Craig Stacey, Director of Content Marketing and Marketing Communications at Thrivent Financial, the primary sponsor on the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing entry at Bristol Motor Speedway, shares his perspective of the Irwin Tools Night Race weekend.
Coming back to the Bristol Motor Speedway to celebrate our one-year anniversary in NASCAR with Leavine Family Racing and Michael McDowell was significant for our 2.4 million members and all of our employees. Like the race team did several years ago, last August, we started small in the sport with a plan to learn bit-by-bit and take the right steps with our sponsorship so we could demonstrate to racing fans how being a sponsor and being up close and conversational with fan experiences are not mutually exclusive. All along, we wanted to be a sponsor working side-by-side with LFR and McDowell to create a community atmosphere with our fans while also providing them with an insider perspective filled with fun surprises and ways to work together in giving back to the community.
What has been great during this past year is the support and enthusiasm around our sponsorship with people rooting for LFR and McDowell both on and off the track. This has definitely inspired us as a sponsor to do more to interact and be involved with the fans. Trying things as a sponsor and watching this engagement grow has been the highlight of the year for Thrivent Financial and the Thrivent Racing team.
Here are just a few things we have done with fan input and involvement:
- In the past year, we went from doing some intermittent social media posts on our corporate sites to creating our own team-focused Thrivent Racing sites with ongoing content and surprises. In just a few months, we already have over 26,000 likes on Facebook, over 2,600 Twitter followers, and just this weekend passed 1,000 Instagram followers.
- We have reached out to our fans and asked them submit inspirational messages for McD and the team, and select one each race to be placed on the dashboard of the No. 95 to be alongside him for the ride. We’ve received hundreds of messages of inspiration, each one read personally by Michael who selects the winning entry.
- We’ve had tens of thousands of race fans play our #DriventoThrive to 95! game on our Thrivent Racing website where they hopefully had fun, won something for themselves, watched some exclusive team and driver videos, but most importantly, helped others with each game play by generating a donation we are making to Habitat for Humanity.
- Also during race weeks, we’ve worked side-by-side with the race team, our members and community volunteers from local churches in both Charlotte and Indianapolis to help repair homes as part of our Thrivent Builds program.
This week at Bristol, the inspirational message in McDowell’s No. 95 Ford Fusion from Michael C. read, “Own the Moment!” It was a great reminder how passionate our fans are about LFR and McDowell, and something we need to remember so we can finish the season strong both on and off the track with everything we do.
Finally, for everyone who has welcomed us to the sport and helped make our first year a success, whether it be the countless fans, NASCAR, other sponsors and drivers, members of the media, track personnel, hotel staff, local law enforcement, local churches, and people just wanting to say, “Hi, welcome, and how can we help,” we say THANK YOU!
- Craig Stacey, Thrivent Financial
P.S. I’m a photographer hobbyist and wanted to share with you a few photos from this weekend’s race. Thanks again for your support!