Posts Tagged ‘Patrick Dempsey’
I just finished my second year of sixteen hours of volunteer work at the Barber Motorsports Park for the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Having grown up in Indianapolis and being a dedicated Indy Racing fan I jumped at the opportunity to volunteer at the Motersports Park and then was thrilled to find that as a Paddock Marshal I, and the fans, had a level of access to the drivers and cars that I had not experienced in my years of attending races in Indianapolis.
I’ve watched over the past two decades as NASCAR has replaced Indy as the motor sport of choice in the US and I puzzled as to why; over the past two days I’ve come to a better understanding as to why.
The IRL is selling competitive racing which is important but what the fans that I saw want are personalities; people that they can identify with, people that they can touch and be touched by. I watched drivers like Ryan Brisco, Will Power, Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick willingly, when asked give autographs and pose for pictures. But that was all they gave, no smile, no kind words, none of themselves.
I had been following Tony Kanaan’s difficulties in finding a sponsor and was delighted to find that he would be driving for KV Racing sponsored by Geico, my insurance company, here in Birmingham. Saturday morning Tony pulled up on a scooter and I assisted him by clearing the fans so that he could get it parked.
“Tony, I’m glad to see that you got a ride.” From Tone, not even a grunt, not a smile, tight faced he dropped his head and buy cheap viagra scurried into his team trailer. Tony passed on a brief opportunity to gain a fan, someone who might with pride continue to support his sponsor. Instead I asked myself. “Why’d they choose to support Tony, Warren Buffet’s smarter then that?”
Later in the day my duties of fan control put me in front of Patrick Dempsey’s autograph table. Patrick approached the table, he stooped and spoke to who I believe is the head of Indy Security, as he broke off his conversation recognizing what I was there to do, he acknowledged me.
“Thanks, having a good day?” Patrick gained a fan, he spent the next hour signing autographs, jumping up off his seat to pose for pictures and exchanging kind words. Patrick built his fan base and the fan base for the Dempsey Racing today.
Indy’s strongest ambassadors are Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixson and Dario Franchitti. They are always smiling they will always engage in conversation, they always have time for their fans. While I was on Patrick Dempsey crowd control duty the Indy cars were qualifying, after Patrick finished his autograph session I was sent back to the Indy area of the Paddock and I found myself in front of the Go Daddy trailer.
Danica exited the trailer, she looked like she had been sucking lemons for the past ten minuets, she walked to the front of her garage area signed five autographs and disappeared. The comments from the parents of the children who were getting autographs summed up the experience; ”She’s angry she didn’t qualify well.” Then muttered, “She gave autographs because that’s what she was told to do.”
The IRL needs to teach their drivers how to market themselves and the importance of marketing themselves.
Diver’s need to understand that their future depends on two things: 1. Winning races and 2. Building a loyal fan base. You can survive not achieving number one but you’ll die without number two. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is proof that a popular driver can survive without wins, Tony Kanaan, and Dan Weldon are recent victims of a weak fan base.