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 LAS VEGAS, Nov. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Western Auto and Slick 50(R) are teaming up to sponsor veteran drag racer Al Hofmann in his quest for the 1994 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Funny Car championship. The announcement was made in conjunction with the opening of the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers' Association (SEMA) convention.
 "Western Auto is pleased to begin an association with one of the top teams in drag racing," said John Leach, president of Western Auto, a major discount auto parts and tire retailer that is based in Kansas City, Mo. "And we're also pleased to be expanding our relationship in drag racing with Slick 50." Earlier this year Western Auto and Slick 50 became the sponsors of a new NHRA national event at the Heartland Park race track in Topeka, Kan.
 "Our experience with NHRA event sponsorship has proven that drag racing is a good way for us to reach our customers," Leach said. "As a team sponsor, we'll be expanding Western Auto's presence at all the championship races on the schedule."
 Joining Leach in making the announcement at a news conference was William M. Jeter III, president and chief executive officer of Petrolon Inc., the Houston-based maker of the Slick 50 family of premium products.
 "The race track has been an important proving ground for our products," noted Petrolon's Jeter. "And our partnership with Western Auto has been good for us also. I'm confident that our joint sponsorship of Al Hofmann's racing team will be beneficial for all involved."
 The 45-year-old Hofmann, of Umatilla, Fla., is a 25-year drag racing veteran, and the winner of five NHRA national races, including three events in 1992. This season he won the prestigious Winston Invitational race at Rockingham, N.C. Three times this season Hofmann has made it to the final round of eliminations before losing to 1993 Winston Funny Car champion John Force.
 Hofmann's accomplishments have all been achieved without the benefit of major sponsorship, and he is confident that the financial support of Western Auto and Slick 50 will propel him toward his ultimate racing goal -- the national championship.
 "This is what we've been missing," Hofmann said. "Force has had a great testing program, and that's the secret of his success. I'll put my team up against any of them, particularly my crew chief, Tom Anderson. But we have to do all of our testing at the races, and that means we really don't get to do any development. We've got new parts that have been sitting in the trailer for six months, and there has never been a chance to test them. Now, we can afford to go the track just to test, and that's what it's going to take for us to make that last step.
 "I really can't tell you how pleased I am to have the support of Western Auto and Slick 50," said Hofmann. "I've been looking for this kind of support for 25 years. Before we leave for the first race of the season at Pomona (Calif.) in February, we'll have done two weeks of testing at Gainesville (Fla.) and we'll be ready to race. The more you can run the car, the more you learn, and the faster you can go."
 Western Auto, which operates and franchises more than 1,500 auto parts retail stores in 49 states and the Carribean, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sears, Roebuck and Co. Western Auto offers discount- priced auto parts, accessories and service and a complete selection of national brand tires at low prices.
 In 1990 Western Auto began its involvement with motorsports as the Official Auto Parts and Service Store of NASCAR and as the founder of the Western Auto Mechanics Hall of Fame in Talladega, Ala. The hall honors the mechanic's role
in the sport of auto racing. Since 1991

Western Auto has sponsored the stock car racing team of three-time Winston Cup champion Darrell Waltrip.
 Petrolon Inc. began its racing involvement with NHRA in 1990 by sponsoring Pro Stock motorcycle rider Steve Johnson. In 1994 the Slick 50 family of racers will include Top Fuel driver Shelly Anderson, Pro Stock car driver Rickie Smith, Top Alcohol Funny Car racer Randy Anderson and brothers Edmond and Scotty Richardson, Super Comp World Champions. In addition to team sponsorship, Slick 50 is also the sponsor of the Slick 50 Nationals, the third event on the world championship schedule. Additionally, Slick 50 is an active participant in the Junior Dragster program and is the founder of the Slick 50 300 MPH Club.
 Established in 1978, Petrolon Inc. is a leader in niche marketing of premium lubrication products. In addition to Petrolon's flagship Slick 50 Engine Formula, the Slick 50 line includes another dozen products for special lubrication applications.
 -0- 11/3/93
 /CONTACT: John Singler or Tom Cotter of Cotter Communications, (until 10 a.m. MST today) Las Vegas (Alexis Park) 702-796-3300, or Charlotte, N.C., 704-455-3500)

CO: Western Auto; Petrolon Inc. ST: Nevada IN: AUT SU:

SB -- CHFNS1 -- 9920 11/03/93 07:31 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 3, 1993

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