By Mario 'secret cycling tragic' Andretti
In an effort to expand its cross-promotion efforts, the National Association of Stock Car Racing (NASCAR) announced today that it is looking to be a title sponsor of a US cycling team. The team, tentatively called Team NASCAR, is building its programme around the criterium racing circuit in the US. "It's a natural fit - criterium cycling and stock car racing!" said Buck Bretherton, vice president of promotions for NASCAR.
Though Bretherton declined to comment specifically as to whom the new team was looking to fill its roster, he did indicate what the criteria would be. "We are talking with current pros who fit the 'image' of NASCAR - both in terms of look and racing style." Along those lines, rumors as to likely candidates have circulated through the pro peloton. The recent talk is that Aussie sprinter Jeff Hopkins, currently racing for the Jittery Joes team, is high on the list with his trademark mullet. An inside source told Cyclingnews that original plans were to offer the team directing job to Viatcheslav Ekimov -- until the Russian trimmed his mullet.
Cal Naughton, Jr., senior vice president for marketing, also said NASCAR is looking to launch a criterium series tied to its racing series. "We want to have races going in the speedway parking lots while the fans are arriving. That will help them get them in the mood."
Two more names have also surfaced in the search, with Bretherton only eluding to the two having an interesting history which is why the team is interested. "That is exactly the type of rider our fans want to see racing," said Bretherton, "Remember the old NASCAR saying, 'Rubbin' is racin'!"
Riders are are encouraged to submit resumes for possible spots on the team.