Track president admits April Fool's gag
A $100,000 offer from Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage to a radio personality to change his name to promote the track was a hoax, Gossage said Wednesday.
Gossage and TMS officials sent out an official release Wednesday on speedway letterhead saying Dallas DJ Terry Dorsey had accepted Gossage's offer of $100,000 to legally change his name to TexasMotorSpeedway.com.
Media outlets across the country ran the story before Gossage admitted it was a fake, intended as an April Fool's joke.
We thought it would only be a radio promotion and that would be it. But it kind of caught fire and grew into something we didn't expect.” -- Speedway president Eddie Gossage
"We meant no malice," Gossage said Wednesday. "This started when the radio station [KSCS 96.3-FM] asked us if we would play along. We thought it would only be a radio promotion and that would be it. But it kind of caught fire and grew into something we didn't expect."
Gossage first posted information about the offer on his Facebook page Tuesday. He also posted a photo of the check if Dorsey accepted the offer.
Dorsey said Wednesday morning on his radio show that he decided to accept the offer after talking it over with his wife.
Gossage boasted on his Facebook page that news of Dorsey's name change was being mentioned by major media outlets:
"It has already brought tons of publicity," Gossage wrote. "The Today Show, CNN, Yahoo, USAToday, Fox News and countless newspapers, including one in Romania! Very cool!"
ESPNDallas.com posted a news story earlier Wednesday, based on the release. ESPN.com wrote a blog item about it as well.
The official TMS release stated that Dorsey would receive his check in a ceremony at TMS before the start of the Samsung Mobile 500 Sprint Cup race on April 18.
The news seemed credible because Gossage has made this kind of wild offer in the past. He once offered Dale Earnhardt Jr. $100,000 if Earnhardt would drive in the IndyCar event at TMS, which Earnhardt declined.
This isn't the first time TMS officials have been involved in an official news release that was a hoax. It happened on April 1, 2008, when a TMS release stated the speedway was adding a $900 million retractable roof that would be completed by 2011.
The first letter of each paragraph spelled out APRIL FOOL, but one Dallas radio station ran the story as a news item.
The radio station also has been guilty of April Fool's pranks in the past.
In 2003, the "Dorsey Gang" had reported on their morning show that exotic animals had escaped a zoo and were running through the streets of Denton County, evoking more than 500 phone calls to the station and to the sheriff's department.
Gossage writes a blog for ESPNDallas.com, but did not blog about the issue.
Terry Blount is a senior writer for ESPN.com.