Promoters making The Winston a delight for fans, drivers alike

December 19, 1991|By Liz Clarke | Liz Clarke,Knight-Ridder

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In an effort to inject more excitement into The Winston, promoters yesterday unveiled a new format featuring three segments, a record purse and a chance for fans to influence the outcome.

And assuming the kinks can be worked out, stock car racing's all-star event will be run at night -- under a $1.5 million lighting system that's still being developed.

"People are telling us it absolutely can't be done," said H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president of the Charlotte Motor Speedway, site of the event. "We're going to lose a few hairs on our heads trying to get it done."

The 1992 Winston will be run May 16 in three segments: a 30-lap leg, followed by a 10 minute-break for minor adjustments; a second 30-lap leg, followed by four laps of caution; and a final 10-lap --.

Fans will decide whether the second leg will start with an inverted field or in the order of finish on the first leg. Fans will vote before the first segment begins on ballots distributed at the gate. The results, tabulated by computer, will be announced during the break between segments.

In the past two years, The Winston has been run in two segments -- 50 laps, then 20. The format has proven less than riveting. Davey Allison led every lap on the way to taking the 1991 title; Dale Earnhardt did the same in 1990.

Promoters say the uncertainty of the lineup on the second leg should ensure that drivers go all out from the start. Prize money will boost that incentive.

The first-place finisher in each of the first two legs gets $50,000. The winner of the final 10 laps, which promoters claim will be "the most intense 15 miles in all of motorsports," gets $200,000.

A driver who wins the pole and all three legs of the race takes home $350,000. Total purse for the event is $1,081,000.

"If they want us to run backward, upside down, in the parking lot -- for that kind of money, we'll do it," said driver Phil Parsons.

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