Ozzie Altman keeps a close eye on the on-track action. As part of his publicity service ro
Race cars and their trailers are rolling billboards for a reason. You're only fooling yourself if you think it doesn't take money to make a splash in racing.
You can do the best with what you have and maybe impress someone to help you, but it's an uphill climb. Your efforts only go as far as the bank account. Each week there are thousands of former racers in the grandstands or walking through the pits. The desire is there-the resources are gone.
Many top racers turn to others to get the resources and exposure to bring their racing to the next level. Ozzie Altman established Victory Lane Communications to help the racers with their media relations, promotions, and publicity campaigns. In turn, these activities will lead to sponsor interest, another area where the marketing arm of Victory Lane can be helpful.
Altman has been in the trenches with the racers and understands the dilemma faced by the sport. He has extensive media contact through work in television and from the sanctioning body side after publicity and promotion work with the Hav-A-Tampa Series and the American Speed Association. He remains active in the race commentating field and is a common sight in pit areas at major events.
Altman has seen racers change their perceptions, finding more who understand and accept the reality of the business side of it.
"These guys were wandering around looking for Moses to come lead them a few years ago," says Altman. "Six or seven years ago, no one had a concept of collateral materials. No one had a letter of introduction. They didn't have an organized portfolio or material, and they had nothing for the media. The sanctions were just as bad because they had no resources to promote their drivers."
Things are getting better. "It's been an educational process, and some of the major players have stepped up with their commitments and everyone is starting to see it," Altman continues. "The problems come in with the limitations of manpower and resources. People are doing more with less. You add in the popularity of the Internet, and now there's a need for information even quicker than before. Drivers still need to avail themselves for the opportunities of print or the Internet. It wasn't that long ago that a program at the racetrack for the fans wasn't commonplace."
Dirt Late Model Champion Rick Eckert goes on camera for some television time. Drivers are
As the short-track side of the sport cries out for a share of the attention devoted to the major circuits, Altman has seen this firsthand. When Bristol Motor Speedway put dirt on the track for a Late Model race, it drew national attention and national media.
"I went inside the media center at the track and saw all the bins that are usually filled by the PR reps when the big races come in," says Altman. "They were empty. I was helping Donnie Moran, Rick Aukland, Steve Francis, Rick Eckert, Wendell Wallace, Skip Arp, and Jimmy Mars, so I put 10 or 12 copies of their material in there. The media had no other material, so they went to these guys when they were looking for a story because they knew something about them."
The exposure can parlay to sponsorship in some cases if the right opportunity is present. While working with Steve Francis, Altman was able to put together enough information to make a reasonable pitch to Valvoline, which resulted in sponsorship support. It wasn't easy. It took a lot of work on the front end. It took cleaning up, dressing up, and selling himself to corporate executives when they offered the chance.
"Today, I have people who'll tell me 'Get us a sponsor and we'll pay you a good commission,' " Altman says. "I'm not going to do that. They have to be willing to invest their time and resources to the project. They have to do some of their own work before anyone can help them. They need a goal and a plan, and they need to be realistic."