Race Day routines part of NASCAR’s success;
pep rallies, contests & corporate visits fill schedules
CORNELIUS, N.C. – Mark Martin, like most NASCAR drivers, follows a race day routine that’s a large part of the sport’s success but not often seen on television.
His schedule includes several hospitality visits outside the walls of the track hours before the green flag drops.
Martin travels to Aaron’s and Toyota corporate displays or hospitality suites for 15-minute visits and often spends time at meet-and-greets for customers of Michael Waltrip Racing’s sponsors.
That’s like coffee, it gets you going. It’s a whole lot of energy.
“That’s part of why we do this,” Martin said. “It’s the sponsors way to activate their involvement in the sport and as a driver it’s our way to get out and meet the fans.”
No two hospitalities are alike. At the Aaron’s display a DJ announces Martin’s presence in a pep-rally atmosphere. Amid the bass beat of Gucci Mane rap songs, Martin takes the stage to answer questions over the crowd’s cheers.
“That’s like coffee,” said Martin. “It gets you going. It’s a whole lot of energy.”
Toyota hospitalities are just as creative. Sometimes he’ll attend a gathering of Toyota car owners or he’ll banter with race fans at the auto manufacturer’s corporate display.
At Charlotte Motor Speedway, Martin and three of his crewman took on fellow Toyota driver Bobby Labonte’s team in a puzzle contest.
“We won,” laughed Martin. “We were three hours from the start of the race and we’re already competing.”
Fans spent the rest of the day at Toyota attempting to beat the times set by Martin’s crew.
It’s all about customer engagement said Rich Lamprey, Aaron’s sports marketing manager.
“Aaron’s races for its customers. We enjoy bringing our sports celebrities to our customers where they can interact on a more personal level,” Lamprey said.
“You can feel how the crowd lights up when Mark Martin and Michael Waltrip show up at our corporate display and sense how special it is to be close to their heroes. It’s that interaction that helps make fans appreciate Aaron’s participation in the sport.”
Sunday’s Pocono Race Should Be Faster, Shorter
But Just As Interesting With New Racing Surface
Mark Martin owns three poles in just 10 races in the 2012 season, leading a Michael Waltrip Racing team that has captured four poles in the first 13 races. The No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota driver plans to add to those totals this weekend at Pocono International Raceway.
The 2.5-mile triangle will look a whole lot different than the track where Martin has started 50 NASCAR Sprint Cup races. In addition to the newly repaved surface, Sunday’s race is now 400 miles instead of 500 miles. All teams will test at Pocono on Wednesday and Thursday then begin a normal race weekend schedule on Friday.
MARK MARTIN ON POCONO: “Thank goodness for 400 miles. There’ll still be plenty of time for racing. I love that place. I don’t know how good it is going to be for racing with the new pavement. I wish they hadn’t paved it, but we’ll deal with it and I am sure it will be a fine paving job and will be good for the fans for many years to come. Normally, new pavement isn't as conducive for great racing as old pavement. It’s a tremendous challenge from a tire manufacturers standpoint, it’s incredibly fast and makes it hard to pass. Old worn out race tracks let the drivers search around for the best lane. If we could get away without paving tracks then I think that is best. I’ll get to find out from the driver’s seat.”
WINNING POLES: “I couldn’t win poles without the fastest cars and that’s what (crew chief) Rodney Childers, the crew on the Aaron’s Dream Machine, and everyone at MWR is giving me. Plus, the power we’re getting from TRD all year has been great. All of us are still learning each other and I expect to keep getting better and better.”