04/16/2002 12:00AM

Penske shops Cup sponsorship


Penske Auto Centers, which closed all of its stores last week, is currently shopping its three-year sponsorship agreement for the Breeders' Cup Sprint to other Penske-related companies, racing officials said Tuesday.

Penske abruptly closed all 562 of its Kmart-based stores on April 6. Penske Auto Centers is part of a wide family of privately held trucking and auto companies founded by Roger Penske, including Penske Automotive, Penske Truck Leasing, and Penske Logistics.

Penske signed an agreement last year making Penske Auto Centers the title sponsor of the Sprint and seven races leading up to the Breeders' Cup in 2001 and 2002, with an option for 2003. Penske was also the "exclusive automotive service provider" of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, which merged with the NTRA last year.

"They are still a sponsor, and we are still going to uphold our obligations vis-a-vis the sponsorship until Penske decides to go in another direction," said Eric Wing, a spokesman for the NTRA. "All of this is being decided by Penske. They are exploring options informally for transferring the contract."

Wing would not disclose the financial terms of the contract, Other officials said the value of the contract was approximately $2 million for the first two years.