Q & A with Jason Peters
High Country Business Review
A: When I was little, I used to sit in the bathtub with a football helmet on, pretending to be Mario Andretti. I always wanted to be a race-car driver.
When I graduated from high school, I moved to Indianapolis. While I was there my closest friend’s dad happened to be a former driver, who to this day still gives me a ton of advice. It turned out that I didn’t have a clue how hard it was to race professionally.
Out of the thousands who try, only a handful make it. Of course, I tried, starting in karts, but I crashed a lot. That’s when I started being interested more in the sponsors than the drivers.
For the past 10 years, I have been following the business of open-wheel racing, working from time to time with various drivers. Persistence and passion were important elements in the equation.
A: I worked at Pepi’s Ski Shop last winter, where I was able to get some advice from one of our clients, who was extremely successful I asked him how he became so successful. His response was, “I was lucky, but sometimes you have to create your own luck.”
I knew I wanted to do something in this sport, but it’s not the easiest thing to get involved with. So I started sending out e-mails. Mike responded. He was with a new team that needed marketing help.
We talked several times over the phone on what ideas I had and what his future goals were. I ended up going down to Phoenix to meet with him, and it just grew from there. The key was I actively went looking for the opportunity. Now, this weekend I am in Indianapolis.
A: It’s hard but not impossible. Not because it’s a bad investment for corporations, it’s just tough to get someone to listen. Sponsorships are incredibly sophisticated. It’s more than just putting some decals on a car.
We are building relationships with other companies for the sponsor, in turn generating sales, increasing brand awareness, hosting corporate events, the list goes on. Not only is the car a marketing tool, but the team itself becomes a secondary marketing department for the sponsor. Because sponsorships are completely customized, the level of investment from a company can be very reasonable.
A: The Indianapolis 500 still strong. It is largest single-day sporting event in the country, drawing almost 300,000 spectators, with 40 more years of history than NASCAR and cars that go more than 220 mph. The Indy 500 is a worldwide event and still earns its title as “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
NASCAR is popular because it has promoted its series and drivers better. NASCAR has been able to effectively maximize their image and this why you see NASCAR everywhere. This has generated driver loyalty with the fans.
The Indy Racing Leauge is working on that, though. Danica Patrick has been promoted very well over the past couple of years, and this season she obtained a $21 million sponsorship from Motorola, which proves there is value in the Indy Racing League.
It all boils down to better communications. The more the public sees of Indy Car and its drivers, the more fan loyalty will be generated. The fact is, the Indy-Car Series has more diversity in its drivers from personalities, genders and nationality for fans to choose from. The racing is at extreme speed that is as exciting, if not more exciting, than NASCAR. With ESPN and ABC, you will see more and more people tuning in.
A: If NASCAR was a sponge, it would be completely saturated with sponsors. In order to really get any recognition, you have to be a primary sponsor, which could cost $20 million a year or more. The associate sponsors are paying millions of dollars and are completely overshadowed by the primary sponsor as well as all of the other associate sponsors. It’s the small fish in a big ocean scenario.
The Indy Racing League has only a moist sponge to deal with, so even the associate sponsors are seeing good return on their investment. And that’s at a fraction of the cost.
Using Burton Snowboards as an example, they’re in almost every snowboard shop. They have Shaun White and every other big name rider, usually having one of those riders winning a major competition. They dominate the magazines, and videos. This has given Burton enough market power to get the exclusive contracts with shops. Burton has done it right.
A: I am very lucky to be working with Mike. He really is the future of the sport. Great driver, all-American looks, and one of the most outgoing personalities, that is why he is a fan favorite among the Indy Pro Series.
His goal is to be in the Indy Car Series next year. Mike is very active with our sponsor, the TRACares Foundation. TRACares Foundation was founded by our team owner, Ken Losch. Ken is the type of person who motivates you to go above and beyond what you think you are capable of doing, and the charity reflects his philosophy.
Instead of giving a handout to someone who is disadvantaged, TRACares helps the disadvantaged become self-sufficient, eliminating the need for help in the future.
Go to http://www.tracares.org for more detailed information.
I want to focus my efforts on increasing Mike’s public awareness, and building more corporate relationships with TRACares Foundation and the race team. Like Mike, I want to be prepared for when we make the jump to Indy Cars.
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