FAX WARS BENEFIT GREAT AND SMALL
by Larry Roberts
March 13, 1998
It seems as though those entities involved in the motorsports entertainment business discovered the fax machine just two years ago. Previous to that, our office received press releases, pre-race promotions and race results exclusively through the U.S. Mail. Often pre-race publicity arrived after the fact and results for one race in a series would arrive when the next event in that series was already being run.
But that seemed to change as the cadre of "old guard" publicity mavens of CART, IRL, NASCAR and the rest gave way to bright young college grads with degrees in communications. These go-getters realized that the fax machine is a fool-proof way to get information to journalists without having to go through the hassle of printing, stuffing envelopes, licking stamps - and waiting. Develop an automatic dialing program, feed into it all the dedicated fax numbers of motorsports journalists, push the "send" key and the job is done.
Since the beginning of the year, our fax paper budget has tripled - but it's worth it. We all get the information at the same time which means that we back-markers get the stories in time and aren't "scooped" by the heavy hitters. It works just as well for the minor leaguers as it does for the majors.
An example of this high-profile thinking is a press release that was faxed to us recently from the Classic Sports Racing Group (CSRG), a California-based amateur vintage racing organization that is sanctioning a sports car race at Buchanan Field, a municipal airport in Concord, CA. The May 15 race is held in conjunction with an annual air show put on by the Concord Chamber of Commerce and unlike events held by the amateur arm of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) or any of the dozens of other non-professional clubs in this country, the CSRG realizes that name of the game is spectators. Without paying customers rotating the turnstiles, the event would wither on the vine like so many others of its ilk have done.
Sports car racing is not new to Buchanan Field, according to the faxed release. The SCCA held races there from 1949 until 1956 when the crowds grew too large to handle, given the lax security techniques of those days. The races were renewed last year after a lapse of over 40 years through the efforts of a group of Concord motorsports enthusiasts who are also members of the Concord Chamber. This ad hoc committee enlisted the sanctioning help of a professional vintage car race promoter who made the event an unexpected success but elected to pass on involvement for 1998.
The CSRG has a novel twist on the event in that it will only be open to sports and racing cars that could have raced in amateur or professional events before 1957 and it expects to be able to field 50 to 60 of the renovated veterans. Last year several of the original drivers from those races at Buchanan Field of four decades ago competed in the 1997 event, one in his original Triumph TR2.
So the automated fax machine with it's all-encompassing and irresistible press coverage comes to amateur vintage car racing.
It will be interesting to see if this up-to-date promotional technique will have the same publicity results for the amateur Classic Sports Racing Group as it does for its high-profile professional counterparts.