Daily Edition: Mar. 2, 2006 Page 2

March 2, 2006

The package proposed by Charlotte totals $137.5 million, more than $120 million of which is public money. Most of the funding will come from a two-percent increase in the MecklenburgCounty hotel tax. Other contributions will come from state government and local companies. All but $15 million would be public money.

The Charlotte group's campaign was centered around a widespread advertising program featuring the slogan, "Racing was built here. Racing belongs here."

"The Charlotte-based NASCAR Hall of Fame is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for this region to become the preeminent destination for racing fans," Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory said last year. "This region already is a major hub for the sport of stock-car racing, and we can provide race fans an experience no one else can come close to replicating. A NASCAR Hall of Fame that highlights the legends and legacy as well as past, present and future of this truly American sport will be a premier destination attraction."

Atlanta was considered the most formidable challenger, considering its larger regional population base and numerous locally-based corporations that have strong ties to NASCAR. Daytona Beach was, for some, a sentimental favorite since the sport was born in the beach town's Streamline Hotel in 1947, but lacked the necessary financial and political horsepower.

The choice of Charlotte makes a lot of sense, because 90 percent of the teams are based within a 50-mile radius and it is considered the de facto home of the sport. Hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected to visit the facility annually, and the building is expected to contribute to the economic redevelopment of Charlotte's downtown district.

What is perhaps most remarkable is how NASCAR enticed five cities to battle against each other to build its Hall of Fame. For the price of a few plane tickets and a couple of press conferences, the Daytona Beach-based sanctioning powerhouse, which has transformed itself from a ragtag bunch of oval-tracking country boys into America's number-one spectator sport, gets a $137.5-million shrine to itself. It will even get to charge for the use of its logo and get a percentage of NASCAR-logo merchandise sold onsite. As for what will be inside the building, NASCAR doesn't have a collection of cars to put on display, or much in the way of physical memorabilia. All of the building's contents will have to be built from scratch of donated by collectors. Say what you will about NASCAR, but you can't accuse them of being dumb. -John F. Gardner

Racing News and Notes, Feb. 27, 2006 by John F. Gardner (2/27/2006)


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Find the Magnifying Glass

"We really need a magnifying glass to tell the difference between a good and bad year" in the European market, said Carl-Peter Forster, who heads European operations for General Motors. The stubbornly stagnant market has not moved much in either direction in recent years, and according to Forster, annual growth of just three percent should be seen as a great year, one percent as good. He noted that the Russian market is helping nudge Europe ahead, while Germany "has been showing some life" after several troubled years.

GM has been shifting corporate gears as it tries to entrench its nascent European recovery. The key, said Forster, is "maximizing the potential of our multi-brand approach." For years, the automaker put most of its eggs in its Opel basket, but it has begun to break the market up. While Opel remains GM's dominant European brand, it is letting Cadillac focus on the upper segments, along with Swedish brand Saab. Caddy sales hit 2500 last year, just short of the 3000 sales goal. But hopes are high for 2006, what with the upcoming launch of the brand's new BLS model. The small sedan will be marketed outside the U.S., where downsized luxury cars can still command a price premium. With the addition of the BLS, Cadillac expects sales to tip 10,000 this year.

Meanwhile, at the lowest end, Opel is stepping aside in favor of the recently launched Chevrolet brand. One of three new '06 models, the Epica is the latest offering from a brand that might have an American name, but which is really GM Europe's outlet for products developed by the automaker's Korean subsidiary, previously known as Daewoo. Last year, Chevy's European sales shot up 50,000 units, or 26 percent, noted Wayne Brannon, head of Chevrolet Europe. That's especially significant, he asserted, since Chevrolet had no diesel powertrains available, even though those high-mileage engines currently account for half the overall European market. Chevy's first European diesels are just rolling out, and the GM division is forecasting faster growth in 2006. -TCC Team

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