NASCAR announces 2005 All-Star Challenge

by Pete McCole

April 7, 2005

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The 21st NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge returns on Saturday, May 21 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, with the winner collecting over $1 million during one of the season’s most exciting evenings.

To coincide with the All-Star event, Nextel Communications Inc., Lowe's Motor Speedway, NASCAR and the North Carolina Local Organizing Committee (LOC) on Wednesday announced a series of events taking place during the 2005 NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge the week of May 21 in Charlotte, N.C.

The events include the Nextel Pit Crew Challenge, Nextel All-Star Trophy Tour and a Nextel All-Star Challenge Sweepstakes.

“The NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge allows us to create unique events to support this winners-only race,” said Mark Schweitzer, senior vice president of marketing at Nextel. “As our signature event, we put an enormous amount of thought behind finding new ways to bring race fans closer to their favorite sport, drivers and teams and this year’s event is sure to be a crowd pleaser.”

The All-Star Challenge showcases winners from the previous and current NASCAR NEXTEL Cup seasons, plus the winner of the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge Open, a preliminary event for teams not qualified for the all-star event, and another Open driver who wins a fan vote into the all-star event.

Other qualified participants include past event champions and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champions from the past 10 years who are active drivers and have competed in at least one series event during the 2004 or 2005 season.

The 90-lap race format for the All-Star Challenge is unchanged from last season, featuring three segments of 40, 30 and 20 laps. During the 10-minute pit stop between the first and second segments, a random drawing will determine whether as few as six or as many as 12 cars will be inverted.

The Nextel Pit Crew Challenge, the first of its kind ever sanctioned by NASCAR, will pit the crews of teams entered in the NEXTEL All-Star Challenge against one another in a head-to-head competition with $200,000 in prizes and bragging rights on the line. The event will be held May 19 at the Charlotte Coliseum.

The Nextel All-Star Trophy Tour will take the All-Star Trophy on a multi-city tour of North Carolina, kicking off May 10 in Raleigh, N.C. Stops on the tour will include Wilmington, Asheville, and Greensboro before wrapping up at the Nextel Pit Crew Challenge on May 19.

The Nextel All-Star Challenge Sweepstakes will allow fans to choose one driver among the top 50 in points standings to compete in the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge. Fans participating in the Nextel All-Star Challenge Sweepstakes will automatically be entered for a chance to win a $50,000 cash prize and an ultimate fan experience VIP package.

In an effort to further promote the events, $300,000 has been added to the advertising budget for the All-Star Challenge, pushing the total advertising budget to between $900,00 and $1 million.

The weeklong series of events are all part of a larger plan to keep NASCAR’s annual all-star race in the Charlotte area, where it pumps an estimated $94 million annually into the local economy.

“As any NASCAR NEXTEL Cup team can testify, it is teamwork that gets this kind of thing accomplished,” said Tim Newman, chief executive officer of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. “It is truly unprecedented teamwork effort in the Charlotte region that has made success of the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge continue to grow, and we will continue to annually make the pitch that this is the place for the race to be maintained, and it is the Local Organizing Committee that does all of the work to make this happen.”

The race has been held at Lowe’s Motor Speedway every year since 1985, except one year when the event was held at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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