Keeping it Off The Wall

Fast Friends
 by Ed Donath 
June 26, 2000

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Count being a good sport among the assets Pat Leahy brings to the position of VP CART Marketing. No sooner did Mr. Leahy move into his new office and start talking with the press than I seized on some of his interesting ideas and began writing about them in my own "off the wall" style. 

I've even written Pat Leahy "into" one of my stories…and recently got his blessing to run that fun-poking piece in a forthcoming issue of Champ Car -at a price. Leahy asked me to write a story for him that would motivate CART fans to bring their uninitiated friends along to races. The dual purposes of stimulating attendance plus making new "converts" for the sport would be fulfilled if such a strategy took hold.

Here's the marketing piece Pat Leahy asked me to write…

Fast Friends
"Friends and Family", "Friends don't let friends drive drunk", the popular TV sitcom "Friends"…the list of "friends"-theme products, services and programs goes on and on. Market research and demographic studies obviously indicate that having friends is of major value to Computer Age adults. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have friends are eager to spend as much time with them as possible.

"Why CAN'T you go to the Arts Guild Gallery opening with me this Sunday afternoon, Ed?" my wife asked a few summers ago.

"Because I have friends coming over," I said. They'll be here at one o'clock sharp."

"Are you talking about those CART racing people again? They're not your friends…they don't even KNOW you," Dorothy said, thinking that she had me on the ropes.

"They don't know me, huh? That's why Adrian, Alex, Gil, Michael and Big Mo all autographed those pictures in my office "to my "friend" Ed…and Christian Fittipaldi sent me that autographed photo merely because I sent him a get well card when he broke his leg in Australia…and the folks in Toronto called that Sunday afternoon in February to remind me about renewing my ticket, and…"

"All right, all right…I know you care about each other. I'll go to the gallery myself…but you'll have to take me out to dinner after the race, OK?"

"That's a deal, Honey…thanks for understanding and have fun with your art friends."

Here's a question: Would you rather go out to a restaurant alone or with a friend? What about movies…do you go alone? Most recreational activities from hiking to biking to golfing to concerts to dining-out are much more fun if you do them with your friends.

Your friends probably already know that you enjoy Champ Car racing. You're always telling them about the exciting finishes and the sights, sounds and smells of the world's fastest racing series. Perhaps you've even persuaded some of your friends to watch races on TV. But of course, we fans know that there's a BIG difference between the excitement of a televised race and the multidimensional excitement and ambiance of actually "being there" at a CART event.

Your friends in the FedEx Championship Series - drivers, crewmembers, race officials and the rest - are counting on you to be there. Like stage performers and musicians they all want to play to a packed house. That's part of the reason they call a race "the show".

Sad fact is: without those full houses your favorite race weekends are in jeopardy. The remedy? Introduce your everyday friends to your Champ Car friends. You can actually do that now at every FedEx Championship Series race weekend! Drivers make chatting with fans and signing autographs as much a part of their busy weekends as qualifying and racing.

"Friends", Romans and countrymen - I'm sure it's time for me to get off my soapbox now. Just one last reminder: Feel the speed...with a FRIEND!

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