DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (December 13, 1999) -- With all the anticipation surrounding Y2K and the new millennium, NASCAR has a lot to be excited about. New cars, expansive facilities and advancements in technology all will evolve as NASCAR leads the motorsports world into the future. NASCAR drivers, however, are sure to bring along a few things from racing's past that remain timeless -- a love for the action on the track and an honest respect for the fans that fill the seats.
NASCAR 2000 will spend the next several months exploring the future of NASCAR racing, with competition and fan interaction providing solid building blocks for the sport's journey into 2000 and beyond.
In 1999, there were 11 different winners in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, 15 different pole winners and 45 different drivers leading a race at some point during the 34-championship point race season. With all the excitement on the tracks, fans flocked to NASCAR events all over the country. With more than 130 tracks in 39 states, NASCAR provided 2,200 races in 13 divisions.
"I'm not sure how much more exciting we can get," said two-time NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division champion Randy LaJoie. "We've tried to take care of what was left to us by the drivers that started NASCAR. Hopefully, the next generation of drivers will take care of the sport the way we've tried to." NASCAR's younger drivers believe they are up to the task.Team owner Richard Childress thinks the better the racing gets, the more others will want to get involved. With Dodge returning to NASCAR in 2001, other manufacturers may soon follow, and with the new television agreement putting NASCAR in more homes than ever, new sponsors will find their way to all divisions of racing.
"The future will depend a lot on where Detroit (manufacturers) goes with the car bodies," predicted Childress, who has been involved in NASCAR Winston Cup racing for more than 30 years. "If I had a crystal ball, I'd say that we would get one or two more manufacturers involved in the next 25 years."
Adds Bobby Labonte: "With the new TV deal and new tracks opening in Kansas City and Chicago, there is a lot of excitement. The sport is always changing and the stars are always changing, so if we take care of things, I thing it will stay exciting for the fans."Off the track, NASCAR drivers realize their commitment to the fans can never waiver. Three-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Darrell Waltrip says there is nothing worse than a child all dressed up in racing gear who feels like his heroes are ignoring him.
"If you want to know the secret to getting to Darrell Waltrip, it's the children," Waltrip admitted. "It's always hard to walk by a crowd of people screaming your name, but I always try to take time for the kids."
Adds NASCAR Winston Cup driver Brett Bodine: "We have a clean, wholesome sport and I think sports fans are grasping for something clean and wholesome. I am proud to be a part of that."Respect for the fan is no accident for the sport that continues to set attendance records, successfully competing with other major sports for the television audience.
"Our drivers and team members are American heroes who come from a diverse background," said NASCAR President Bill France. "They realize that they control their own destiny, especially as it relates to how they represent their team, sponsors, family and the overall sport.So, as NASCAR heads into the future, it will hold onto many pieces of its past, as some things should never be left behind.
© 1999 NASCAR
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