Friday, August 24, 2007

No signal: AT&T logos off Burton's car at Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn. - The No. 31 Richard Childress Racing car was unloaded as a plain orange and black car without AT&T logos Friday morning at Bristol Motor Speedway.

With NASCAR Vice President of Racing Operations Steve O'Donnell watching, the Jeff Burton crew unloaded the car at 6 a.m. with a car that met NASCAR's approval.

That's because it didn't have AT&T logos on it. It didn't have any logos on the hood or the side panels.

The team hauler was plain black with the 31 number, and the team was wearing gray RCR t-shirts. All AT&T logos have been removed from pit equipment as well.

NASCAR and AT&T have been embroiled in a legal battle since March over the logos, the result of a merger involving Cingular and AT&T in December 2006.

AT&T had won an injunction on breach of contract grounds as U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Shoob ruled May 18 that NASCAR's grandfather clause in its licensing agreement that gives RCR a car number allowed for the Cingular logos to be changed to AT&T.

The AT&T logo has been on the car since May 19, but the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Aug. 13 that because the grandfather clause (enacted in 2004 when Nextel became the primary sponsor of the Cup Series) was designed to benefit RCR and not necessarily Cingular, that AT&T could not sue under breach of contract grounds.

AT&T plans to file for another injunction today citing other legal theories rather than breach of contract. It has asked the court for a hearing the week of Sept. 10.

AT&T has submitted paint schemes for approval, but NASCAR will not allow the AT&T globe or any AT&T slogans on the car.

NASCAR would have allowed a "Go Phone" paint scheme approved in 2005, which had Cingular on the side panel and on the rear deck lid.

AT&T submitted a revised "Go Phone" scheme but the Cingular wording was much smaller with no logo. NASCAR rejected that paint scheme Wednesday, according to AT&T.

No comments: