MPMC - Take a Friend to a Race. It Works!

SEMA Member News -- March/April 2009

New Program Helps Create Motorsports Fans

Member News, April 2009, MPMC
 Jeff Behrent, vice president of Behrent’s Performance Warehouse,
said that his wife and children took part in the Take a Friend to a
Race program, and the result was several new and committed motorsports
fans. A few young ladies not only got to attend their first dirt track
race, but also met a few of the drivers they saw in action.

It didn’t take long for the Take a Friend to a Race program to
gather attention. Almost immediately after the initial press release in
July 2008, inquiries began coming in from track operators, sanctioning
bodies, manufacturers, magazines and Internet media. Along with a
general awareness motive, the MPMC Select Committee envisioned that
exponential growth in attendance at motorsports events could be gained
“one fan at a time.” True to that vision, the following is a success
story for the Take a Friend to a Race idea that was relayed personally
to MPMC Chairman Bill Floyd by Jeff Behrent.

Behrent has been an avid motorsports fan all his life. He grew up at
the dirt circle tracks where his father raced, and he even met his wife
at the track. Today, Behrent is vice president of Behrent’s Performance
Warehouse in Florida, New York. Behrent’s is a wholesale warehouse that
has its roots in dirt circle racing, but today caters to almost all
forms of motorsports. On nearly any summer weekend, Behrent can be
found at Orange County Fair Speedway (
in Middletown, New York, working on a friend’s Northeast Dirt Modified.
His wife and three children also attend the races with him regularly.
Orange County Fair Speedway is located about an hour and a half from
New York City and features the various DIRTcar series action, including
the Dirt Modifieds.

When the MPMC announced the motorsports awareness program in SEMA
News last summer, the idea struck an immediate chord with Jeff. Who
better to help increase awareness of the sport he loves than the
participants and fans themselves? He discussed the idea with his wife,
and together they decided to see if it could work. They asked their
oldest daughter to invite three of her friends to accompany the family
to the races on the weekend of Jeff’s birthday. In preparation, Jeff
arranged to have drivers come to the grandstands during intermission to
meet the girls and sign autographs. This personal visit from “the
players” coupled with the racing action made the evening one of the
neatest things the girls had seen in a long time. The very next week,
one of the girls came back with her father. A few weeks after that,
another of the girls brought her father. Now both dads are asking Jeff
if they can accompany him into the pits sometime next year. Even more
interesting is the fact that none of the families had any idea that an
active dirt track facility existed just 20 minutes from their

Jeff’s experience is as perfectly scripted an example of how the
idea works as we could ask for. Not only did he make the effort to
invite some young people to an event, but he also used his connections
to ensure a “personal experience” for the girls. Having drivers come to
the stands to meet and greet the new fans immediately gave the
first-time attendees a connection to the participants and made them
feel that they were part of the action. Orange County Fair Speedway now
has five new regularly attending fans. Five may not sound big, but if
three more people can have similar results, suddenly there are 20 new
fans at Orange County Fair Speedway. Still doesn’t sound like much?

According to Wikipedia, there are more than 1,900 dirt track ovals
in the United States. If only one person at each track cultivates just
two new fans, that means almost 4,000 new fans in the seats at dirt
circle tracks alone! What about the paved ovals, road courses, go-kart
tracks, off-road races, motorcycle tracks, hill climbs and dragstrips
around the country? And the program is not limited to a fan inviting a
fan. How many people reading this article could easily work with their
local track or strip to arrange some sort of meet-and-greet session for
first-time attendees?

Jeff Behrent’s experience points out that some type of personalized
experience will have more of an effect on the first-time attendee than
a monetary discount alone. Making the new attendee feel immediately
connected by a greeting from a driver or a tour of the tower or a night
with a team will make the experience move beyond the machinery. These
promotions cost virtually nothing, give racing participants added
exposure in front of the fans and provide a connection between the
facility, the participants and the community. There is also a
trickle-down effect as these new fans tune into motorsports on
television or the Internet or buy print media. These added effects are
difficult to quantify but are nonetheless real.

Behrent has given us proof that Take a Friend to a Race is a viable
concept for promoting motorsports awareness. With Behrent’s and Orange
County Fair Speedway’s experience as a template, imagine the impact we
can all have on motorsports awareness by the time August rolls around
as Official Motorsports Awareness Month! If you are a motorsports fan,
Take a Friend to a Race, and watch our future grow.

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