I have entered the world of NASCAR sponsorship. Two months ago I asked my bosses for some cash so that I could promote All Left Turns on a car at an upcoming race. The powers-that-be never responded. Perhaps they thought it was a bad idea. And maybe it was. Maybe my idea of buying the smallest ad on the cheapest car and writing about it was a tremendous waste of time. What’s more, the notion seemed journalistically unsound. Could I write objectively about a car that has my site’s URL on it? The answer: of course not. I would root for it to win, crash, explode – whatever it took to get my site some screen time. So I faced two serious issues – a lack of money and a question of ethics.
At times like these I ask myself, “What would Paul Menard do?” Would he wait around for people to risk their money on his talent? No. He would dip into the family fortune to keep his dream alive. That is exactly what I did. Lacking a family fortune, I dipped into my PayPal account. But just like Paul Menard, I did not wait for someone who is not a member of my family to invest in my dream. I made my dream happen in spite of overwhelming marketplace resistance. When I heard Kenny Wallace was selling fans space on his No. 28 car at the Nationwide Series race in Montreal I went straight to www.kennywallace.com and forked over $20 for a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to “become a sponsor of Kenny Wallace.” This is how I entered the high-stakes world of NASCAR sponsorship.
All Left Turns became a NASCAR sponsor thanks to a confluence of government bumbling, geography and ingenuity. Wallace races for the U.S. Border Patrol, which stubbornly refuses to sponsor races on the other side of the border it patrols. This is, of course, a missed opportunity. If the government wants to stop people from entering the country, the best place to stop them is on the OTHER side of the border, which is where the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal is located. Patrol both sides. Canadians are polite. I doubt they would say anything. This is just another example of shortsighted government planning.
Wallace knew months ago that he would not have a sponsor for the Montreal race. Salvation came from a retired used-car salesman in Alabama who came up with the idea of letting fans sponsor the car. Wallace initially resisted. He shouldn’t have. Earlier this year Wallace told Scene Daily that he felt underappreciated. He lamented that most fans now recognize him from television and not from being a Nationwide Series driver. When the initiative was launched, Wallace discovered that he remains beloved by fans, thousands of whom are willing to pay $20 to watch him race. Personally, I am not a Kenny Wallace fan, but I am a fan of good ideas and shameless self-promotion, so our marriage is a happy one.
If all goes according to plan, Wallace will have 5,000 sponsors by Friday. Instead of answering to one sugar daddy, Wallace will answer to 5,000. For one race we are the Office Depot to his Tony Stewart, the Lowe’s to his Jimmie Johnson, the Chicken Pit to his Stroker Ace. Thanks to the awesome power and reach of All Left Turns, I have appointed myself as the spokesman of The 5,000, as I would like our group to be called. As your corporate benefactor, Mr. Wallace, I have a simple request. Obviously you cannot thank every member of The 5,000. Please pick one name – for example, Sarah Baxter – and repeatedly refer to “the Sarah Baxter Chevy” as often as you can in pre-and-post race interviews. “The Sarah Baxter Chevy was stout tonight. When Busch and Edwards tried to pass on the final lap, I knew the Sarah Baxter Chevy could handle it. It was a great race. Before I go I would like to thank my sponsor – Sarah Baxter.” That would be the topper to what is already a pretty cool move on your part.
The Montreal race is Aug. 30. You can expect more posts on my investment in the weeks ahead.