Winston Cup Museum closes following multiple lawsuits

The North Carolina museum housed 33 years of Winston Cup Series history

For 33 years, R.J Reynolds Tobacco served as the primary sponsor of NASCAR’s highest level. The Winston Cup Series served as a marketing outlet for the Winston Brand of cigarettes.

After the 2003 season, the series became known as the Nextel Cup Series. The 2006 merger of Sprint and Nextel saw the series re-named as the Sprint Cup Series.

In 2017, Monster Energy entered the chat. As the new title sponsor, the series became known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series until the deal ended following the 2019 season.

Since 2020, the series has existed without a title sponsor. It’s now known as the NASCAR Cup Series.

Yet, there were still places that held onto the history. A museum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina known as the Winston Cup Museum held onto an era from NASCAR’s past.

This week, the museum announced they’re closing their doors to the public following multiple lawsuits. The lawsuits followed ITG Brands purchase of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company for $7.1 million, a deal that closed in 2015.

Winston Cup Museum: Statement

The owner of the museum posted the following statement to social media on Monday:

“I opened the Winston Cup Museum back 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 – Which is something very important to me,” the statement from William L Spencer opened.

“I have fully supported the museum myself. It has never had any affiliation with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Sports Marketing Enterprises or NASCAR.”

“But, I have personally had their moral support and that has meant a great deal to me.”

“I am incredibly proud to have had the honor of preserving the history for the past 18 years that we have been open to the public. I believe I have helped keep the Winston Cup era alive for many racing fans. So, it is with great personal sadness that the time has come for me to close the museum’s doors to the public for now.”

Earnhardt Sr pushed Mark Martin’s buttons, just for fun


“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 Tabacco Company in 2015 somehow gave it ownership of Winston Cup history.”

“They claim we are infringing on their ability to market their cigarettes to racing fans. We have put up a good battle over the past four years against multiple lawsuits. Two of which have been completely dismissed. The third lawsuit is exhaustingly ongoing.”

“After much contemplation, I have come to the realization that fighting with ITG is not worth the resources that it will take and the toll it has taken on me and my family.”

“For the time being, if yoy see any branding that says Winston Cup, Winston Cup Series or Winston Cup Museum, please know that it is not affiliated with myself or any companies that I have ownership in. It will be ITG Brands using the Winston Cup to promote their cigarettes.”

The rental car scene from Days of Thunder was inspired by real life NASCAR stories


Winston Cup Museum | NASCAR