Hooters exits as primary sponsor

Monday, April 12, 1993 – Hooters officials announce the restaurant chain is withdrawing its primary sponsorship of the No. 7 Ford for Alan Kulwicki Racing effective immediately. The decision comes 11 days after a plane crash claimed the lives of owner/driver Alan Kulwicki, Mark Brooks (son of Hooters CEO Bob Brooks) and two others. “The relationship between Hooters and Alan Kulwicki was unique,” Bob Brooks said. “… It is unrealistic to think that such a relationship could be formed with a new owner and driver in so short of a time.”

The crash occurred Thur., April 1 approximately six miles from Tri-Cities Airport in Blountville, Tenn. The Food City 500 NASCAR Cup Series race was scheduled for Bristol Motor Speedway that weekend. Kulwicki was the defending series champion as well as the defending race champion.

Bojangle’s, sponsor for Cale Yarborough Motorsports and driver Derrike Cope, also sponsored the No. 7 at North Wilkesboro (April 16-18) along with Easter Seals Foundation and Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children. It was the first appearance by the team since the plane crash, following an off-weekend after the Bristol race. Jimmy Hensley drove the car to a 12th-place finish.

Team owner Felix Sabates oversaw the operations of the Kulwicki team until a buyer could be found. NASCAR competitor Geoff Bodine announced on May 11 that he had purchased the team.

Sabates said the Hooters decision to withdraw its sponsorship was due to his refusal to name ARCA driver Loy Allen driver of the No. 7 entry instead of Hensley. The company sponsored Allen in seven ARCA races in ’93 and eventually seven Cup races (through Naturally Fresh) during the second half of the ’93 season. Allen qualified for four of the seven Cup races.

According to reports, Sabates stated that he “was empowered to do what is best for the team.”

“I am not going to put a nobody in the car,” he said.

BMS goes permanent with lights

Monday, April 3, 1995 – Construction on permanent lighting fixtures at Bristol Motor Speedway gets underway, one day after the completion of the Food City 500 NASCAR Cup Series race. Up until now, track lighting for the track’s August night race had been provided through the use of temporary units that were brought in for the race weekend.

BMS became the third track hosting NASCAR events to install permanent lights, joining Charlotte Motor Speedway and Richmond International Raceway.

While third on the list of those obtaining permanent lights, BMS had been running one of its two annual NASCAR Cup races at night since 1978.

For 2019, at least 10 Cup points races are scheduled to either be run under the lights in their entirety or scheduled to end under the lights at their respective venues.

Kulwicki among four killed in crash

Thursday, April 1, 1993 – Defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Alan Kulwicki was one of four persons aboard a private plane that crashed while en route to Tri-Cities Airport in Blountville, Tenn. There were no survivors. Others aboard the Merlin twin-engine plane were pilot Charlie Campbell; Mark Brooks, son of Hooters of America CEO Robert Brooks; and Dan Duncan, director of sports marketing for the Hooters restaurant chain.

Kulwicki’s No. 7 NASCAR Cup team was sponsored by Hooters and the group had departed Knoxville earlier that evening after Kulwicki wrapped up a sponsor appearance. They were traveling to Bristol for the upcoming weekend’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation, probably cause of the fatal crash was failure of the pilot to follow proper procedures for icing conditions.

Kulwicki had five wins in 208 career starts in the Cup Series. He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2019.

Sweeping changes for NASCAR schedule

A change in the championship venue, a two-fer weekend at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, and big moves for the playoff races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series highlight sweeping changes announced by officials with the sanctioning body on Tuesday.

The 23 venues are the same – those might or might not change next year with the end of the five-year contracts between NASCAR and the individual race tracks. But the order in which they fall on the schedule has undergone a major shift.

The 2020 title-determining race, dubbed the Championship 4, previously contested at Homestead-Miami Speedway will now be held at the newly renovated ISM Raceway in Avondale, Ariz.

The date of the event, Nov. 8, is also a change with the season officially ending a week earlier.

The Arizona facility, one of 12 NASCAR-sanctioned tracks owned by International Speedway Corp., recently underwent a $172 million renovation.

Homestead will host its lone Cup race March 22.

Cut-off races for the 16-team, 10-race playoffs have also shifted –Darlington will now open the playoffs on Sept. 6 while Bristol’s night race moves to Sept. 19 for the final race of the opening round. Charlotte Motor Speedway will now host the final race of the Round of Eight on its Roval (Oct. 11); and the final race of the third round will now be at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Nov. 1.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, said that “fans and the industry as a whole have been vocal about the desire for sweeping changes … and the 2020 slate is a reflection of our efforts to execute against that feedback.”

Meanwhile, Pocono Raceway will hold both of its annual MENCS races on the same weekend – Saturday and Sunday, July 27 and 28. The 2.5-mile venue has typically had about a five-week window in between its two Cup events.

Other notable movement in the schedule will include:

Daytona will continue to host the season-opening Daytona 500, but the second race at the 2.5-mile superspeedway, held in conjunction with the July 4th holiday weekend since 1959, will move to Saturday, Aug. 29 and serve as the final regular-season event.

Atlanta Motor Speedway gets a later date and potential weather break with a move to March 15; Martinsville’s first Cup race will be held on Saturday, May 9, the day before Mother’s Day, and will be contested under the lights; Indianapolis Motor Speedway replaces Daytona as the July 4th holiday weekend race.

The 2020 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Schedule:

Sunday, Feb. 9 – The Clash (Daytona)

Thur., Feb. 13 – Duel at Daytona

Sun., Feb. 16 – Daytona International Speedway

Sun., Feb. 23 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Sun., March 1 – Auto Club Speedway

Sun., March 8 – ISM Raceway

Sun., March 15 – Atlanta Motor Speedway

Sun., March 22 – Homestead-Miami Speedway

Sun., March 29 – Texas Motor Speedway

Sun., April 5 – Bristol Motor Speedway

Sun., April 19 – Richmond Raceway

Sun., April 26 – Talladega Superspeedway

Sun., May 3 – Dover International Speedway

Sat., May 9 – Martinsville Speedway

Sat., May 16 – All-Star Race, Charlotte Motor Speedway

Sun., May 24 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Sun., May 31 – Kansas Speedway

Sun., June 7 – Michigan International Speedway

Sun., June 14 – Sonoma Raceway

Sun., June 21 – Chicagoland Speedway

Sat., June 27 – Pocono Raceway

Sun., June 28 – Pocono Raceway

Sun., July 5 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Sat., July 11 – Kentucky Speedway

Sun., July 19 – New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Sun., Aug. 9 – Michigan International Speedway

Sun., Aug. 16 – Watkins Glen International

Sun., Aug. 23 – Dover International Speedway

Sat., Aug. 29 – Daytona International Speedway

PLAYOFFS

Opening Round

Sun., Sept. 6 – Darlington Raceway

Sat., Sept. 12 – Richmond Raceway

Sat., Sept. 19 – Bristol Motor Speedway

Second Round

Sun., Sept. 27 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Sun., Oct. 4 – Talladega Superspeedway

Sun., Oct. 11 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Third Round

Sun., Oct. 18 – Kansas Speedway

Sun., Oct. 25 – Texas Motor Speedway

Sun., Nov. 1 – Martinsville Speedway

CHAMPIONSHIP

Sun., Nov. 8 – ISM Raceway