Ford Puts Customers In NASCAR Driver’s Seat As Part Of Major Truck Ad Push

Ford’s major fall truck ad blitz includes the second-annual Ford Truck “Race to the Dream” NASCAR promotion.

  • Ford F-Series marketing blitz leverages new NFL season, growing Toby Keith relationship and beginning of NASCAR’s “Chase for the Nextel Cup” as 30th anniversary of truck leadership approaches.
  • Ford launches second year of “Race to the Dream” Ford Truck promotion at www.racetothedream.com; 60,000 fans entered last year’s contest.
  • Nine winners to face each other on track and in trucks for VIP trip to NASCAR’s season finale – Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
  • The “Fan Driving Champion’s” VIP treatment will include meeting Nextel Cup drivers, waving the green flag at the Ford 300 Busch race and being interviewed on national TV.
  • Ford’s NASCAR investment pays off with large numbers of loyal truck customers.

DEARBORN, Mich, Sept. 14, 2006 – Ford’s massive fall marketing blitz for the Ford F-Series truck line will include the “Race to the Dream” – a chance for nine NASCAR fans to compete on a track in race-prepped Ford trucks for a chance to win a VIP trip to the Ford Championship Weekend – the NASCAR season finale for the Craftsman Truck, Busch and Nextel Cup series, which kicks off Nov. 14 at Homestead Miami Speedway.

The “Race to the Dream” is a major component of Ford’s comprehensive plan to reach truck customers through NFL football, racing and country music – the most popular truck customer activities when they’re not working with their F-Series.

“Last year’s “˜Race to the Dream’ was a strong success so Ford Trucks is excited to bring back this unique opportunity for our truck consumers and race fans” says Todd Eckert, Ford Truck marketing manager. “Our buyers are passionate about trucks and NASCAR racing – the “˜Race to the Dream’ competition brings both together to give fans a chance to prove who is Built Ford Tough.

“With F-Series being the best selling truck in America for 29 years running and Ford’s position as the host to NASCAR’s final week of competition in the ‘Chase for the NEXTEL Cup’, Ford Trucks is able to provide a true once-in-a-lifetime experience through the promotion.”

Ford’s major fall truck advertising campaign will be highly visible as these national entertainment powerhouses shift into high gear. This weekend in New Hampshire, the top 10 NASCAR Nextel Cup drivers begin the new “Chase for the Nextel Cup” 10-race playoff that will culminate at the Nov. 14-19 Ford Championship Weekend in Homestead.

Meanwhile, the new NFL football season kicks off its second weekend of action and Toby Keith begins a west-coast swing for his new “Hookin’ Up and Hangin’ Out” concert tour. Ford Truck also expands its relationship with Keith to his big-screen debut in Paramount Classic Films, Broken Bridges, co-starring Kelly Preston, Burt Reynolds and Willie Nelson.

Racing and Dreaming

Ford’s long-time involvement in NASCAR continues to grow, including the launch of the second year of the Built Ford Tough “Race to the Dream Ultimate Fan Experience” promotion. The promotion breaks the typical luck-of-the-draw sweepstakes mold by challenging finalists to race each other against the clock at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Race fans can enter the contest at www.racetothedream.com and can earn additional entries by answering a variety of questions about Ford F-Series Trucks and Ford Racing. Nine lucky finalists will race each other in timed competitions in Ford Fusion NASCAR race cars on the track and Ford F-Series trucks in drag races and off-road challenges for the dream race-weekend grand prize at Ford Championship Weekend. The on-track racing will even include timed pit stops as part of the spirited competition.

The promotion’s successful launch last year drew more than 60,000 race fans who signed up to play the weekly game and win the “Ultimate Fan Experience.”

The Ford 400 NASCAR Nextel Cup finale likely will be the year’s most important race again because the new “Chase” 10-race playoff format places more emphasis on the final races than ever. Ford is in the third year of a 10-year sponsorship of Homestead-Miami Speedway and all three season-ending NASCAR races.

“Ford is leveraging truck customers’ passion for racing and NASCAR’s new “˜Chase’ playoffs that should once again determine the Nextel Cup champion at the Ford Championship Weekend Homestead finale,” says Dan Davis, director, Ford Racing Technology. “The Daytona 500 is the biggest race but Homestead probably is now the most important.”

Racing pays off for truck business

Ford’s new ad strategy is aimed squarely at pickup truck customers’ favorite pastimes – racing, country music and outdoors activities. In addition to placing F-Series advertising in heavy rotation during NFL football games and leveraging its Toby Keith relationship more than ever, Ford Trucks will be highly visible at NASCAR events and during racing television coverage.

