Connecting with stock car racing drivers is easier than one might think. In fact, it's the fourth reason (of my top five) that Nascar is my favorite sport. In other sports it's pretty difficult to meet any of the stars, mainly due to the fact that the fans are not integral to the star's paycheck. He will be paid whether the fans love him or hate him. But in Stock car racing, the fans carry much more weight to a driver's future success.
The fact of the matter is that whether a driver is in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide series, Late models or even the Karts, they realize that fans drive the sport (no pun intended). Well, actually, companies and advertisers are the main funds of the stock car enterprise- and the companies sponsor the drivers. And obviously, businesses want a car with their logo in the winner's circle, but these companies also want to sponsor drivers that have FANS. Just think of it from a twitter perspective. If I ran a major company and I wanted to sponsor a driver, and I had a choice between two drivers of equal talent, would I sponsor a driver with 10,000 fans or 100,000?
For example, Ricky Stenhouse recently had a contest on his twitter (@StenhouseJr ) where his followers had to take a picture doing something "extreme" with a NOS energy logo in the shot- he picked six of the entries and put the winner's name on his car for the Texas race. From NOS' perspective, he's got 50,000 followers, and every tweet laced with #imNOSome was marketing gold. Not only did these 50k followers get these tweets, but also those following their friends who made an entry got a little bit of NOS grassroots advertising.
posted a blog where I described an event where my family was able to meet Danica Patrick, Ricky Stenhouse, Elliot Sadler as well as many others in the Nationwide series. I mentioned Jeremy Clements in the blog and tagged him in the tweet that promoted that blog entry. Within minutes Jeremy, currently 14th overall in the Nationwide Series, had responded with a series of tweets you can see above. Not only was he great to meet in person, he also was very complimentary in twitterville. There's no doubt that I will be rooting for the #51 the next time I see a Nationwide race. I followed him on twitter at @JClements51 and will think of these interactions every time I see him race. Yes, Jeremy is probably a genuinely a nice guy, but he's also quite marketing savy. He's realized that this is exactly what he needs to do to drive up his fan base and eventually to secure more and more sponsors.
Whether intentional or not, Nascar has structured itself to be fan-friendly, and the drivers have something to gain by meeting fans, whether well-worn veterans or Nascar Newbs like myself.
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