Opinion Editorial by Jason “Stix” Buckley (The views expressed in this column are the views and opinions of the author of the article. His views are not necessarily those of LegendsNation.com, its sponsors or other contributors.)
(photo credit: Atlanta Motor Speedway)
When someone as iconic in motorsports such as champion Jeff Gordon receives a gift during his final full-time season of racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, you would think I would be thrilled. I am not, well, not completely. But it isn’t what you think.
Prior to the start of the 2015 season of racing in the big time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Jeff Gordon announced this year would be his last. He didn’t call it “retirement” from the sport and pretty well didn’t want a farewell tour or retirement celebration. But we all knew he would be getting various gifts and such from fans, tracks, and others within the sport.
Today (Friday, February 27th, 2015) at Atlanta Motor Speedway (GA), Jeff Gordon was invited in to the media center for a surprise. What was it? Ed Clark, President and General Manager at AMS, presented Jeff with a No. 24 Bandolero with the words “Thanks Jeff from Atlanta Motor Speedway” on the hood and Gordon’s four-year-old son’s name Leo on over the passenger door (a few media reports stated his seven-year-old daughter’s name Ella was over the driver’s door, but it was only photographed from the right side and I cannot confirm that). Jeff joked that Leo would want to sleep in it and it might end up in his bedroom for a few years.
Many media tweeted out photos and information about it. It got a lot of buzz.
So what is my beef?
My beef isn’t with the gift itself. In fact, I think it is brilliant on many levels. My beef is with some people online and their comments about it.
Some on the LN social media as well as other places online I found made comments about Jeff being able to afford the car on his own and Atlanta Motor Speedway should have given it to someone that couldn’t afford it. Comments like “the rich get richer” and “I can’t afford one but you give one to Jeff SMH” made their way on social media. Really people?
Evaluation time here, but first, a few facts.
Speedway Motorsports Inc. owns Atlanta Motor Speedway. They also own U.S. Legend Cars International, which produces the Bandolero car. Can you see where this is going?
By Atlanta Motor Speedway doing this with a very high-profiled driver in NASCAR on his final year racing in the top level of the sport, they were doing some serious marketing. Sure, it was a nice gesture, but do not kid yourselves. It was a marketing plan to help bring Bandoleros more into the public eye of NASCAR race fans who might want to get their kids into racing. What could be more brilliant and better for the SMI company and USLCI than to use this opportunity to market one of their products?
On top of that, it generates more exposure for Bandoleros (and Legends) to mainstream that might not even know what the heck these cars are. This could help gain fan and media exposure to the kids currently racing in Bandoleros and Legends, and could even bring more sponsorships into the sport. Isn’t that a good thing?
Yes it is.
So that is why it ticks me off that some people whine and complain about this. For years, many, including me, have questioned USLCI’s marketing and promotions of their product. This though was brilliant.
Can Jeff Gordon afford a Bandolero? Yes. He probably has enough money to buy out USLCI completely from SMI if he wanted to. But this was more than just a gift in my opinion. It was smart marketing. And if you do not see this or understand this, not only do you not understand business, you probably shouldn’t be in the sport either.
I see what you did there Ed Clark, SMI, AMS, and USLCI. Kudos.