“Race fans are very loyal truck buyers – the parking lots at NASCAR events are filled with F-Series pickups,” says Eckert. “Ford Trucks have been a part of NASCAR for decades and we will continue to build on that strong foundation with unique promotions such as “˜Race to the Dream.’”

Ford research demonstrates this loyalty among the growing NASCAR fan base of 75 million people worldwide. Two thirds of Ford Truck owners are racing fans with 60 percent of these owners specifically following NASCAR racing. In general, 72 percent of NASCAR fans are loyal to products they see associated with the race series and their favorite drivers.

The “Race to the Dream” promotion officially kicked off on August 26 and the first winner was randomly selected on Sept. 5. Thus far, two winners have been chosen:

  • Week 1: Rick Bauer from St. Charles, Mo.
  • Week 2: TBD

The remaining winners will be randomly chosen one at a time each week through Nov. 2. Ford Trucks will then host the nine winners at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 11-13 for the final F-Series truck and Fusion stock car racing competition.

The winner of these competitions with the best overall time will be crowned the “Ultimate Fan Champion” and earn the grand prize – an all-expenses-paid trip to the Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 14-20 for the Ford 200 Craftsman Truck, Ford 300 Busch Series, and Ford 400 NEXTEL Cup season finales. The winner will be treated to racing action all weekend, behind-the-scenes activities and more, including:

  • inside NASCAR VIP treatment and Homestead, Flor. for all three NASCAR season finales
  • becoming an honorary member of the #21 Wood Brothers Motorcraft crew for driver Ken Schrader
  • being appointed honorary starter for the NASCAR Busch Series race on Nov. 18
  • travel by helicopter to and from Homestead-Miami on Nov. 19, the Ford 400 race day
  • a live national television interview on NBC about their experience

Richard Fraser, last year’s winner of the first-ever “Race to the Dream” contest, remembers fondly a similar experience last year. The Sidney, ME resident is a limousine company owner and driver by profession, and race fan in his spare time. He has a few tips for this year’s contestants.

“The biggest thing I can tell them is to listen to instructors to learn what they’re doing wrong, says Fraser. “They tell you what to be afraid of and not to be afraid of. They’re the ones who will keep you from crashing. The big question is how much fright you can take. It’s the most un-natural experience to go into the corners and barely lift of the gas.”

Fraser also vouches for the grueling nature of the sport:

“It’s amazing how physically draining it is after 10 laps – I never imagined it could be like that. It’s exhausting and exhilarating. It gave me more respect for the drivers who do this for four-and-a-half hours. I could never do it. It left impression that these guys are much more than race drivers because they have to be so physically fit to drive the car on the track, not even with competition, even when you’re driving alone.”

Ford Fusion Drivers in Contention

The new 2006 Ford Fusion race car hit the track with the same hot pace it hit showrooms and looks to take a Ford driver to a third NASCAR Nextel Cup championship in four years. Matt Kenseth, driving the #17 Dewalt Power Tools Roush Facing Fusion, finished the regular NASCAR season in first place with four wins and 13 top-five finishes, leading the remaining 10 “Chase” finalists into the exciting championship run. Roush Racing teammate, Mark Martin, also qualified for the “Chase” is his #6 AAA Ford Fusion,

“Ford Racing plans to put more Fusions and F-150s in the winner’s circle during this very exciting time in NASCAR racing,” says Dan Davis. “Race fans connect with Ford Racing and these products because they are bold and all-American, reflecting our customers’ passion for racing and life.”

In the NASCAR Busch series, Carl Edwards is in second place in the standings with seven races remaining. In NASCAR Craftsman Truck series action, Rick Crawford and Terry Cook are battling for the championship in their F-150 race trucks.

The Fusion builds on Ford Motor Company’s NASCAR legacy of more than 580 wins. Red Byron won the very first NASCAR-sanctioned race on the sands of Daytona Beach in 1948.

Ford Trucks trace race history

Ford Trucks appeared on the road only shortly after the company’s first race cars more than a century ago. The F-Series lineup was introduced in 1948, a year before NASCAR racing began. The two are deeply connected given that they share similar rural American roots and have now both grown into true national icons.

As the most successful vehicle in the history of automobiles, the Ford F-Series is in a league of its own. It’s been the best-selling truck in America for 29 consecutive years and the best-selling vehicle for 23 years in a row. In 2006, it’s on track to retain truck leadership for a 30 th year. Since its debut in 1948, Ford Motor Company has sold more than 31 million F-Series trucks around the world. Ford sells one F-Series truck every 34 seconds in the U.S.

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