November 9, 2005

NASCAR rolling out new game to attract young fans

By Nicole Maestri

NEW YORK (Reuters) - NASCAR, whose fan base represents
one-third of the U.S. adult population, is hoping a new game
called Race Day, which is rolling on to store shelves this
week, will boost its popularity among young children.

Race Day's foil packaging makes it look like a pack of
trading cards, but when opened it includes a fold-out
game-board track and plastic cards with punch-out pieces used
to construct two cars modeled after those used by NASCAR
drivers, like Jeff Gordon.

"(Race Day) is not that traditional die-cast car," said
Blake Davidson, managing director of licensed products for
NASCAR, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. "We
need to grow beyond that, and that's what a product like this
lets us do."

Race Day is rolling out to store shelves in time for the
crucial end-of-the-year holiday shopping season, and as NASCAR,
whose U.S. fan base has grown 19 percent to 75 million over the
past 10 years, is stepping up its effort to draw more women and
children to the sport.

The stock car association has already released a NASCAR DVD
board game, a NASCAR licensed MP3 player and NASCAR clothing,
and it is also working with educational toy maker LeapFrog
Enterprises Inc.. They are developing a cartridge for the
Leapster L-Max Learning Game System that will be available in
the fall of 2006.

Davidson said the mostly math-based game, which is still
being developed with LeapFrog, will be geared toward kids in
kindergarten through second grade.

"They'll ask you addition, subtraction question and you
have to drive your car toward the right answer," Davidson said.
LeapFrog confirmed it is working on the product with NASCAR.

This year, Davidson said NASCAR expects $2.1 billion of
NASCAR licensed products to be sold.

Race Day, created by WizKids Inc. and recommended for
children ages 8 and up, will be sold in hobby stores and
Wal-Mart, Target and Toys R Us for $3.99 starting at the end of
this week. The game features 28 cars used by 22 NASCAR drivers,
and more cars will be available in new releases next year.

Mike Samora, vice president of sales and marketing for
WizKids, said Race Day has elements that make trading cards
popular, including the fact that it is a surprise which two
cars come in each pack and it is expected that kids will try to
collect all of the cars available.

"We see this as something that kids will save up their
allowances to buy," he said.