On the Monday after Mr. Gordon's win in the Nascar race on Aug. 6, a photo taken during the post-race celebration highlighted a Chevy ad in USA Today and in that week's Time.
When Mr. Donley, VP-associate media director, joined the Warren, Mich.-based agency in 1988, it was running race ads put together in advance. Going into a big race like the Indianapolis 500 or Daytona 500, agency creatives would put together as many as a dozen possible versions to run, in case a Chevy driver won.
Mr. Donley, 32, calculated that running an ad with a photo from the winner's circle was doable-through satellite technology. And that would save the cost of executions never used and add greatly to the ad's impact.
"Motorsports is one area where you have to get the message out the next day," says Mr. Donley, who quoted an auto marketing axiom: "Race on Sunday, sell on Monday."
Once the film of Mr. Gordon and his Chevrolet Lumina was shot and processed, it was taken to an on-site Time trailer where agency and client representatives made a selection and a technician provided a positive image on a video monitor. After cropping, the image was sent by satellite uplink to the Time production facility, where an agency art director and the publication's staff adjusted color and pasted the shot into a template with advance-written copy.
Images were also sent to another team at a USA Today facility near Washington.
Elapsed time from when Mr. Gordon took the checkered flag: 42 minutes.
The first Chevy race ad using a post-race photo appeared when Emerson Fittipaldi won the 1993 Indy 500.
Mr. Donley says Time has gotten letters from readers who claimed races must have been fixed, because they don't believe a winner's shot could be done on such a short turnaround.
"The ads give our agency and client the look of a leader, on the cutting edge using the latest technology to our advantage," Mr. Donley says. "I'm excited about the possibilities of new technology."