Sears and Racing Champions have joined with the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and Route 66 Raceway to host the fall NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event at the Joliet, Ill.-based quarter-mile facility.

The Craftsman 75th Anniversary Nationals presented by Racing Champions will be held Sept. 26-29 at Route 66 Raceway. The $1.9 million race, which will be televised by ESPN2, is the 20th of 23 events in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series for 2002.

The Craftsman 75th Anniversary Nationals presented by Racing Champions will help launch a special anniversary promotion by Craftsman and Racing Champions. Racing Champions will produce a special die-cast model of the Craftsman Funny Car driven by Dale Creasy Jr. The collectible, which features the special 75th Anniversary paint scheme that the Creasy Family Racing team has run at selected events during the 2002 season, will be distributed at Sears and Sears Hardware stores during the Sears National Hardware Sale, Sept. 29-Oct. 14. The 1/64-scale die-cast model cars will not be for sale, but will be a gift for any Sears customer who makes a Craftsman purchase of $75 or more.

"Working with Racing Champions to present this special event at Route 66 Raceway is a great addition to Craftsman's anniversary party," said Henry Ferris, Craftsman brand manager. "Craftsman has had a long association with drag racing and the NHRA. The prizes given out at some of the early NHRA Nationals, nearly 50 years ago, were Craftsman tool boxes, and Craftsman has been the Official Tools of NHRA for more than 10 years. Since this is our hometown track, lots of Sears associates can come to the party."

It is the second NHRA event sponsorship involvement for Craftsman tools, also the six-year title sponsor for the NHRA Sears Craftsman Nationals at Gateway International Raceway, near St. Louis.

"We're pleased that Craftsman has increased its presence in NHRA by becoming the title sponsor of this very important event in our NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series," said Bob Wagner, NHRA vice president of sales and business development. "Chicago and its greater metropolitan area is a very important market for the NHRA and with the support of a company like Sears with its roots established in the region, it certainly brings a great amount of local pride to the event. With Craftsman's support, we have a great opportunity to showcase the fastest motorsports on the planet at one of our premier facilities, Route 66 Raceway."

The defending winners of the event include Kenny Bernstein in Top Fuel, Whit Bazemore in Funny Car and Warren Johnson in Pro Stock. The event is one of two NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events contested annually at Route 66 Raceway. "We are excited to create a partnership between one of Chicagoland's corporate icons, Sears," said Joie Chitwood, vice president and general manager of Route 66 Raceway. "The fact that Sears is utilizing our second NHRA National event in 2002 to celebrate Craftsman's tools' 75th Anniversary, it will create an even better atmosphere for our race fans."

Craftsman is an official sponsor of the NHRA and provides primary sponsorship for the Pontiac Firebird driven by Dale Creasy Jr. in Funny Car competition. In addition Craftsman provides associate sponsorship for several teams, including Jim Yates and Warren and Kurt Johnson in Pro Stock, Geno Scali in Pro Stock Motorcycle and Rhonda Hartman-Smith and John Smith in Top Fuel.

According to a 2001 EquiTrend Survey, Craftsman is rated the number-one brand in the nation for overall quality. Sears sells more than 1,800 Craftsman hand tools, all made in America and guaranteed forever. Sears offers Craftsman tools, merchandise and related services nationwide through its full-line stores, Sears Hardware, Sears dealer stores and Orchard Supply Hardware stores, as well as through specialty catalogs and online at

Racing Champions is a leading producer and marketer of innovative collectibles and toys targeted at males of all ages. The company's diverse product offering includes scaled die-cast replicas of John Deere agricultural equipment and NASCAR stock cars, other licensed vehicle replicas, pre-teen toys, sports trading cards, racing apparel and souvenirs and collectible figures. The company reinforces its brands and enhances the authenticity of its products by linking them with highly recognized licensed properties including NASCAR, NHRA, John Deere, Harley-Davidson, Case IH, Polaris, Honda, Caterpillar, Ford, GM and Chrysler.

Dubbed the first true "Stadium of Drag Racing," Route 66 Raceway provides top-notch entertainment for all types of racing fans. Route 66 Raceway is a multimillion-dollar complex including a quarter-mile, stadium-style drag strip with 27 luxury suites and a half-mile dirt oval track. The multipurpose facility hosts a wide variety of entertaining events, including two NHRA POWERade Drag Racing National events featuring Top Fuel, Funny Cars, Pro Stocks and motorcycle racing. Route 66 Raceway also features World of Outlaws, USAC Sprint and Midgets, demolition derbies, monster truck shows, Jr. Dragsters, car shows, bracket racing, music venues, an NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing event, and much more. Route 66 Raceway is located 30 miles southwest of downtown Chicago on Old Historic Route 66 in Joliet, Illinois, three miles south of I-80 on Route 53.

Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., the NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. It presents 23 national events through its NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. The NHRA has more than 80,000 members nationwide and more than 130 member tracks. The NHRA-sanctioned sportsman and bracket racing series' provide competition opportunities for drivers of all levels. The NHRA develops the stars of tomorrow by offering the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, NHRA Summit Racing Series, NHRA Summit Sport Compact Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Street Legal Program. The NHRA also offers the NHRA Castrol GTX Jr. Drag Racing League for youths ages 8 to 17.

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