In an April 6 statement, Jim Wheat, president and chief executive officer of Penske Auto Centers, said: "Our team is focused on assuring an orderly transition for all of our constituents including customers and employees. Importantly, wherever possible, we will try to provide our employees with opportunities for positions within the Penske family of companies."The Penske group, according to the company Web site, includes United Auto Group, Penske Truck, Leasing, Penske Logistics, Penske Automotive, Truck-Lite, FER, DAVCO, and Penske Racing.The Breeders' Cup Sprint has been sponsored five times in its 18 runnings: in 1989 by Consort Hair Spray; 1992 by GTECH Corp.; 1993 by AmTote; 1997 by Buick; and 2001 by Penske Auto Centers.
Penske Auto Centers, which sponsored the $1-million Breeders' Cup Sprint and a series of prep races last year, announced April 6 it has discontinued operations of all of its automotive service centers. The company, part of the Penske group, operated service centers at Kmart stores in 44 states.When the sponsorship deal was announced last year, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association said Penske Auto Centers would get entitlement rights to the Penske Auto Centers Breeders' Cup Sprint, and also become the exclusive automotive service provider of the NTRA.NTRA commissioner Tim Smith, and Bryan Pettigrew, who heads up sponsorships for the NTRA, couldn't be reached immediately April 10 to comment on how the Penske Auto Centers situation would affect the sponsorship deal.