IMG_2501.jpg

Fast Friends

NHKA Racing Series

First a little background… You probably have no idea that go-kart racing is actually a thing. And now that you do, you’re probably picturing bumper cars. In reality these are 130 MPH beasts set loose on real tracks. It’s bonkers. Curious? Ride along with me as I draft to the front during the last lap of a race at Daytona.

 

The NHKA Racing Series is a local karting club that I help run. I’m responsible for all the marketing. And when I say all, I do mean all: writing, design and maintenance of the website; PR and social media activities; photography and videography as well as tapping talent within the membership; design and production of all printed materials: brochures, fliers, postcards, ads, forms, banners, trophies, and apparel; assisting the race director in the development and writing of rules; conceptualization of the brand and consistent expression of its elements: logo, typography, palette, voice and photo-illustrations.

I use the club as my marketing laboratory. I test theories, experiment with channels and approaches, acquire new skills and explore emerging technologies while keeping up my design chops. At times I participate in strategic business planning, like the transformation of our relationship with our nearest competitor. With the philosophy “a rising tide lifts all ships”, we pivoted the dynamic from combative to collaborative, we synched rules and offset schedules allowing competitors to easily race when and where they wanted. This  increased attendance by 20% – 25%, transforming our arch rival into a source of new customers.

When I started sticking my nose into things nine years ago, the NHKA was on the brink of collapse with events that cost more than $10k to put on but drawing only 27 participants. Thanks the commitment of the the owners and the hard work of a solid core of volunteers, today we are one of the fastest growing clubs in the country. Our events now cost a fraction of what they did and regularly draw nearly 300 people, including 100 entries. Our fields are often larger than those of prestigious national-level events.

KartMania2BigPack copy (1).jpg

Naturally, this is a very satisfying business result, one made all the more pleasing because we achieved it by focusing on providing an great experience rather than the bottom line. However, what makes me most proud is the fantastic community we built. Men, women, boys and girls of all ages and nationalities from all walks of life with a shared passion. My faith in humanity is restored at nearly every event by some act of sportsmanship, friendship or genuine caring.

A girl, who just finished on the podium for the first time, soaking in a lifetime of confidence from her normally reserved Dad who is hugging her and positively beaming with joy and pride.

A mom struggling to change her son’s tires, sweating and frustrated and determined.

A guy in his early 40s, his kids almost grown and house almost paid off. He wants to find out if there’s been a winning racecar driver buried inside. Either way, he’s having the time of his life and making new friends for the first time in years.

A son working with his dad on their kart and exchanging ideas. He’s 13 years old.Like many of the kids, he has better collaboration skills than most adults I've met.

At our last banquet, a few members organized a raffle for a fellow racer who had recently been diagnosed with cancer. They raised more than $6,000 in just a few hours.

I can't take credit for all the great things our members do. However,  atmospheres that so often bring out the best in people don't happen often, and certainly don’t  happen on their own.