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Shelby backs NASCAR race

Las Vegas-based Shelby Automobiles has agreed to a one-year sponsorship of the NASCAR race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, officials announced Wednesday at the Specialty Equipment Market Association Show in Las Vegas.

The race will be lengthened by 18 laps, or 27 miles, and will be called the Shelby 427, speedway President Chris Powell said during a press conference at Shelby’s SEMA exhibit booth.

The amount of the sponsorship was not disclosed, but Powell said Las Vegas is one of the more lucrative sponsorships on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Shelby will use the event to market a limited-edition Shelby 427 package for the Shelby GT500 Mustang. Only 427 of the cars will be made.

Powell said he was getting a little worried about finding a sponsor for the race, scheduled for March 1, after UAW-Chrysler pulled the plug last year. He didn’t want to call it the Southern Nevada 400.

“Yes, I was concerned in that the economy has taken the turn it has and we really did not foresee the challenges ahead of us about a year ago when we were notified,” Powell said.

“When we went through the holiday season last year, we realized it would be difficult to find a sponsor and one that would bring the type of sponsorship we were used to in the past.”

Powell said the sales department for Speedway Motorsports, parent company of the speedway, worked the phones and attended automotive events to cultivate relationships.

“We searched high and low and you can imagine in these economic times, it was not an easy search,” he said. “We looked for over a year now for who’s going to have the (race) name and strangely enough, we found it there a quarter-mile from our office building.”

Shelby Automobiles operates a manufacturing plant at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Industrial Park, producing special Shelby versions of the Ford Mustang and the Shelby Cobra.

Amy Boylan, president of Shelby Automobiles, said the Shelby 427 will be an upgraded version of the Ford GT500 Supersnake package that costs $28,000 to $35,000. For another $5,000 to $6,000, the Shelby 427 adds about 50 horsepower, better handling, more chrome under the hood and the Shelby 427 Supersnake badge on the hood.

Shelby Automobiles became the anchor tenant at the speedway industrial park in 1998 and uses the track for research and development.

Contact reporter Hubble Smith at hsmith@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0491.

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