Last week, driver of the no. 17 Sunny D Ford for Roush-Fenway Racing, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, went to the local go-kart facility in Mooresville, North Carolina for a very special event. Sponsor Sunny D held a contest online that included the chance to fly out to Charlotte for the big playoff race, as well as the chance to physically race with Stenhouse in professional grade go-karts. The contest, titled "Race with Ricky" was a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the relationship between drivers and fans. Thousands entered, and one lucky woman got the chance to bring friends with her to the track to race against Stenhouse. The event was all about the fans, with racing scheduled for two to three hours at The Pit in Mooresville. I also had the opportunity to throw the helmet on and hit the track against the 2017 playoff contender. The experience was unmatched and was absolutely incredible. The fan winner was very excited for the opportunity to race against one of her favorite cup series drivers. After the event concluded, the fan winner and her guests were all presented with certificates and trophies, as well as a fresh bottle of Sunny D.
The relationship between the fans and drivers are so important in this day and age. Through the use of social media and physical conversations and interactions at the track, fans get unprecedented access into the lives of their favorite drivers. The smile that the fan winner had throughout the whole night, as well as everyone in attendance, shows how special these events are to the fans, as well as the drivers. It will continue to be absolutely crucial to the integrity of the sport for the drivers and teams to maintain a strong relationship with their fans. Keeping the fans involved like Stenhouse Jr and his team were able to do in this circumstance will keep the state of NASCAR strong.