CORNELIUS, N.C. – Mark Martin, like most NASCAR drivers, follows a race day routine that’s a large part of the sport’s success but not often seen on television.
His schedule includes several hospitality visits outside the walls of the track hours before the green flag drops.
Martin travels to Aaron’s and Toyota corporate displays or hospitality suites for 15-minute visits and often spends time at meet-and-greets for customers of Michael Waltrip Racing’s sponsors.
"That’s part of why we do this," Martin said. "It’s the sponsors way to activate their involvement in the sport and as a driver it’s our way to get out and meet the fans."
No two hospitalities are alike. At the Aaron’s display a DJ announces Martin’s presence in a pep-rally atmosphere. Amid the bass beat of Gucci Mane rap songs, Martin takes the stage to answer questions over the crowd’s cheers.
"That’s like coffee," said Martin. "It gets you going. It’s a whole lot of energy."
Toyota hospitalities are just as creative. Sometimes he’ll attend a gathering of Toyota car owners or he’ll banter with race fans at the auto manufacturer’s corporate display.
At Charlotte Motor Speedway, Martin and three of his crewman took on fellow Toyota driver Bobby Labonte’s team in a puzzle contest.
"We won," laughed Martin. "We were three hours from the start of the race and we’re already competing."
Fans spent the rest of the day at Toyota attempting to beat the times set by Martin’s crew.
It’s all about customer engagement said Rich Lamprey, Aaron’s sports marketing manager.
"Aaron’s races for its customers. We enjoy bringing our sports celebrities to our customers where they can interact on a more personal level," Lamprey said.
"You can feel how the crowd lights up when Mark Martin and Michael Waltrip show up at our corporate display and sense how special it is to be close to their heroes. It’s that interaction that helps make fans appreciate Aaron’s participation in the sport."
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