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Race fans flocked to tracks all over the country last season, breaking attendance records at events of all types. The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, who has calculated track gate r
eceipts over the last three decades for the major sanctioning organizations, estimated that overall attendance for the 12 major racing series in this country was just over 19-million last year, up about 5 percent from the previous year’s figures.”. Race fans are no longer stereotypical, cutting across all social, ethnic, and religious strata. The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) recently polled its membership and found that the median age for an SCCA member is 40.5 years. Twenty six-percent fall between the age of 30 and 40, and 50 percent between the age of 25 and 44. A solid majority of these people hold professional or managerial occupations (57-percent) and 61-percent hold college degrees or post-graduate degrees. In addition to the more traditional race fan, the recent upswing of interest in aftermarket import performance components and import racing activities has opened the doors for a new youth-oriented demographic as well. These Generation X and Y enthusiasts are not that much different than the big-bore racing enthusiasts of past generations. They still buy on Monday what wins on Sunday. Be it cars, performance bolt-on products or sponsor’s services, they are incredibly loyal consumers.

SCCA members have significant disposable income, with 78-percent earning 50-thousand dollars per year or more. The median household income among SCCA members is $71,000; with the average income being $82,550 per year. 73 percent of all SCCA members own two or more cars with 23-percent owning four or more. These are active demos with 58-percent attending one to ten race-related events each year. The average member makes four trips to the track each season spending an average of $565 per trip, which interpolated across the entire organization represents a SCCA fan travel market of over 1-billion dollars annually. Once they get to the track, SCCA fans are active as well with a full 87-percent participating in some capacity. Southeast region members also reflect these upscale national figures, which present a highly desirable, affluent, and well-educated consumer to potential sponsors. In addition, the dramatic increase in Japanese performance cars has created an entire industry based on aftermarket items for these vehicles. According to the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association’s (SEMA) most recent figures, retail consumers spent 19.3-Billion dollars plus last year on performance-related aftermarket automotive products.

The upsurge in interest in all types of auto racing has created an incredibly large fan base. From NASCAR to Formula I, to CART, to Pro Rally, to NHRA, to Dirt Track, and even to Lawn Mowers enthusiastic fans flock to racing events. Cable and satellite channel “Speed Channel” features motor racing 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The bidding war and eventual purchase of the rights to most NASCAR Winston Cup races by Fox television indicates how mainstream auto racing has become in our society. The government mandated withdrawal of RJ Reynolds as a sponsor of racing events has initiated a high-powered scramble for corporate sponsorships of Nascar and NHRA events, vividly illustrating that corporate America recognizes the race fan as a viable marketing target.  In the recent past, even Hollywood has jumped on the racing bandwagon, releasing the movies “Driven”, “The Fast & Furious”, and “2 Fast and 2 Furious”, all with racing-oriented plot lines. A list of licensed major advertising sponsors for NASCAR events (not including those for individual cars or teams) takes up two pages single-spaced and includes the likes of AT&T, Craftsman Tools, Eastman Kodak, Coca-Cola, GNC, McDonalds, Nabisco, Visa, Conseco Financial Services, Gatorade, and Kellogg’s. Companies all over the world are targeting auto racing and the auto-racing enthusiast with marketing campaigns for both auto-related and increasingly more non-auto related products.

Race fans are incredibly loyal to their sport and their sponsors. Track operators all across the country expected a drastic decrease in attendance following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US but have experienced just the opposite. NASCAR facilities that held races following the September 11th tragedies actually reported up to a 15-percent increases in ticket sales. The SCCA Valvoline National Championship runoffs at the end of the 2001 season were held at the same time as the disaster occurred, were run in the rain, actually had few cancellations from participants, and a record number of spectators for the race weekend. Following President Bush’s request for the country to return to “normalcy”, people made a concerted effort to do just that. What is different from prior to September 11th is that “normal” has taken on the meaning “family”. For the first time in recent history adults all over the country are turning to activities where all members of their immediate families can participate. Rather than individual pursuits, groups are looking for family-related activities and racing provides that kind of wholesome entertainment. Racing provides excitement for all age groups, at a reasonable price, close to home. The racetrack is a perfect venue for an advertiser to target these families, marketing goods and services to them while they are participating in an enjoyable activity.

Research has shown that race fans not only watch and attend national race events, they support local venues as well….
A survey recently taken of race fans and participants at Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia (the Washington DC region’s home track) shows that almost 80-percent of all race fans attending events at the track come from the Washington DC metro area. 41-percent come from Northern and Central Virginia, 34-percent call Maryland home, and 3-percent live in the District of Columbia. Advertising at this venue to these Mid-Atlantic race fans is a perfect marketing opportunity for a business based in that region. Gen X and Y race fans are becoming more and more of a target consumer group. One look at a performance car from this generation will tell you they are also not shy about demonstrating their loyalty to their favorite brands…logos from HKS, Flowmaster, Autometer, Eibach, MSD, Pioneer, Rockford- Fosgate adorn the windshield shades and body panels of many of the vehicles of today’s younger performance enthusiast. These younger loyal race fans have tremendous amounts of disposable income and they regularly buy products from local retailers. Again, race fans buy on Monday what they see advertised on local racer’s cars at the track on the weekends.

According to a national radio consulting firm, an effective Radio advertising campaign motivates about 5-percent of it’s total audience to purchase an advertised item…TV motivates approximately 3-percent of it’s audience toward purchase activity…and Print motivates less than 1-percent to buy an advertised item. In comparison, a racing advertiser has a captive audience of rabid fans seeing the company’s logo passing in front of them, lap after lap. Those gross impressions will result in an almost Pavlovian response when it comes to purchasing goods and services the following week and into the future.
If your business would benefit by tapping into this demographic then marketing through racing might be the “out of the box” type of promotion/advertising program for you!

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