Monday, September 25, 2006


It's time for the bicycle industry's biggest trade show of the year, Interbike. Although I won't be reporting from the show there are many people that will be covering it every single day. If I were to follow along online these are a few of the places I'd go for the best information:

Singletrack Magazine - Chipps will have nightly reports as he does every year. I have no doubt that they will be fantastic!

Crooked Cog Podcast - Tim Grahl has an incredible goal for thie year's show - 15 podcasts per day from the show floor! Wow. Here's a tip. I know that he's got Bob Roll slated for Thursday afternoon....

Masiguy - Yes, our friend and smart cookie Tim Jackson has said he's going to try to blog from the show floor.

Bicycling - The Rodale team are on a mission during the show. They have product features every day on the site.

I'm sure there will be many other people there as well. Check these out and then look for others. If you have a favorite Interbike site, let people know here so they can follow the fun and new, shiny gear, too.

Thanks for stopping by.

NASCAR helmet & charity auction

The Fall Foliage Run weekend was a great fun and the auction brought in thousands of dollars for charity. I'm not sure of the final tally, but will let you know when I know.

(4-time series champion Jeff Gordon & 7-time champion Richard Petty signed the helmet for charity)

The NASCAR helmet went for $1,000! That's pretty cool. Nobody guessed who the drivers were that signed it. There were 29 including: Tony Stewart (#20), Dale Jarrett (#88), Ryan Newman (#12), Denny Hamlin (#11), Mark Martin (#6), David Gilliland (#38) and my two favorites...Jeff Gordon (#24) and The King, Richard Petty (#43).

Seeing Richard Petty was the only time I can say I was star struck. Seriously, he's The King. 7-time series champion. Wow.

Richard Petty in the garage area at the New Hampshire International Speedway

September, 2006

Tony Stewart, David Gilliland and their crews also donated to the auction. A couple of panels off each of their Richmond cars. They went for a pretty penny at the auction, too!

One of the two panels the 20 team donated and both the panels from the 38 team.

The group of people I met at Loudon were all fantastic. The NASCAR drivers are accessible and agreeable to signature requests even when they don't need to be. It was a fantastic experience. My thanks, again, to Brent on the 38 team! I couldn't have done all that I did that day without his help. It's much appreciated.

Just another racing tidbit for today. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

NASCAR experience

As I mentioned, I was in Loudon this past weekend for the NASCAR race at New Hampshire International Speedway. The race was good, but Friday was even better.

Dave Perewitz and his family are hosting the 14th annual Fall Foliage Run this weekend. It's an invitation only weekend on Cape Cod with a cookout, fishing trip, poker run, poker chip stroll and a seafood banquet. Both the cookout and the banquet have auctions - a silent one at the cookout on Friday night and the live auction on Saturday night with Dave as the auctioneer.

The charity auction portion of the weekend started eight years ago with a docation of $2,200. That number has swelled in recent years with over $177,000 being divided and donated to the Floating Hospital Children's Cancer Center (Boston, MA), Louisiana native Charlie "Doc" Leggio (after Hurricane Katrina) and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. This is truly a family who has had some good fortune and gives back as much as they possibly can.

There are some fabulous items up for auction this year. How do I know? No, I don't have a complete list but some of the items are sitting here in my home office. Things I picked up in Loudon on Friday...see, I was getting back to that!

Each year Dave asks some of his friends in the NASCAR community if they will donate items to his charity auction. Each year they say 'yes' and bring the items up to Loudon where Dave picks them up. However, this year Perewitz Cycle Fabrication had not one, but two shows to attend on the same weekend as Loudon. Dave asked if I would mind going up on Friday to pick up a few things and take a plain white helmet up and have the drivers sign it for the auction. Let me think.... a free pass into the NASCAR pits to see all the teams and drivers? I would have left the day he asked me (2 weeks in advance!) and camped out if I had to!

So, up to Loudon I went on Friday morning with a plain helmet and a big expectation - I wanted to get at least 35 drivers' signatures on the helmet. That was my goal.

Robert Yates' 38 team were my hosts for the day. Brent, Mike and the rest of the guys were so hospitable and very helpful with my quest for a fully signed helmet. I very much appreciated their time and help. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't have caught a couple of the guys that I didn't recognize while they were in street clothes and not their racing suits.

