECORD, 11/16)....
The Blackhawks' Chris Chelios, Tony Amonte and Gary Suter
filmed a TV spot for Wendy's in N.Y. on Friday that will tie
in with the Winter Olympics (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/15).