Comedian Flip Wilson used to grin and claim, 'The devil made me do it.' Dodge is smiling and pointing to its dealers. The dealer advertising council really wanted the division to get deeper into motorsports. Three truck racing series weren't enough, it insisted.
'Our return to NASCAR racing is based on a partnership with our 2,950 dealers around the country,' said Ted Gray, senior manager of the Dodge Dealer Advertising Association. 'In the last four to five years we have been pushed to enter the Winston Cup racing series by our dealers. There was a real groundswell.'
While Dodge Intrepid R/Ts won't arrive until early in 2001, Dodge and its dealers already are making plans to promote the brand. 'We are looking at race title sponsorships, official vehicle status, signage and other promotions,' Gray said. 'Because contracts were already in place for current sponsors, I doubt we'll get involved this year with promotions at NASCAR events.'
Dodge says motorsports enthusiasts demographics are 'absolutely right' for Dodge. Household incomes average $55,000 to $60,000, and the education level and male-female mix are appropriate.
'It is unique in the industry for dealers to be involved to the extent they are in our Dodge Intrepid Racing Program,' he said. Dealers already are figuring ways to involve their owner bases. Motorsports announcements have been broadcast live by satellite to dealerships. The UAW will be a sponsor, with its logo on racecars. And Dodge owners are pumped.
Add to that the Bill Davis and Petty Enterprises racing teams and the car-building experience of Evernham Motorsports, and for many fans 2001 won't get here nearly fast enough.