I spent the whole day in the pits and had a great time even though I didn't reach my goal with the signatures. This was not due to any driver saying 'no', they were all unfailingly nice and more than willing to sign the helmet - it was due to the lack of catching them all before they got in their car or made it back to their hauler. It's easier said than done. I only came away with 29, but I'm hoping the helmet will still go for a good price. It did last year.

Here are some photos of the helmet. See if you can pick out your favorite driver. Let me know who you think you see there and I'll let you know if you guessed correctly. I'll post a list in a day or so. Some are easy for race fans since they put their car number next to their name.

Much more from the pits soon including: the only person I was truly star struck by, the other items I brought home, and other observations. This may have been a task for a worthy cause, but it was a blast for me. Now I wonder how I get this same 'job' next year.....

Just a racing tidbit for today. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Marketing of NASCAR Star Ryan Newman

I was lucky enough to be at the New Hampshire International Speedway twice this weekend for all of the NASCAR festivities. This was the first weekend of "The Chase". It's always a good time at NHIS but this time I saw the weekend from a little different perspective as I spent Friday in the pits. I was working on a project for a charity auction this weekend, but more on that later.

During practice and qualifying, if you don't have a 'hot' pass you need to leave the fenced in garage area until they are done. This is a safety issue as many people who get the passes sometimes aren't as aware in the pits as those of us who have been around racing our whole lives. They may not understand that when the official blows his whistle that a car is coming off the track and MOVE out of the way. But, I digress...

During qualifying I noticed a little boy - maybe 7 years old-, his sister (14-15ish) and dad just outside the fence waiting for the ok to get back into the pits after the session. They were strategically located as there were two exits from the pits but this one had Ryan Newman's hauler right on the other side of the fence. This boy was a Ryan fan threw and threw. He had on the #12 hat, a Ryan shirt and was carrying a replica Alltel Dodge.

Everytime someone with Ryan's team gear on would come out of the hauler the little boy would run over to the fence and politely ask if Ryan was still inside. Clearly, he was just biding his time until he could get back into the pits and simply wait it out. Ryan had to come out sometime, right? The only issue with the location of the truck was that you could see the back door from where the boy was but not the side door, so he had to ask everyone if Ryan was still in there. After awhile the dad went to the other exit just in case Ryan came out that way so he would, at least, have Ryan's autograph for his son. Good dad.

I saw the little boy ask 3 people if Ryan was still in the hauler before a group of 4 came out - two men and two women. They came out of the gate and the little boy asked one of the women if Ryan was still in the hauler. I didn't hear what she said, but the four of them got into a golf cart - the preferred mode of transportation for drivers and such getting from the garage area to their motor coaches. The quartet started the golf cart, drove a few feet to the little boy and stopped. One of the guys got out, took his hand and then his sister's hand and walked them through the gate and right into Ryan's hauler!

I went up to the golf cart and told the three people waiting that I thought it was a nice thing for them to do. The man said, "He's the future of this sport". Meaning that the little boy is the current and next generation of NASCAR fans. It's important to NASCAR and the teams that he stays a fan for a long time to insure that their brand stays alive and well. I sincerely doubt that this boy is ever going to be anything but a Ryan Newman fan, let alone step away from NASCAR. Are you kidding? After that?

One of the women said to me that she'd noticed the little boy at 11am, which was FIVE hours earlier, staking out the same spot. She wanted him to learn that sometimes persistence does pay off. Good lesson. One I'm sure he won't soon forget.

This wasn't any quick visit; this was a full-on, private meet and greet with the little boy's favorite driver. It doesn't get any better than that for a 7 year old. Or his sister, for that matter. About 15 minutes later they came out with the car signed and a story to tell for years. The little boy was speechless. The sister came out telling everyone around how nice Ryan is, how nice his family is and how good they are for the sport because they are so nice to the fans. Oh yea, if she wasn't a Ryan Newman fan before she is now. She got on the cell phone right away and started to tell everyone she knows about their visit with Ryan.

That is how you make fans. It's the little things that mean the most to people. It's that way with any brand. It might be something small to you - a coupon, a free product here and there, 15 minutes of your time - but to the person on the receiving end it could mean the difference between being disappointed in your brand and becoming a consumer evangelist. This little boy will be a Ryan Newman fan for life and he will probably try his best to convince all of his friends to be Ryan fans, too.

Nicely done, Alltel/Mobile team. Nicely done.

