Daytona is still in the distance, Indy car is re-jigging, Formula E is looking for its niche, and under Chase Carey Formula 1 is pushing to find its new, young, engaged roots. Oh and in most of the US it’s cold. Still in basements across America, fathers and mothers and sons are honing a block of wood, weighing it carefully, custom designing it and hoping for a speedy trip down the track.
Isn’t it time for one of the circuits to embrace a time-honored tradition that is still doing well, even in a high tech world? The Pinewood Derby.
For those who don’t know, Pinewood Derby is a mid-winter troop by troop competition in which dads (and moms) and sons in Cub Scouts 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 parents and sons, 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 long lasting promotion at a time when racing is not top-of-mind, but could provide a great lead-in to the upcoming season. 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. By the way, combining it with Soapbox Derby, its bigger cousin, is not a bad idea either. There are opportunities for work with technology, woodworking, engineering, and of course team building, and it does not have to be just for boys. Also for those looking for content, from drones to microcameras, there is probably a play there that can live in a viral environment. Fastest car? How about a world record? And maybe, just maybe, there is a national sponsor who would enjoy the ride. What about racing elite or even celebs who have done Pinewood Derby? The storytelling side is pretty wide.
Start your engines (or at least your blocks of wood) and maybe, maybe racing can see an opportunity to reach engaged young folks, around the bonding of scouting.