By David G. Firestone
While many people fondly remember The NASCAR Winston Cup Series, I think a lot of people forget how instrumental Winston was in NASCAR’s eventual success. In 1971, Winston and NASCAR came together, NASCAR needing promotion and money, and Winston with the ability to provide both. Since Winston is based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, it was also seen as a natural partnership. Winston and NASCAR had a partnership until 2003. The partnership was canceled due to the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement signed in 1998. The change did not, and still does not sit well with longtime fans.
Winston’s commitment to NASCAR and auto racing in general was nothing, if not fully committed. Winston used NASCAR to promote their products on television, even though cigarette commercials had been outlawed in America since 1970. One oddball thing that Winston did was to start promoting the 25th Anniversary of the Winston Cup Series in 1994, a year before the actual anniversary. They decided to do this using Winston Cup Champions on limited edition matchbooks. This promotion was never finished, and only a fraction of the champion matchbooks were ever released.
I recently opened a tin of these matchbooks on my YouTube channel.
These are the contents of the tin. The tin comes with a purchase of two packs, there is a metal tin in a cardboard box. Inside the tin is a wrapped package, and some promotional materials.
One of the promotional materials is a card to mail in for free gifts from Winston Select.
The other promotional item is a small catalog of Winston-branded items. These are bought using points from purchasing Winston products.
The main package contains 50 different matchbooks which represent a total of 12 different Winston Cup Champions. The drivers represented are as follows:
Richard Petty 1972
Benny Parsons 1973
Richard Petty 1975
Cale Yarborough 1976
Darrell Waltrip 1982
Bobby Allison 1983
Terry Labonte 1984
Dale Earnhardt 1987
Bill Elliott 1988
Rusty Wallace 1989
Dale Earnhardt 1991
Alan Kulwicki 1992
Why these were never followed up on is unknown, but I’m willing to bet that it had something, maybe a lot to do with the fact that the legal system was cracking down on cigarette promotions, and this was a casualty. In my mind, there is no other possible reason, at least that makes sense.
Next Friday Feature, a NASCAR officials shirt.