Category Archives: nascar

Four years of racing and social media

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Today four years ago, I wheeled my car into the parking lot at 1500 Highway 19/41 in Hampton not too long after I got a phone call gauging my interest in a job that entailed a growing trend of social media and implementing it at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Now, four years later, it’s so hard to believe how big social media has taken off. In 2009, most brand barely had a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter. Now, they cannot afford not to, and more energy than ever before is being directed towards social media than before.

Any time you work within sports, chances are good that you’ll have some memorable experiences, and there have certainly been more than a few for me at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

1. You’re the brand advocate.

Thanks to mobile devices in part, more fans than every before reach out to brands with feedback and questions around the time of events. I’ll never forget then fan who was unhappy with a seat location on Friday of race weekend and let us know about it via social media. We were able to get their seating info and get them taken care of, and that fan went out of their way to make a post on our wall singling out our customer service efforts. That process began because of social media. There was also a Facebook wall post from a family member of a serviceman killed in Afghanistan, lamenting that the upcoming race would be their family’s first without them. We were able to do a few things for this family on race weekend – and fans in a campground put up a makeshift banner ensuring fans to sign it in memory.

You are the face of your brand on social media and if fans are excited about your brand, or displeased, you are the first one that they will turn to.

2. Social Media Is Two-Way

Yes, it is a valuable tool to sell tickets, but social media cannot only be about promotional elements. Do what you can to show your fans that you’re just like them…ask about their lives, find out what makes them tick. When you know your fans, you can produce better content.

3. Victory Lane

I’ll never forget being in victory lane during my first race weekend. It’s the place all drivers and crew members strive for, and being in the midst of it is surreal. The cool thing was that Richard Petty Motorsports was in victory lane…which meant seeing Richard Petty himself. I instantly thought of my grandad who died in 1998 who was a huge fan of “The King.”

4. Wear A Flak Jacket

You have to have thick skin in this deal. If fans on social media are unhappy with your brand, you may very well be the one feeling the biggest punch of that criticism. Don’t take it personal. I’ve been through two pretty heavy crisis events at AMS.

The first came in 2010 with the news that we would no longer have a spring race. Having to be the person to tell fans that the days of joining us for a March race weekend were over…was very sobering. Even though you knew the backlash was coming, that didn’t make it easy to face.

The second one was a year later with our Labor Day Weekend race being postponed from Sunday night to Tuesday morning due to rain. Obviously, many fans were not happy and they quickly took to social media to express their displeasure. In a situation like that, all you can do is keep your head up and make sure all response is aligned and to keep everything even-keeled. 

5. Laugh at yourself.

Accidentally playing “Crazy Train” instead of The National Anthem over the sound system at an event with 5,000 people is embarrassing at first, but becomes funnier as time goes on.

 

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Stewart’s Gesture Adds Another Comparison To Earnhardt

It’s a dangerous thing when anyone compares a present NASCAR driver to Dale Earnhardt Sr. It’s almost like comparing someone to Michael Jordan or Bear Bryant. No matter what they do, they’ll never match all that those icons were able to do.

But Tony Stewart is treading close to Earnhardt territory not only on the track, but off it.

Like Earnhardt, Stewart has won multiple championships, gained a reputation as being an aggressive driver on the track and still seeks a Daytona 500 victory (Earnhardt finally won Daytona in 1998 after 20 years of trying).

And then there is this – that after Sunday’s Daytona 500, Stewart visited fans injured in as a result of the wreck near the end of Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race. Here’s the  thing, though. There were no cameras, and Stewart didn’t appear to be doing it for attention. The visit was only reported after word was leaked to ESPN and Stewart’s camp confirmed that he did indeed visit the hospital.

This wasn’t a PR / image friendly TV spot. This was an ambassador of a sport saying, ‘get well soon and keep your head up,’ so to speak.

It’s not too different from what Dale Earnhardt was known for. There are stories within NASCAR from when Earnhardt was alive where there would be a family in need and Earnhardt would help them – only if everyone agreed not to let anyone know he was behind it. 

Within two hours, one driver may have done more than any statement at press conference could ever do. 

Turning a Tweet-Hack Into a Positive

Within NASCAR, Mark Martin has been one of the latest to both embrace and see a massive fan reaction thanks to Twitter. He joined earlier this year and has received numerous followers. Part of that is because Martin appears to ‘Get it” on Twitter – answering fans questions and even talk about his tastes in rap music!

This past weekend, however, Martin fell victim to what many of us do on social networking sites. He was hacked. His account sent out peculiar messages and his twitter name was changed to “Epic Swag”

Well, after recovering his account, Martin is now back online. But Hack Gate isn’t finished.

This weekend at NASCAR’s race at Auto Club Speedway in California, the roof panel of Martin’s car, which bears his name, will have a different look.

Instead of saying ‘Mark Martin,’ it, for this race, will read, ‘Epic Swag’

Well played, Mr. Swag. Well played. 

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Kurt Busch at The Varsity

When people ask what it is I do at Atanta Motor Speedway, I sometimes best describe it as, social media, but also a little bit of everything else. Part of that ‘everything else’ includes producing video content. It’s certainly fun looking back at some of the video pieces now compared to then, seeing how far the progression has come in that area.

One of the more fun videos was in 2010 when we had a promotion with Kurt Busch at The Varsity. I mean, NASCAR drivers, race fans and Varsity hot dogs, how do you top that?