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SPEED signs deal with HorsePower Tee Shot Tour
SPEED has reached an agreement with Texas-based HorsePower Sports Marketing to produce six original episodes of competition between eight of the golf world’s biggest hitters paired with some of the biggest names in Nextel Cup racing to form the HorsePower Tee Shot Tour beginning in the summer of 2008.

“This is a very cool opportunity to bring together the best of two very different worlds to create something new and unique,” said SPEED President Hunter Nickell. “And to be able to do it in a truly competitive format will make it a lot of fun for fans of both sports.”

“Power Golf” is a new concept which allows performers of all skill levels to participate. Both the pros and players will compete from the same teeing area and attempt to drive the golf ball long and straight to accumulate points for their team.  The racers have their own scoring system and the “Power Golf” pros have an accelerated system in order to earn valuable points.  Their earned points will be accumulated each event and also be accrued throughout the series of events in order to determine an overall championship team.

Four “Power Golfers” already have solidified positions in the events, with four more to be named after a qualifying event scheduled for Sept. 17 at Cabarrus Country Club in Concord, N.C. Thirty six players have been accepted into the event with the top four finishers qualifying to join Kevin Bullard, Brooks Baldwin, Vince Howell, and Danny Luirette to form the 2008 HorsePower Tee Shot Tour team.

A look at the four Power Golfers already selected for the competition:

Kevin Bullard, Cedartown, Ga. -- Bullard has quietly placed himself within the elite of the sport.  The power hitting baseball player at both the college and pro level, Bullard has transitioned his baseball skill to the tee box as a five-time winner of long drive events around the country.  Bullard is supported by PGA Superstore among others.

Vince Howell, Brentwood, Calif. -- A ten-year veteran of the sport of long drive, Howell brings extensive competition experience to the HTST.  Howell is currently playing mini-tour golf in addition to continuing his long drive career.  Howell has been a member of the Pinnacle Distance Team and is currently sponsored by Hydrate2o among others.
Danny Luirette, Scottsdale, Ariz. -- The lanky lefthander brings immense success to the HTST.  From the Finals tee box in the 2006 World Championship, to successful finishes on the mini-tours throughout the southwest, Luirette fashions a very competent game.  This ex-collegiate player at  the University of Colorado has multiple event titles and the ability to hit the golf ball long and straight, a Power Golf pre-requisite.
Brooks Baldwin, Mendenhall, Miss. -- Baldwin has quickly become a powerful threat to all the competitors in the sport.  Following a very successful high school football career, the strong twenty-two year old has successfully competed on the long drive circuits including a victory at the 2005 Alpha Classic his first time out.  His quick emergence has garnered sponsorship from TaylorMade.   
“We are thrilled to have such an outstanding array of power hitters compete in Concord next month,” said HTST President John Mamoudis. “The resumes of this group speak for themselves. To have world champion long drivers such as Sean “The Beast” Fister, Gerry James, Carl Wolter and David Mobley bring their potent action over to our new game is exciting.  But do not be fooled, the talent is deep and we can look down the entrant’s list and immediately spot plenty of firepower with an excellent chance to make this team.  This should be power packed action throughout the day.”

The eight racer entrants will be named early next year.

“A lot of these guys play serious golf in their spare time and the trash talking can sometimes get a little out of hand around the garage,” said SPEED analyst Jeff Hammond, a corporate spokesman for HorsePower Sports Marketing. “Now it’s time to put up or shut up.  We’ll see how cool and calm they are when they are standing alone on the tee box in front of hundreds of fans and TV cameras. There will be no driving helmets to hide their faces.

“All joking aside, I have recruited several of the drivers to participate and we feel this will be a great outlet for them from their highly stressful occupations,” Hammond added. “These drivers are all so competitive and will want to beat each other on the tee like they do on the race track.” 

The HorsePower Tee Shot Tour will kick off in May in conjunction with the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge on SPEED, with the competition continuing as companion events at races in Michigan, Chicago, Watkins Glen and Richmond, before returning to Cabarrus Country Club for the finale in October.

“The synergy between our product and SPEED is perfect,” said Mark Stafford, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for HorsePower Sports Marketing. “Club speed, ball speed, technique and mechanics will be the requirements for success on this Tour. Our sponsors will be treated to not only a tremendous television package, but a series of events which build a compelling story SPEED viewers can follow on a week-to-week basis.  We are ecstatic to be partnering with SPEED and are encouraged with the commitment from Hunter and his entire staff.”

In addition to the “Power Golf” competition, each stop on the Tour also will include a golf trick-shot exhibition, fan participation and a charity event to benefit the Petty’s Victory Junction Gang Camp.

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