IRL: McGehee Keeps Pounding The Pavement

ST. LOUIS (Sept. 9, 1999) – The dog days of summer might mean plenty of breathing room between races for Energizer Motorsports driver Robby McGehee and his Pep Boys Indy Racing League team. But the 26-year-old from St. Louis, who earned the...

ST. LOUIS (Sept. 9, 1999) – The dog days of summer might mean plenty of breathing room between races for Energizer Motorsports driver Robby McGehee and his Pep Boys Indy Racing League team.

But the 26-year-old from St. Louis, who earned the distinction of Indy 500 Rookie of the Year this past May, has by no means been sitting still in the weeks between races on the IRL’s 10-race schedule for 1999.

“Between our Energizer promotional schedule and running my computer business -- and the racing schedule, of course – we’re in perpetual motion,” said McGehee, who with two races left this year (Sept. 26 at Las Vegas and Oct. 17 at Texas) is very much in the running for series Rookie of the Year honors. “When I’m in the race car, my responsibility is simple – go fast and finish well. But once I step out of the car, we’re doing everything we can to keep Energizer in the spotlight, and sell batteries!”

Since he stepped up to IRL competition with Energizer Motorsports at Indy this past May, where he finished fifth, McGehee has been the focal point of the program’s aggressive promotional campaign. But a new one has emerged, as well. The first-year team recently unveiled the Energizer Motorsports show car – a full-size replica of the black #55 Energizer Advanced Formula Dallara/Aurora/Firestone entry, complete with graphics featuring the familiar pink Energizer Bunny, that McGehee pilots at IRL events.

McGehee helped unveil the Energizer show car in his – and Energizer’s – hometown over Labor Day Weekend at the St. Louis County Fair & Air Show. In addition to signing autographs for the tens of thousands of fair patrons, McGehee himself got a rare treat by flying along with one of the five high-performance prop planes of the famed Northern Lights Aerobatic Team.

Next weekend (Sept. 17-18), McGehee and the show car are back at it by taking part in the 27th annual Great Forest Park Balloon Race, another major St. Louis area event and one that features the mammoth Energizer Bunny “Hot Hare” balloon. “This is what it’s all about – getting out into the community, interacting with the fans, and promoting your No. 1 sponsor,” said McGehee. “I’ve been racing for quite some time, but once you rise to the level of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League, the extracurricular activity rises to an all-new level, as well. You’ve got to take care of the sponsors and the fans who make it possible for you to be here to begin with. I enjoy it.”

Even prior to the Energizer show car’s arrival, McGehee has been pounding the pavement. He is a national spokesperson for the Think First Foundation, which involves lectures to school gatherings about head and spinal injury prevention. He also has been tapped by Firestone for personal appearances. In early August, he helped the tire company entertain state legislators from throughout the United States at Opryland, near Firestone headquarters in Nashville. A few weeks later, McGehee spoke to a dozen different groups of Firestone dealers at Gateway International Raceway outside St. Louis about how the company’s tire technology works on the racetrack.

“Being able to race cars for a living has been a blessing,” McGehee said, “and getting out there to promote the sport, and to promote the sponsors who make it happen, is the least we can do to hold up our end of the bargain.”

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Series IndyCar