Just a little racing tidbit for today. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sunday, September 10, 2006

2006 NASCAR Champ will be..... of these ten drivers who were locked into the chase for the championship last night.

1. Matt Kenseth (2003 champion)
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Kyle Busch
5. Denny Hamlin
6. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
7. Mark Martin
8. Jeff Burton
9. Jeff Gordon (4-time champion!)
10. Kasey Kahne

NASCAR changed their scoring a few years ago to include a 'play off' type of scenario at the end of the year. "The Race to the Chase" is during the first part of the year where drivers need to be in the top 10 in points to have a shot at the championship. They needed to lock that into place by last night's race at Richmond. These ten drivers did just that - some just squeaking in. However, now that they are 'in' the chase for the championship the playing field evens out. Each of these positions is only 5 points from the guy in front of them. So Kasey is only 45 points away from Matt going into next weekend's race in Loudon.

Good luck to all the drivers and may the most consistent driver win. I have my sentimental favorite that I'd like to see win the championship and then my overall favorite driver that, of course, I'd like to see win. We'll know in a couple of months.

Just a racing tidbit for today. Thanks for stopping by.

Cingular's Play On Words

There is a segment on a local television news station here in Boston called "Buyer Beware". The consumer reporter, Susan Wornick, has been doing these segments about companies that maybe aren't playing exactly on the up and up or are wording things confusingly to consumers. Well, this post is my version of that long-running segment.

Cingular Wireless isn't exactly representing itself well on its bills. In the summary of charges on the bill there are 4 lines (on my bill anyway): XX Rollover Minutes XX N&W Unlimited Expd M2M Daytime

So, the way I read this is that the first line is the amount of minutes that rolled over from the month before. You know about their roll-over plans because they tout them on television all the time - whatever you don't use in one month rolls over to the next month so you can use those minutes.

The second line is the minutes for nights and weekends. The third is the text messaging and multi-media plan. The fourth is the amount of daytime minutes in your plan this month.

Right? Wrong. When I got my bill this month it was slightly higher than it should be so I called Cingular. Apparently, the first line is the line of minutes in your plan for daytime use. Period. Not actual rolled over minutes from the month before. The 'Daytime' on the bottom is the amount you went over. I found this to be a little bit of false wording and told the customer service person that. He told me it was all explained on their website. Hmmm....that just doesn't fly with me. Granted, we (if you are reading this, I mean you) are all connected on the internet. But, there are millions of people who aren't - that's just a fact. So, all of those people don't get this explained to them? Ok, maybe in the fine print when they get their first plan - maybe.

Buyer Beware - read your bill every month and understand what each line means before going too far into a service contract or renewing one. It might not always be as it seems. Shame on me - I should have understood this false wording much sooner to keep my bill lower. Shame on Cingular for the misleading wording!

Also, another tidbit I found out - the higher the rate plan you have per month the less the overage minute billed rate is - another way that the 'haves' get more in life than the 'have nots'. Ridiculous!

Just a little grumbly tidbit for today. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

M&Ms Scream for Dark Chocolate

If you haven't tried the new M&Ms dark chocolates they are a must. Very yummy. And the packaging is a 'stand out' purple with bright colors all over the wrapper. Nicely done.

So nicely done that I went to their website the other day while eating a package. I found that they launched a promotion (The Unveiling) at the end of August where they offered 2 million M&Ms dark chocolate candies for the return of Edvard Munch's "The Scream" painting which was stolen on August 22, 2004.

Interestingly, the painting was recovered less than two weeks after the promotion started. I wondered what the company would do now. Turns out, they are pretty wise (someone who makes this type of product can only be smart, right???) and announced that they will honor their promotion.

"We chose to feature The Scream in the campaign because it is one of the world's most recognizable dark paintings," said Anibal Martini, M&M'S® Brand Marketing Director. "We're obviously delighted that the painting has been recovered and we're absolutely going to honor our offer of the reward."

Details are still being worked out, but it looks like a police station might be getting 40,000 bags of the dark treats. Yum!

However, I have to wonder if the company is slightly disappointed that, after two years, the painting was recovered so quickly after their promotional announcement. After all, it was just the start of the promotion and I wonder what additions there would have been to it as time went on. Ad campaigns? Upping the stakes (adding in more candies) etc. I'm sure it will all work out for the best - after all, there are some folks in Oslo, Norway that are going to be getting a lot of great candy for their efforts. Maybe they will share with the children in the area. That would be nice for everyone involved.

Just a sweet tidbit for today. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, September 01, 2006


Where did you go?

Falmouth Harbor - August, 2006

For those of you in the U.S. have a safe, relaxing Labor Day Weekend.