"Nascar Rocks," a concert series headlined by the Allman Brothers, will make 30 stops nationwide this summer. With the tour, Nascar hopes to bring the spirit of stock car racing to new markets, especially untapped urban areas.
Local on-site promotions will involve CBS TV affiliates; CBS-owned The Nashville Network; and Westwood One, the radio network partly owned by CBS.
Co-sponsoring the tour are Gibson Musical Instruments, Quaker Oats Co.'s Gatorade, TruServ Corp.'s True Value Hardware Stores and upstart do-it-yourself car parts Internet site Wrenchead.com. Each will provide hands-on activities for attendees.
Other sponsors of the tour, running June 12 through Sept. 15, include Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser, videogame maker EA Sports, Mattel's Hot Wheels, Penske Racing and Visa USA.
Despite the emphasis on car racing, at many stops there won't even be a local race connected to the concert. Instead, the festival-like concerts will feature Nascar-related activities and promotions designed to get fans under age 25 interested in the sport.
"Nascar is big in certain regions, but we still need to grow with younger fans and in certain urban markets and places where there's no Nascar track, such as Seattle, Chicago, Kansas City and Las Vegas. We decided to bring Nascar to these folks," said George Pyne, Nascar VP-marketing.
'LIKE THE GRATEFUL DEAD'
The Allman Brothers, a 30-year-old band, may seem an unlikely choice for attracting younger fans, but CBS claims the rockers are enjoying a revival with people under age 30.
"To kids today, the Allman Brothers are like the Grateful Dead -- there's a lot of interest in these groups from the 1970s," said Keith Ritter, senior VP-marketing for CBS Sports. The Allman Brothers and Nascar also share strong roots in the South, and together they want to expand to new regions.
Although CBS annually broadcasts several major Nascar races, including the CBS Daytona 500 and Pepsi 400, its interest in sponsoring the concert tour extends far beyond the small screen, Mr. Ritter said.
"Sports is now about platforms, not just media buys," he said. "It's more than just getting eyeballs and selling ads, but it's about being part of what's relevant at the grassroots level, delivering concepts and leveraging value to sponsors."
Westwood One hasn't previously covered Nascar racing on its radio broadcasts, but the company has dozens of its local radio stations tying in with "Nascar Rocks" for on-air events, promotions and giveaways, and may be covering some races in the near future.
"Nascar is one of the fastest-growing sports, and we're the largest provider of radio programming in the U.S.; we can help them grow their fan base," said Westwood One President-CEO Joel Hollander.
GROUP HAS EARNING POTENTIAL
Co-sponsors have embraced the racing theme and are eager to target the type of fan interested in racing and music, an audience that CBS said will have a great deal of earning and influence potential over the next several years.
Gatorade is bringing a Hummer vehicle equipped with a basketball hoop, obstacle course and soccer challenge for on-the-spot competitions at concert tour stops. TNN also is stirring competition among attendees with an interactive videogame center contained within a tractor-trailer. TNN will give away music CDs and Nascar-related prizes, and provide a sweepstakes to win a miniature race car.
Gibson Musical Instruments is providing a "petting zoo" of Gibson guitars and other instruments that concertgoers can play.
True Value is teaming with Wrenchead.com, a new site for do-it-yourselfers seeking auto parts, for a pit crew challenge inviting concert attendees to see how fast they can change a tire in a simulated Nascar pit.
True Value is extending its concert sponsorship to a nationwide point-of-purchase "Toolbox That Rocks" promotion centering on a mail-in offer for a "toolbox" containing a custom music CD and "Nascar Rocks" T-shirt and hat, among other race-related goodies.
"The concert tour and its target audience match up with our grassroots marketing efforts to reach do-it-yourselfers and younger fans; this also gives us a promotion to help our independent retailers generate additional business," said John Schmidtke, True Value's national advertising manager.
Wrenchead.com is using "Nascar Rocks" as its coming-out event as the site debuts this month offering car parts, tools and accessories including a Nascar-branded line of tools.
"The Nascar fan is precisely who we want to reach, and an event like this is the perfect way to get their attention and drive them back to the Internet," said Gus Conrades, CEO of Wrenchead.
Musicians Mary Cutrufello, Susan Tedeschi and Lucinda Williams will support the Allman Brothers at the admission-only concerts. John Schreiber Group, New York,