Today's announcement that OSRAM SYLVANIA has renewed its sponsorship of the September Cup race at NHMS continues a partnership that has become synonymous with racing in New England. The partner first signed on to sponsor the then-Winston Cup Series race in 2003.
Since that first race on Sept. 14, 2003, a lot has changed:
- New Hampshire International Speedway was purchased by Speedway Motorsports Inc. in January 2008 and renamed to New Hampshire Motor Speedway. With it, came changes to the facility, a video board and scoring pylon, a more usable infield and a state-of-the-art bath house were a few noticeable improvements to NHMS.
- NEXTEL took over sponsorship of the series in 2004 and implemented the Chase, in which the SYLVANIA 300 served as the opener until 2011, when it assumed the second race in NASCAR's defacto playoff system. The series changed names again in 2008, when a merger between Sprint and NEXTEL dissolved the latter and rebranded the Sprint Cup Series.
- On the track, the Car of Tomorrow, which arrived in 2007 as NASCAR's fifth generation of Cup car, is now a car of yesterday, giving way to the "Gen-6."
Yet, one thing has remained the same, the SYLVANIA 300 still races every September as the last celebration of a New England summer. The extension through 2017 is slated to make it the third-longest running sponsorship in the Sprint/NEXTEL/Winston Cup Series.
On second thought, SYLVANIA is one of two things to remain constant through the changes of the last decade. Does the inaugural race winner look familiar?