WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — The Winston Cup Museum wants the community to help decide its new name.
After a legal battle involving the tobacco company that owns the Winston brand threatened to close the museum for good, the Winston Cup Museum has agreed to rebrand and will be allowed to keep the “overwhelming majority” of its assets.
At noon on Tuesday, the museum released the five options, all submitted by fans, from which the community can choose. You can vote on the Winston Cup Museum Facebook page by commenting with your favorite of the five choices. Voting will be open for two weeks.
- WCS Museum
- Will’s Cup Museum
- WinCup Museum
- Ralph Seagraves Memorial Museum
- The 33 Year Museum
The museum’s founder, William Spencer said the museum opened in 2005 “as a way to say ‘Thank You’ to R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company for their 33-year sponsorship of the Winston Cup Series and as a “gift” to the City of Winston-Salem to help preserve our unique place in NASCAR history.”
R.J. Reynolds debuted the Winston brand of cigarettes in 1954, and, in 1971, NASCAR launched the Winston Cup Series when the Winston brand became the title sponsor of NASCAR’s elite division, according to the history on the museum’s website. That sponsorship — and the Winston Cup Series — ended in 2003.
The Winston Cup era is considered by most racing fans to be the “modern era” of NASCAR. The popularity of the sport grew substantially during this time, defined by racing legends like Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.
R.J. Reynolds later sold the brand, along with Salem and Kool, to Imperial Tobacco Group, now Imperial Brands, in June 2015. Spencer said it was Imperial Brands subsidiary ITG Brands that sought to reclaim the history held within his museum.
“As everyone is fully aware, ITG has filed numerous lawsuits against me, my wife, our primary businesses, and the museum saying that ITG’s purchase of Winston Cigarettes from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in 2015 somehow gave it ownership of Winston Cup history,” Spencer said in July. “They claim we are infringing on their ability to market their cigarettes to racing fans.”
Spencer and the museum have fought back against ITG for four years, including two lawsuits that were dismissed. The third lawsuit, Spencer said, was “exhaustingly ongoing.”
In July, Spencer announced that the museum would close due to the costs of the legal battle not being worth it, both materially and personally. However, the museum opened its doors once again on Sept. 1. The Winston-Salem Journal reports that Spencer was fulfilling a voluntary 60-day shutdown in response to a motion that ITG Brands filed.
On Sept. 13, the museum announced that they had agreed to rebrand within 90 days, putting an end to the legal battle with ITG Brands after a 13-hour-long mediation.