150,000 people stop and wait for pothole repair

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A hole opens up and brings everything to a stop

February 14, 2010 was the day that almost 150,000 people stopped and waited somewhat patiently for a pothole repair to take place.  Surprisingly, no one was beeping their horn, and picking fights at the intersection.    They were far more interested in sitting in the sun, drinking adult beverages and checking out the race cars parked along pit row, and their drivers.

The infamous pothole was the one  that formed in the track during the running of the 52nd Dayton 500, producing a nearly two hour delay in what proved to be an exciting and sold-out race.

A guest of Orlando Jobs

I was invited to the race to attend an event called “HR Meets NASCAR” by my friend and colleague Roger Lear of Orlando Jobs, which sponsored the event for their customers.   This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend the race, network with human resources professionals, and help the event get some social media exposure.   We also got excellent seats, and a nicely catered lunch, along with cold beer from the coolers in the back of the Orlando Jobs Hummer.

Employee Events

If you are looking for a different kind of employee event, this is definitely the kind of event you should be thinking about.  The Pit Road Patio offers a wonderful view of the track, an intimate track-side setting, and the chance to see many of the inner workings of NASCAR and the Daytona International Speedway.  The food is good, the beer is cold, and the racing action is hot.   There were a number of companies throwing big parties alongside us, including Red Bull, Caterpillar, and Mars (M&M’s).  This type of event is ideally suited for team building efforts, sales incentive campaigns, and other small group incentives.

There are other opportunities for employee events at the track including the Daytona 500 Experience,  smaller races like the Budweiser Shootout and Gatorade Duel, or Race Rewards.    Race Rewards is a free discount program that allows employers to offer discounts of more than 50% to their employees who might want to attend a NASCAR event.   Given the high energy and devotion I saw at Daytona on Sunday, it looks like a program that could be very well received in many companies!

If you want to bring your employees to an event that everyone  attends, the Daytona 500 is the place to do it.  I saw all walks of life, from camouflage wearing race fans, to NFL coaching great Jimmy Johnson and Sarah Palin.

Finding the HR in NASCAR

Event though HR meets NASCAR was primarily an sales event for Orlando Jobs, and a social media experiment for me, I always like to find the HR elements present in such events.   Here is what I saw in Daytona.

  1. Passion –  Every driver has a contingent of loyal followers who follow their every move on the track.  If employers could bottle this level of passion, your company would be unbeatable.
  2. Branding — is everywhere, from the many sponsor labels squeezed on every inch of the cars and driver, to the Budweiser logo-ed recycling bins for the aluminum beer cans that can be found all over the grounds of the park.  Even the roof of the Hilton Garden Inn became a branding opportunity for General Motors, who places jumbo logo signs on the roof.
  3. Competition — The race is the ultimate competition, but don’t forget the pit crews, the places trying to sell you food, and even the people scalping tickets or selling overpriced parking spots outside.  Everyone one the ground is hustling, and the energy is infectious rather than annoying.
  4. Teamwork –  The scale of this event is enormous.  Groups of people both large and small work long and hard to pull it off, mostly seamlessly.  Every company should aspire to this level of success.

All in all, a pretty cool way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon in Florida!

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