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Auto racing: Social media amps up interest in NASCAR

Drivers' communicating with fans has generated many followers.
by Scott Wright Published: April 13, 2012

/articleid/3666175/1/pictures/1694591">Photo - Brad Keselowski, left, and Brian Vickers talk before qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Saturday, March 31, 2012, at the Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Sheppard) ORG XMIT: VASS207
Brad Keselowski, left, and Brian Vickers talk before qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Saturday, March 31, 2012, at the Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Sheppard) ORG XMIT: VASS207

“Social media has shown us that there are ways to communicate with our fans that we never thought possible,” said Waltrip, who is working as a team owner, broadcaster and part-time driver this season. “I have 150,000 followers on Twitter, and the thing we all have in common is our love of cars, so it's been fun for me to directly interact with those folks.

“I know that to race these cars, we have to have sponsors and we have sponsors because fans love what we do, too. So I love to give them all the information I can give them.”

Keselowski has been a prime example of utilizing Twitter to grow your public persona, not just with his Daytona 500 tweet. Last year, Keselowski tweeted a photo of his broken leg from the back of an ambulance after a wreck, quickly putting an end to rumors about how bad his injuries were.

The Daytona tweet posed an interesting question for NASCAR. Drivers are not allowed to have unsanctioned communication devices in the car, yet Keselowski was carrying a phone produced by the sport's title sponsor, Sprint. And he was taking fans inside his world, just the way NASCAR public relations people would encourage.

So, what was NASCAR to do? Simply step back and enjoy the positive publicity.

Keselowski and other young drivers drifted into the social media world with ease, but it hasn't been so smooth for the older crowd.

“Sometimes, it's a necessary evil,” said Biffle, 42. “I didn't want to do it originally, because we're so busy traveling and at the race shop and people are pulling us so many different ways. You just run out of time in the day to have any personal time to do anything. So those things that are added on top of your workload, at some point, it's almost like work.

“I enjoy Twitter, though. It drives a lot of marketing and it's good for sponsors and the sport in general.”

by Scott Wright
Reporter
A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and...
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