HERD Racing, LLC, Puts Marshall Out Front

We all enjoy the Thundering Herd teams racing by opponents, no matter the season. Most never thought they might enjoy watching Marshall racing by opponents on the NASCAR circuit buy some Huntington area people are trying to make that a reality at Herd Racing, LLC, which will run a Marshall car in the Nationwide Series in the NASCAR ciruit.

Herd Racing, LLC, is a West Virginia based NASCAR-sanctioned Nationwide Series stock car race team has received permission to put together a proposed Marshall-themed Nationwide Series car for the 2008 NASCAR season, using university approved logos. The car will also be number "75" in honor of the 75 lives lost in the Marshall football plane crash on November 14, 1970. That tragedy and rebirth of the MU program was the basis of the recent "We Are Marshall" movie that premiered in Huntington in December of 2006 and is currently on HBO and available on DVD from Warner Bros.

Dana Tomes is the Herd Racing majority shareholder, along with his wife Tonya, and both are alumnus of Marshall, and are excited about entering the Nationwide Series and promoting his, and many of his race team's, alma mater. "Being from this region and knowing the excitement that Marshall University generates when it comes to athletics, we thought this would be a great opportunity to bring Marshall athletics on a national scale," Tomes said. "Single race associations start as low at $1,000, and longer term sponsorship packages can include the company name on the tractor-trailer hauler," said Tomes of the truck, also done in a "We Are...Marshall" theme, "as well as on team and driver uniforms, pit crew equipment and more, like pit passes and race tickets for you and your guests.

"Stock in Herd Racing,LLC, are as low as $100 per share, with a minimum of 100 shares. That means for a minimum of $10,000, you can support Marshall University and Herd racing as a member of the team. Imagine being at Daytona, Charlotte, Atlanta and Bristol," said Tomes. Marshall University will not pay any sponsorship money for the car as Tomes said Herd Racing, LLC, is trying to promote the university and the Tri-state. Marshall officials have given full support to the possible car by allowing the use of the Marshall name, logos and slogans, like "We Are...Marshall" on the cars, of which there will be seven if all goes according to plans.

"It is with great pride and optimism that Marshall University has joined with Herd Racing, LLC, to enter one of the most popular forms of motor sports, the NASCAR Nationwide Series," states a letter from MU President Dr. Stephen J. Kopp, part of a large press and sponsorship packet. "We, as a university, believe this collaboration has the potential to reach more than 50,000 fans at each track with 35 events during the year. In addition, 1.75 million fans watch the race from their homes every week. As a co-sponsor, your organization would be advertising to a national audience, as well as highlighting your support of Marshall University."

Just like the cars, plans to get sponsorship are now under the caution flag, so to speak, for the approaching 2008 NASCAR season now less than a month away. Tomes has some sponsors, and hopes to announce them soon, and is working on more, needing $300,000 to just go to the opening race of 35 this year on the former Busch series. The first race is Feb. 15, 2008 at the famous Daytona International Speedway, called the "Super Bowl" of racing, and the first Nationwide race will be the Camping World 300. The team would like to raise between $3 and $6 million dollars to run all season long, with the final race on November 15 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the Ford 300.

Tomes, and driver Brett Rowe, hope support will come either locally as well as regionally to make the Marshall car, and Herd Racing, LLC, go at top speeds once the flag drops. The Nationwide Series normally runs at the same venue on Saturdays a day before the Sprint Cup Series, which was formerly known as the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series or even the Winston Cup in its early days. Nationwide races can be seen on television stations such as ESPN2 and Speed Network, and are heard in the Huntington area every week on 93.7 FM, The Dawg, which also broadcasts the Sprint Cup. ESPN 930, WRVC-AM, is the home of the Craftsman Truck Series, as well. NASCAR Fast Talk and NASCAR Live are heard every Monday on WDGG, 93.7 FM, the Tri-State's No. 1 station.

NASCAR racing has steadily become one of the biggest spectator sports in America during the past two decades, shedding its moonshine runners and good ol' boy image in the process. Many of the super speedways are often full of over 100,000 fans and sales of NASCAR merchandise is in the billions. While television ratings took a slide during the past two seasons, according to national ratings, radio ratings in the Tri-State area of Huntington, W.Va.-Ashland, Ky.-Ironton, Ohio continue to run as high as any region NASCAR markets to.

Hoping to have seven Dodge Chargers to race in will be Rowe. He was National Champions in the 2005 ARCA Lincoln Welder Truck Series. Rowe also tied for the driver points championship and won Rookie of the Year honors during the 2004 Truck Series season. He recorded a whopping 17 Top Five finishes in 2004-05. In 2006, he was ninth in the ARCA/Re-Max season and competed in nine races on the formerly named Busch Series.

Rowe is 40-years old, married and a father of three and is from Barboursville, just outside of Huntington. He has been racing since he was able to drive and has progressively moved up in racing in series such as ARCA, the ASA Series and the Busch Series. Growing up in the Tri-state area, attending school at Marshall and even owning Imperial Bedding Company with his family, Rowe said he is excited to possibly race in the Nationwide Series in 2008 while also supporting Marshall.

"I've been racing for a long time, and it's an opportunity to see how important it is and how much exposure (Marshall) can get at a race track," Rowe said on a recent appearance on the "Insider Statewide Show on the ISP Sports Network. "A lot of people know Marshall because of the movie, but I think NASCAR would bring even more to the forefront." Tomes, who is a part-owner in the Faith Motorsports team, thinks that experience and connections will help the Marshall car venture. "This will help both teams by having (the) Morgan (Shepard) program and the Herd Racing program work together as many other teams do," Tomes said. "Both teams can share people, share knowledge and share testing and setup data which will hopefully make both of them better." Tomes knows it is an uphill climb for this team but is determined to not be outworked in trying to get on the track for 35 events this year.

To invest in the team or to find out more about Herd Racing, LLC, call marketing manager Karen Gregory at 304-736-7303. Gregory is the former MU cheerleader Karen Wooten, and is married to former Marshall quarterback John Gregory. Other numbers are cell: 304-546-2210; fax 304-736-7332; or e-mail at karengregory@herdracing.com. The web site is www.HerdRacing.com as well. Tomes cell is 304-416-0445 and e-mail the president of Herd Racing, LLC, at danatomes@herdracing.com for more on this exciting NASCAR-Marshall tie-in.

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