to race in Coca-Cola 500 in Japan
Atlanta, Georgia (August 26, 1998)
Earnhardt Sr. will face his son Dale Jr. for the first time in Winston Cup competition
during this year's Coca-Cola 500 in Japan.
Coca-Cola Classic is delivering the hottest father and
son duo in NASCAR to racing fans. Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will race
head-to-head for the first time at the Coca-Cola 500 in Motegi, Japan on Nov. 22. To mark
this historic event, both Earnhardts will drive special Coca-Cola race cars.
The Earnhardts were joined Wednesday morning at "World of Coca-Cola" by
executives from the Coca-Cola Company, NASCAR and Action Performance Companies, Inc. for
the unveiling of the actual cars to be driven in the Coca-Cola 500 race at the new Twin
Ring Motegi oval. Dale Earnhardt's red No. 3 car features the signature Coca-Cola Red Disk
Icon and NASCAR-themed checkered contour bottle. The famous Coca-Cola polar bear is
highlighted on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s black No. 1 car.
"My dad is the reason I am in this sport and he's someone I have always looked up to,
not only as my dad but as a great race car driver," Earnhardt Jr. said. "The
biggest thing I'm thinking about right now is our team getting some cars ready that will
be competitive. It might be really weird the first time I try to pass him on the track if
I get a chance to pass him. But, it's something that will be exciting for both of us I'm
"The one time I raced against my dad (Ralph Earnhardt) was at a dirt
track," Earnhardt said. "I was racing this guy, and my dad, who was leading the
race, came up behind me and I couldn't figure out what he was doing. Finally he started
bumping me so I figured I better hold the car straight. He pushed me by this guy and I
beat him, then dad drove on past me.
"I got one exciting time racing with my dad and it was pretty neat. I would
have liked to have done more of it. It is exciting to see Dale Jr. grow into the sport and
it will be a great experience to race him in Japan. However, it wouldn't look very good
for him to beat his good old dad, now would it?"
"This is our third year of NASCAR racing in Japan and our first appearance on
an oval track with Twin Ring Motegi," said Brian France, senior vice president of
NASCAR. "The Japanese fans will get to witness something special when Dale and Dale
Jr. take the green flag. I know every race fan back in the states will be watching the
father/son matchup on TBS."
The announcement of this first race with both Earnhardt and Earnhardt Jr. comes
during a season in which both drivers have reached career milestones. Earnhardt, the
seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion, achieved a significant career goal with his
first Daytona 500 victory this past February. Earnhardt Jr. has taken the NASCAR Busch
Series Grand National Division by storm, winning five races and leading in the point
"NASCAR fans have been waiting to see Dale and Dale Jr. race on the same track
for quite a while, and we are happy to be a part of this history-making event," said
Jack Stahl, president, Coca-Cola USA. "Bringing friends and family together is what
the Coca-Cola Racing Family is all about, and having this great father and son team race
at the Coca-Cola 500 is a perfect way to cap our first year as the Official Soft Drink of
The company's involvement with the Coca-Cola 500 in Japan highlights its commitment to
work together with NASCAR to develop international programs for the sport. Although the
Coca-Cola 500 takes place thousands of miles away, diehard racing fans will be able to
tune in to TBS Superstation race coverage. In addition, fans and collectors in the U.S.
will be able to experience the excitement of this once-in-a-lifetime event thanks to
Action Performance, the industry leader in motorsports-related product licensing and
Action Performance has created a vast array of exclusive Coca-Cola/Earnhardt
merchandise and apparel that will hit mass retail department stores nationwide beginning
October 1998. Fans may also purchase the collectibles at upcoming NASCAR racing events and
order merchandise through the Racing Collectables Club of America (beginning Thursday).
"Our partnership with Coca-Cola is an example of how Action is using its
full-service marketing capabilities to capture additional opportunities for creating new
product lines, merchandising programs and marketing and distribution channels," said
Fred Wagenhals, Action Performance chairman, president and chief executive officer.
"Our abilities, added to the worldwide recognition of Coca-Cola and the legendary
appeal of the Earnhardt name, will give race fans one of the most exciting programs in
In addition to the Earnhardt's father and son debut, other firsts at the Twin Ring
Motegi race track include the first-time sponsorship of the exhibition race by Coca-Cola
Japan Company and the inaugural running of the NASCAR event at the new 1.5-mile oval.
As members of the Coca-Cola Racing Family, Earnhardt and Earnhardt Jr. have
participated in a wide range of initiatives on behalf of Coca-Cola designed to link racing
fans to their favorite sport. Fans can spot Coca-Cola Racing Family members on Coca-Cola
vending machines, in-store displays, on commemorative Coca-Cola contour bottles, in
pre-feature entertainment at local cinemas and much more. Other Coca-Cola Racing Family
members include Dale Earnhardt's wife, Teresa; Dale Jarrett, his father, Ned, and son,
Jason; Kyle Petty , his wife Patty and son, Adam; as well as Bobby Labonte; Bill Elliott;
Jeff Burton; Ricky Rudd; Steve Park; and Kenny Irwin.