While the office has scheduled numerous meetings in recent years between drivers and Hollywood execs, new this year is the way NASCAR is arranging the introductions. Whereas in prior years NASCAR had scheduled meetings throughout the day at offices or at Auto Club Speedway, which is located about 50 miles away from L.A. in Fontana, NASCAR is holding a cocktail event tonight at the EP & LP restaurant in West Hollywood with around 10 Hollywood execs and a spate of young drivers to allow for more intimate mingling.
Drivers expected to attend include Bubba Wallace, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Austin Dillon. Stoddard: "This year we decided that the most concentrated opportunity would be to bring them together in a more informal environment. It's twofold: it's an opportunity for our drivers to develop relationships with these people that can turn into (further) opportunities, but it's also an opportunity for many of these entertainment influencers — these people who command so much media and control so much media — to get a firsthand experience with several of our young drivers, who we think are really appealing and sometimes might flip some perception that (the entertainment execs) may have about NASCAR and our drivers."
SIGN & DRIVE: The effort to forge more content opportunities comes as NASCAR has at least two major projects it is associated with coming out this year. Pixar's "Cars 3" will see NASCAR officially associated with the series for the first time. Meanwhile, the comedy "Logan Lucky," set to be released in August, saw Stoddard get an executive producer credit. It features actors Channing Tatum, Hillary Swank and Seth MacFarlane. Stoddard noted "Cars 3" is about to start a marketing tour ahead of the film's release in June, and NASCAR will have a significant presence.
Stoddard: "We are strategic about what we do: 'Logan Lucky' is going to be millennial-facing and 'Cars 3' is for youth. … But what is relatively new in the way we go about our business is digital and social, which is an evolution in what we already do. … We're doing short-form content that is created specifically for social where we leverage our relationships with celebrities to align them with drivers and push out content to generate tune-in and build the NASCAR brand."
An example of that will be released later this week with a recently shot piece of content featuring Adam Sandler and NASCAR drivers that is meant to simultaneously promote NASCAR and Sandler's forthcoming Netflix project, "Sandy Wexler." Adam Stern/SBD