Chicagoland Speedway's Tropicana 400 marks the second half of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Mike Mooney, director of corporate communications for Nextel, discussed with Chicagoland Speedway how the first half of the season has gone for them, what they are doing at tracks for the race fans, as well as the charities they are involved with.

Question: Chicagoland Speedway?s July 11 Tropicana 400 marks the second half of the 2004 season (Race no. 18 out of 36). There?s been a lot of speculation about how well a telecommunications company would do as the sponsor of NASCAR?s premier Cup Series. In your opinion, how well has the first half gone for you?

Answer: We?re pleased with what we?ve been able to accomplish in just the short six months into our new partnership. We continue to work hard every day to earn the trust and respect of NASCAR fans, drivers, tracks, sponsors and teams. Building those relationships is critical for success in this industry. It?s been a terrific partnership thus far, and it is growing every day.

Question: Winston had a long relationship with NASCAR and has been credited with bringing NASCAR to where it is today. What is your goal as the new sponsor in terms of taking NASCAR to the next level?

Answer: We have a lot of respect for what Winston has done for NASCAR. Their partnership over the past 33 years helped define the sport. We want to continue in that fashion. One of our core goals is to enhance the NASCAR experience for race fans through our unique technology, such as Nextel FanScan and PitCommand. As a technology company that always strives to offer what is first, better and different, Nextel is uniquely positioned to provide fans with unprecedented ways to go beyond being spectators, immersing them in the entire experience so that they are part of the action. We also want to take that technology and put it to work for NASCAR. That may come in the form of unique wireless communications tools for teams, tracks, drivers as well as the sanctioning body.

Question: What growing pains have you as a new sponsor had to go through while being a part NASCAR (i.e. what have you learned, experienced, etc.)?

Answer: As with any new relationship, it?s a constant work in motion. We believe that our perspective is the right one, that this is very much a marathon, not a sprint. So, we?re trying to pace ourselves in making sure that we bolt down the basics -- ensuring that the transition was a smooth one and that the NASCAR community saw continuity. The initial series branding logistics required significant energy. For example, we visited each race track to assess signage space and needs. In the end, we changed out more than 7,200 signs throughout the circuit. And not all the signs were the same size, so there was a lot of custom work done for the tracks. We?ve learned that it takes a lot of hands, hard work and heart to be in this industry and we plan to be here for the long haul!

Question: Will there be anything new introduced during the second half of the season from Nextel in regards to NASCAR promotions or at-track activities?

Answer: Absolutely! Nextel is working hard to deliver fans exciting racing action up-close and personal through two of our new wireless applications. Nextel?s FanScan and NASCAR.COM to GO?s PitCommand both deliver real time NASCAR action. Tickets for NASCAR races can be hard to come by and we realize that there are millions of NASCAR fans that are not able to attend races. So, our goal is to enhance the fan experience both at and away from the race track. These two applications make that possible.

For the fans who are not at the race track, Nextel FanScan In-Car Audio ? an exclusive, first-of-its-kind wireless service -- allows NASCAR fans to listen on any Nextel? phone to live radio communications between drivers and their teams during races.

PitCommand, available first from Nextel, uses in-car telemetry provided via Sportvision?s sophisticated Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to track the position of the entire field of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers in real-time as they compete during a race. Through their Nextel phones, fans can get a firsthand look at their favorite drivers? position on the track, lap count and time behind the leader.

Question: What is the Nextel Experience and what can race fans expect to see when they come to the race?

Answer: The Nextel Experience is a 6,400-square-foot interactive mobile exhibit. It embodies the energy of NASCAR ? from the bold paint schemes of the six full-motion, ?-scale racecar simulators to the real-speed action in the ?technology pit? ? and serves as Nextel?s iconic at-track fan destination. Fans gather here to have fun, connect with fellow NASCAR enthusiasts, compete in racing simulators, participate in pit crew demonstrations, view racing memorabilia and NASCAR artifacts, and experience Nextel technology. Fans can also take the Direct Connect Challenge, where they answer NASCAR trivia through Nextel phones and win prizes. NASCAR fans are also invited to make a free phone call from inside The Nextel Experience on one of the many Nextel phones.

Question: What is NASCOW and how does it work?

Answer: NASCOW stands for NASCAR Cell-on-Wheels. Nextel?s Engineering and Operations team developed a four of the largest mobile cellular units, which travel from venue to venue providing optimal service to Nextel fans all over the country. These NASCOWs represent 15 cell towers, which allow Nextel subscribers to make phone calls from the race track.

Question: How does Nextel?s Donate a Phone program during race weekends work?

Answer: Through its DONATE A PHONE? program, Nextel is collecting used wireless phones, in any condition, from any manufacturer, at all NASCAR NEXTEL Cup SeriesTM events this season. The phones, which can be dropped off at any one of four Nextel Service & Repair kiosks or The Nextel Experience, Nextel?s 6,400-square-foot interactive fan destination, will be recycled to raise money for the American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services, a worldwide communication network that keeps troops abroad connected with their families back home. Each phone collected results in a donation of approximately $1.70 for the American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services.

Question: What other kind of track-side activities will be available for race fans at Chicagoland Speedway?

Answer: Nextel just announced a sweepstakes that will award $250,000 to one fan that correctly forecasts the champion of the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. The prize will be awarded following the Ford 400 in Homestead, Fla. on Nov. 21, 2004. Between July 1 and Sept. 5, 2004, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series fans aged 18 or older can enter by selecting the driver they think will win the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. Fans may enter online at or; by purchasing a Nextel phone at any Nextel Retail Store or Nextel Authorized Representative; through any Nextel phone with Nextel Online Service; or at The Nextel Experience, Nextel?s 6,400 square-foot interactive fan destination at NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events. There is no purchase necessary and official rules will be available at Nextel also provides a Service and Repair kiosk for fans that have any questions or problems with their Nextel phones.

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