Reynolds Won't Sponsor Young Racers
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. will no longer sponsor short-track stock car racing because 16- and 17-year-old drivers can compete in the races.
The company said today it ended its 26-year sponsorship of the NASCAR Winston Racing Series to comply with the ``letter and the spirit'' of the nationwide tobacco settlement. The move takes effect after this season.
R.J. Reynolds will continue to sponsor the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and the NASCAR Winston West Series.
The weekly short-track racing program is held at nearly 100 short tracks in 10 regions. It features thousands of competitors at some of the leading paved and dirt tracks around the country.
Anyone with a driver's license and a race car can compete in the Winston Racing Series.
``We have reached the conclusion ... that the NASCAR Winston Racing Series was unlikely to fulfill the requirements of the master settlement agreement due to long-standing rules regarding driving eligibility,'' said Rick Sanders, president of RJR's Sports Marketing Enterprises.
The nation's tobacco companies last year reached settlements with the states totaling $246 billion. The states had sued the companies to recover the costs of treating sick smokers. The settlements require tobacco companies to curb cigarette advertising and launch smoking-prevention campaigns aimed at teen-agers.
Tom Deary, vice president of the NASCAR Winston Racing Series, said the series will continue.
``The commitment at NASCAR to continue building our short-track program remains as strong as ever,'' he said today.