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US Pro History 101

From Professor Wilcockson:

Heiden said he would help as much as he could and lent his (very high-profile) name to the project. With that boost, Ochowicz secured trade sponsorships from Schwinn bicycles and Descente clothing and went to the 1980 road nationals in Bisbee, Arizona, where he recruited most of the riders he needed. But there was still the matter of a title sponsor to tie down.

Ochowicz said, "I ran my story by George Taylor [a Dutch sports agent living in New York City who was a familiar with securing major sponsorships]. George pitched my idea to the Thompson brothers at Southland Corporation."

John, Jere and Joe Thompson operated Dallas-based Southland, which owned the 7-Eleven convenience store chain and Citgo petroleum, and was one of the fastest-growing Fortune 500 companies. Taylor's approach to Southland came at a perfect time, said Ochowicz. A week before Taylor's visit, the Thompsons had concluded a major deal with 1984 Los Angeles Olympics organizer Peter Ueberroth for 7-Eleven to be a prime sponsor of the Summer Games.

"They'd been assigned Olympic cycling," said Ochowicz, "so they readily agreed to sponsor a cycling team that was tied to success at the Olympics."


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