Win on Sunday, sell another goal for automakers on Monday | Motorsport


DETROIT (AP) – Rick Hendrick removed any doubt that motorsport marketing is still effective when his automotive sales group bought the sponsorship rights through 2023 for NASCAR title contender Kyle Larson.

With few companies willing to back Larson on his return from nearly a year-long suspension for using a racial slur, Hendrick put the website on the hood of Larson’s car for his dealerships. Larson started winning races which, according to company officials, drove traffic to HendrickCars.com, which generated $ 1.8 million in leads and over $ 5 million in television exposure.

“We are having the best year we’ve ever had,” said Hendrick, owner of the country’s largest private car dealership. “The market is on fire.”

When motorsport found its way into the mainstream in the 1980s, the motto for car dealers was always: “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday”. But the 2008 economic downturn almost devastated the automotive market and NASCAR’s rising popularity began to level off. The marketing tagline was suddenly watered down to something closer to, “Win on Sunday, hope a customer comes by on Monday.”

Nevertheless, the manufacturers have not moved away from motorsport as a top sales platform. It has never been more evident than this year as spending resumed after the pandemic hit sales in 2020. Motorsport remains an important marketing tool for companies to show how racing technology is transferred from the racetrack to the road.

General Motors launched a special edition Corvette during a race weekend in the shadow of its Detroit headquarters. Lexus, Ferrari and Acura did the same for their new performance vehicles at IMSA sports car events. At a NASCAR race in Nashville, Ford used its all-electric Mach-E to accelerate the field and used its high-performance GT model to get VIPs excited for a few laps on the track.

The Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series was presented in June at the Concours Club in Miami. Although the sticker is priced at a staggering $ 326,000, the car ranks in the top tier of street-legal sports cars. His crossover appeal was underscored when he made his debut with his sibling Mercedes-AMG GT3 racing car, which finished 1-2 in class at this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona endurance race.

“We know from our customers, no matter how old they are, even if they are active in the digital world of racing, which is very, very good, that racing is proof of the technical performance, the validation of the car itself and the safety in many cases, ”said Mark Reuss, President of General Motors. “The two-way technical that we do in all of our racing programs are ultimately shown in our production vehicles.

“This is important to customers and motorsport is extremely exciting to see and participate in, so it’s a natural marketing space,” he said.

IHS Markit’s automotive analyst Stephanie Brinley said automakers are getting several benefits from their racing programs, from torturing new technologies to having a mostly immeasurable impact on brand perception.

People like to see competition and cheer for their brands, she said, and that means loyalty when it comes to buying a new vehicle. This not only applies to racing fans who love competition, but also to people who do not follow the sport.

“It gives owners a reason to cheer on their brand. It helps build an emotional connection, ”said Brinley. “This is really elusive, but it’s also pretty important to getting and maintaining brand loyalty.”

Automakers can use the racetrack to advance new technology in ways that they cannot replicate on their own test tracks, Brinley said. While there may not be a direct link to consumer vehicles, testing will affect the vehicles sold to the public.

“It’s an opportunity to put the vehicles in challenging positions that are not necessarily 100% under their control compared to a normal test track situation,” said Brinley.

Can’t you remember when your school won this state title? Do you need to place a bet? A place for decades of Valley Sports.

Ford Motor Co. points out the “Sweepstakes” car built by Henry Ford and Oliver Barthel as a racing car in 1901 to restore Ford’s reputation after its first failed attempt to own a car company. The sweepstakes won its first bet against an established driver and a car, and the advertisement helped Ford found what is now the fourth largest automobile company in the world.

For Henry Ford, the slogan “Victory on Sunday” had a more significant shift because he was able to start a new company on Monday.

“You saw what Henry Ford uses sweepstakes for – marketing and awareness, and innovation and technical learning, and he’s built a successful business out of it,” said Mark Rushbrook, Ford global director and head of Ford Performance Motorsports. “The core of it holds, for the same reasons and effectively, from that point to what we are today, through time.”

There is still an important element of competition, as noted by David Salters, who was named president of Honda Performance Development last October.

HPD leads all of the Honda and Acura high-performance racing programs in North America, and Salter pointed to the IndyCar race in Mid-Ohio in July when Josef Newgarden in a Chevrolet Colton Herta lost 0.0031 seconds in a Honda displaced the pole.

“You can find out where you stand as a company in every qualifying and at the end of every race,” said Salter. “Between two people, two different drivetrains, between people who adjust the chassis in different ways, and somehow you got it done faster in the twinkling of an eye.

“We start sweating when that happens. We go back, look at the data and try to analyze what the differences are and then bring that into our business. “

Almost every series awards a manufacturers ‘championship at the end of each season – in Formula 1 it is referred to as the constructors’ title – and it is an important tool for car manufacturers.

Edsel Ford II, great-grandson of Henry Ford, still believes the best way to sell cars is to beat the competition.

“I’m old school so I still believe that if you win on Sunday, you will do your best to sell on Monday,” Ford told AP. “Winning is so important to us and we are doing our best to market our victories to our customers and fans and we hope they will come over and buy a Ford on a Monday.”

AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher in Detroit contributed to this report.

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