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Where have you gone Miss Winston?
Miss Winston was the pin-up gal for R. J. Reynolds Tobacco during its 33-year reign as the sponsor of NASCAR’s premier series, the Winston Cup. She is best remembered for the hundreds of Victory Lane kisses she delivered over the years. Her reign lasted from the beginning of NASCAR’s modern era, in 1971, and ended in 2003, when Miss Winston died of lung cancer. There is no Miss Nextel.
The original, and most important, Miss Winston was Marilyn Green, a leggy tobacco gal from Stokes County, North Carolina. She was working on the same block as the R. J. Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem when the call went out for single women who loved racing. Sure there had been Victory Lane girls in the past, but Green was as business-savvy as she was beautiful, and pushed Miss Winston as a shiny face for big tobacco. When she gave up her reign, she opened her own modeling agency in Greensboro, N.C. and was in charge of choosing all of her successors.
Green sought a girl with beauty and brains who was capable of representing the Winston brand in a corporate setting. The one golden rule for a Miss Winston was that she could not date drivers or crew members. This proved an impossible rule to uphold.
Of the 50 women who held the Miss Winston crown, four married NASCAR drivers, including Patti Petty, the wife of Kyle Petty and the mother of the late Adam Petty, and Renee White, the ex-wife of former Daytona 500 champ Derrike Cope. Andy Petree, a longtime crew member for Dale Earnhardt, is married to former Miss Winston Patrice McBride.
Denise Lowry (Miss Winston in 1986-87) married Texas driver Eddie Bierschwale.
The most famous Miss Winston of all was Brooke Sealey, who met Jeff Gordon Victory Lane at Daytona in 1993 after he won one of the Twin-125 qualifying races. in Sealey and Gordon went from the “it” couple of NASCAR to a tabloid mess after Gordon reportedly had an affair with a woman named Deanna Merryman, and Sealey walked away with $15 million in a nasty divorce. Merryman later appeared in Playboy.
Former Miss Winstons include Cielo Garcia, who gave up her crown to date Jamie McMurray, and Shannon Wiseman, who has worked as a correspondent for NASCAR.com and reportedly dated Dale Earnhardt Jr., for a short period.
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Latest page update: made by Florifan
, Aug 21 2007, 7:48 AM EDT
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Keyword tags: Adam Petty Andi Petri Brooke Sealey Cielo Garcia Dale Earnhardt Deanna Merryman Derrike Cope Jamie McMurray Jeff Gordon Kyle Petty Marilyn Green north carolina Patrice McBride Patti Petty R. J. Reynolds Renee White Shannon Wiseman Tobacco Twin-125 Victory Lane
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