We are coming up on Daytona for NASCAR’s start; the IRL is looking to rebrand and re-emerge yet again, Formula 1 is looking to find its place in the U.S. and even the niche sport of drag racing is trying to rebuild.
So as the economic times start to recede and sponsor dollars are becoming a tad looser again, what can racing do to find audiences to grow and keep adding fans for life. One idea is for one of the circuits to embrace a time-honored tradition between thousands of boys and their dads with the Boy and Cub Scouts of America: brand the Pinewood Derby. For those who don’t know, Pinewood Derby is a mid-winter troop by troop competition in which dads and sons take a wooden block of five ounces and fashion it into a mini-soap box car to compete against other troop members on a downhill track.
Pinewood Derby bonds fathers and sons and even daughters (Girl Scouts maybe join in too?), instills interest in science and design, gives kids an interest in racing away from a video screen and is just plain fun. Virtually every troop in the United States has the race, and generations of scouts have enjoyed the practice over the years. Yet, no one in racing has thought to find ways to honor design (especially now in the digital age), and add on some branding to enhance the car design. It probably is not a stretch that hosts of drivers, technicians and even sponsors who have gone through scouting can connect with Pinewood Derby as well. To have one of the major circuits latch on and find ways to promote scouting through a Pinewood Derby promotion could be a cheap, affordable longlasting promotion at a time when racing is not top-of-mind, but could provide a great lead-in to the upcoming season.
Odds are there are any number of drivers and crew members who have taken on a Pinewood Derby challenge over the years, and today’s more tech-savvy and innovative young people have had a great opportunity to make the cars even sleeker and more unique. The races are simple, and pretty fast.
Does it answer all the questions as to where racing can go to increase its viewership and demo? No. But it is a great grassroots tie to a group that has a strong affinity for brands that support it (the scouts) and has very little downside or large cost associated with it. Start your engines (or at least your blocks of wood)!