ESPN, JIM RUSSELL LAUNCH NEW MOTORSPORTS BRAND;
ESPN RUSSELL RACING SCHOOLS PUT RACING FANS IN DRIVER’S SEAT
Bristol, CT & Sonoma, CA – (May 25, 2004) – ESPN, the Worldwide Leader in Sports, and Jim Russell Racing Drivers School, the pioneer and premier name in racing and driving instruction, announced today they have created the ESPN Russell Racing Schools, which includes the SCCA Formula Russell Championship. The ESPN Russell Racing Schools will introduce a wider cross section of North American sports fans to the exciting world of auto racing, combining ESPN’s vast media resources and Jim Russell’s expertise in professional driving instruction.
This is the latest agreement for ESPN Enterprises, the ESPN division charged with creating, launching and incubating new business opportunities – working independently or with outside partners. The launch of the new racing brand is timed to take advantage of the growing interest in motorsports. More than 20 million fans attend auto racing events annually and millions more watch racing on television.
“ESPN Enterprises is building a network of leading sports instruction schools, which started with the ESPN Golf Schools and now includes a racing school,” said Rick Alessandri, senior vice president and general manager of ESPN Enterprises. “Our companies have a shared belief in the growth potential of the schools and feel this agreement will benefit both organizations, as well as casual and avid auto racing fans.”
Each week, 94 million people interact with ESPN media – watching, listening, reading and logging on.
The ESPN Russell Racing Schools offer more than 10 different programs to race fans and driving enthusiasts from its base location at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and with courses held at famous racetracks around the country.
For amateur racers and aspiring professionals, the schools offer courses ranging from half-day “test drives” to three-day advanced racing classes in open-wheel formula racecars. Drivers interested in competing can enter the “arrive-and-drive” championship racing series. On its state-of-the-art karting track, the schools offer sprint and shifter karting classes for drivers ages 8 and older, in addition to an “arrive-and-drive” competitive series.
Additional courses include high performance driving classes at Infineon Raceway and through Performance Track Days at tracks across the country, defensive driving for teens and adults, and corporate programs to train commercial drivers or to entertain teams of employees.
The school also operates an internationally recognized Mechanics Training Program to train men and women to become race car mechanics.
“Few sports can match the thrill of racecar driving on a challenging race track,” said Ken Ude, president of the ESPN Russell Racing Schools. “This landmark partnership will introduce more people to the sport of racing with the highest caliber of racing and driving instruction offered in the industry.”
Instructors at the ESPN Russell Racing Schools have trained numerous champions in all of the top racing series including IRL, NASCAR and Formula One. Russell alums include:
- Tony Stewart --IRL Series winner and NASCAR champion
- Emerson Fittipaldi -- two-time Indy 500 champion, two-time Formula One winner and CART series champion
- Danny Sullivan -- Indy 500 and CART PPG Indy Car World Series winner
- Jacques Villeneuve -- Indy 500 winner
Other rising stars who have trained at the school include Nextel Cup driver Kasey Kahne and Red Bull F1 Driver Search scholar Scott Speed.
Initially the ESPN Russell Racing Schools will operate from a base location at Infineon Raceway, a 12-turn, 2.5-mile road course on the NASCAR circuit in Sonoma, Calif. Additional locations are planned.
About ESPN Russell Racing Schools
Racing legend Jim Russell created the racing school industry more than 45 years ago. For more than three decades, the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School in North America has been dedicated to teaching true racing techniques to professional drivers and people looking for the experience of a lifetime. The school, now called ESPN Russell Racing Schools, employs professional instructors and offers more seat time in the most powerful, well-maintained race cars of any driving school. The schools operate from its home base at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., www.espnrussellracing.com
ESPN, Inc. is the world’s leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring a portfolio of over 40 multimedia sports assets. The company is comprised of seven domestic television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Now, ESPN Today), ESPN HD, ESPN Regional Television, ESPN International (networks and syndication), ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine, SportsTicker, ESPN Enterprises, ESPN Zones (sports-themed restaurants), and other growing new businesses including ESPN Broadband, ESPN Wireless, ESPN Video-on-Demand, ESPN Interactive and ESPN PPV. Based in Bristol, Ct., ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.
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