Michael Waltrip, co-owner of Michael Waltrip
Racing (MWR) and two-time Daytona 500 winner, has his finger, or shall
we say, thumbs, squarely on the pulse of social media. David Reutimann,
driver of MWR’s number 00 Toyota Camry in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series,
self-admittedly does not. While Waltrip tweets away to nearly 38,000
followers on Twitter, Reutimann self-effacingly told the assembled
media before the Subway Fresh Fit 600 on April 10 at Phoenix
International Raceway, that he had a Twitter account but never really
got the grasp of it.
Western sponsored the number 00 car from Michael Waltrip Racing during
the Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway.
But that didn’t stop Reutimann from being able to communicate to a
plethora of NASCAR fans on race day. That’s because in the days and
hours leading up to Subway Fresh Fit 600, Reutimann was armed with his
own personal “Tweet Crew Team.” The Tweet Crew was the brainchild of
marketing executives at Best Western International, a sponsor of the
Reutiman's number 00 car. Best Western and MWR teamed up to put
together the crew of three diehard NASCAR fans who followed Reutimann
before and during the race and tweeted the happenings surrounding the
The Tweet Crew Team was unveiled along with Best Western’s first foray
into NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series as a primary sponsor. The hotel company
had previously been a partner with MWR, sponsoring Reutimann’s car in
the Nationwide Series, but this year took its sponsorship to a new
level in NASCAR’s premier series. According to Dorothy Dowling, senior
vice president of marketing at Best Western, Waltrip asked the company
to move up to the Sprint Cup Series because Reutimann wouldn’t be
racing this year in the Nationwide Series. Dowling says the company was
only too happy to oblige and to continue its relationship with MWR and
To that end, Reutimann’s number 00 Camry was deck out in full Best
Western paint for the race in Phoenix, which was shown live on Fox.
Dowling says the company was the primary sponsor for car in the Subway
Fresh Fit 600, and will also be a sponsor on the number 00 car for
every race this year. For the remaining races, Best Western will appear
as an associate sponsor, meaning Best Western will be featured on
various parts of the car as well as on the fire suits of the pit crew.
Dowling says that the race in Phoenix was an important day for the
hotel company. “This is a significant day for Best Western. We’ve been
a been a loyal partner of Michael Waltrip Racing, and we’re excited to
be a primary sponsor for today’s race,” she said during a race day
press conference in the raceway’s media center.”
Added Waltrip, “Even though the economy’s been challenging, Best Western continues to be a great partner for us.”
Best Western and MWR don’t confine their partnership to just the track.
Waltrip said that Twitter also offers an opportunity to continue the
partnership even when it’s not race day. “When Best Western’s having a
special, I can tweet that out to my followers,” he said.
With the Tweet Crew on hand, the two companies gave NASCAR fans inside
access to the inner workings of racing team. “The unique part is that
these are fans,” Waltrip said of the three members of the tweet crew.
“These are people who normally don’t have this kind of access.”
The three members of the Tweet Crew Team were
selected through an application process. They are Randall Martin, a
father and longtime racing fan from Worcester, Mass., Rebecca Kivak, a
copy editor and avid NASCAR Tweeter from Plains, Pa., and Nancy Mills,
an actress and contractor from Cordova, Tenn. Following a day of
learning high-performance driving skills at the Bondurant Racing School
on Friday, the trio met up with Reutimann at the racetrack. From there,
they followed the driver and tweeted a play-by-play of his preparation,
including from the garage and even the pre-race drivers’ meeting on
Saturday afternoon, the day of the race.
David Reutimann poses with his Tweet Crew Team before the start of the
Subway Fresh Fit 600. The Tweet Crew Team includes (L-R): Randall
Martin, Nancy Mills, and Rebecca Kivak.
“The group we have here is doing a phenomenal job. It’s cutting edge,”
Reutimann said of the tweeters and the promotion on Saturday afternoon.
“We love what these guys are doing.”
For the Tweet Crew Team, the weekend was a chance to get into the
center of the action of the sport they love. Decked out in Best Western
racing gear, the Tweet Crew Team members found themselves answering
questions in the media center from the assembled racing press. “Up
until now, I’d only been to Pocono Raceway, which is an hour from where
I live,” Kivak said during the press conference. Added Mills,
“I’ve been greatly impressed with how organized [the race preparation]
And if there was any concern that the tweeters would forget why they
were there, those concerns were put to rest by Martin, who continued
tweeting during the press conference so as to not miss a any of the
Assembled in the pits right before start of the race, the Tweet Crew
Team gathered for final instructions before taking their three
positions around the track. One was stationed in the pit while the
other two took their places on the turns. Throughout the race, the
three alternated positions and reported every twist and turn Reutimann
made on the track.
For Reutimann and the MWR team it was off to Texas Motor Speedway for
this weekend’s Samsung Mobile 500. For Best Western, it will continue
on as an associate sponsor of the number 00 car for the remainder of
the year. For the members of the Tweet Crew Team, the weekend will
remain a fond memory that wouldn’t have happened without the help of
the racing team and its sponsor.
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