Looking to have your name on the hood of a NASCAR racecar? It could happen sooner than you think, thanks to an exciting new program called Fan1st. Ed Collins, Founder of Fan1st, recently spoke with Frontstretch Senior Writer Becca Gladden about this innovative new concept and what it could offer NASCAR fans not only this year, but in the future.
Becca Gladden: Fan1st presents a unique new opportunity for NASCAR fans. Will you explain the basic idea?
Ed Collins: Fan1st allows ordinary fans the opportunity to become the primary sponsor of a NASCAR team by placing the fans names on the hood of the vehicle. Typically, corporate sponsors control the car by paying millions of dollars for sponsorship to place their logo on the car, but in the end the fans pay for this sponsorship by purchasing the products of the sponsor. We have cut out the middle man (corporate sponsor) and are giving the fans an opportunity of a lifetime to become that sponsor. Fan1st allows the fans to take advantage of their sponsorship by voting on how the car looks on the track, by selecting color schemes and logo placement, and by inviting them to team parties and events.
Gladden: Fan1st members will get their names on the hood of a racecar. How exactly will that happen? Will there be a limit to the number of names that can appear?
Collins: We are placing a clear overlay on the hood for the fans who become sponsors through Fan1st. The clear overlay has the fans names printed on it and allows us to update fans’ names each week as new members come on board. It appears that we can get 100,000 names on the hood, and those names will still be legible to anyone who approaches the car. As more and more fans come on board, we will start expanding to other vehicles in various series, both Busch and Cup.
Gladden: I understand that in the near future, any Fan1st member will be able to log on to the website, type in his or her name, and pinpoint its exact location on the hood of the car.
Collins: We have just added that feature to the website this week, and it is really cool to see your name appear as an official sponsor on the car. In addition to the new feature, each member also receives an official sponsor card that identifies them for the team parties and events. All the names on the hood will be the same size, but if companies choose to purchase a sponsorship, they are entitled to use the phrase “Official Sponsor, No. 32 [or No. 38] NASCAR Team.” This is a benefit afforded to all who sign up.
Gladden: In 2007, Fan1st will sponsor the No. 32 Braun Racing Toyota in the Busch Series with Dave Blaney as the primary driver. What are your expectations of Braun Racing, Toyota and Blaney in your first year of this joint venture?
Collins: This seems to be a combination that works well. Dave is the veteran driver in the series, and his experience is a great fit for the team. In addition to him running Toyota in the Busch Series full time, he is also running Toyota in the Cup series full time, (so) the experience and knowledge he gets by running the Toyota twice per week will be a tremendous advantage. The engine in the Busch car is the same that has been running in the Truck Series, and Toyota Racing Division (TRD) has that program dialed in. Braun and his crew are very solid, and recently partnered with Dave to hand him his first win at Lowe’s Motor Speedway last season. The partnership works well for all of us and I will go out on a limb to say you will see us in victory lane many times next year, and we have a legitimate shot at a championship. It would be nice to take that trophy with the fans as the sponsor.
Gladden: Will the Fan1st No. 38 car driven by Jason Leffler also run the Busch Series full-time?
Collins: Yes, it will, and the primary sponsor of that car will be Great Clips. But Todd Braun believes, as I do, that the fans should come first, so he has offered up the names of all that sign up to go on Jason’s car also. It’s kind of a two-for-one (deal), with the fans taking the benefit.
Gladden: Fan1st members will be entitled to vote on non-competition-related decisions involving the race teams. Will you give some examples of what those issues might be and how the voting will take place?
Collins: All voting will take place on our website, with current polls allowing fans to choose the color and design scheme of the car and to vote for recipients of our grassroots sponsorship awards. We are offering $10,000 per month for 10 months to support race teams at any level. In season two, we hope to involve the fans further, allowing more and more decisions to be made by the fans. We wanted that this year, but we had to build the team and the car and did not have time to wait for the votes. A new poll will be out this month asking the fans where they want the team parties and events to be held. This is something we wanted the fans to choose because they are all over the country.
Gladden: I understand that you are currently offering free Fan1st memberships to military personnel. Will you elaborate on that?
Collins: We are a service-disabled, veteran-owned company, and we wanted to give back to the men and women that are putting themselves in harm’s way to secure the freedoms we enjoy. This is not a political statement on the war – there are enough people doing that already. This is simply a thank you. It appears that we will be giving away $1.5 million worth of free memberships to military personnel; it is (currently) being coordinated with members of the armed services.
Gladden: Racing teams often have a primary sponsor, along with a number of associate sponsors. Do you have any associate sponsors signed up for the Fan1st rides?
Collins: It is our goal to grow Fan1st to take over full sponsorship of the team, but realized that it was probably not obtainable in season one. We have partnered with Braun Racing and will have Hass Avocados, ABF, FOE and maybe one more partner a sponsor during next season.
Gladden: Are there other benefits to Fan1st membership besides those we’ve already mentioned?
Collins: I have referred to this as “The Revolution.” I call it this because it is the start of something that can expand to every car on the track, and all that sign up will be on the ground floor of changing the face of motorsports one name at a time.
Gladden: Do you foresee Fan1st expanding to Cup racing in the future?
Collins: Yes, and maybe sooner than you may think – but I will keep that as a surprise for the next article.