Race Weekend Central

Voices From the Heartland: Turn Your Head & CotH?

Wow, who’d have thunk it? First we were given the “Car of Tomorrow,” but now we have the “Car of the Heartland?!”

For those wondering, the Car of the Heartland is the head-scratching brainchild of Furniture Row Racing and Farm Bureau. Furniture Row Racing, which ran full Cup schedules in ‘06, ‘07 and ’08 but only a limited schedule in ’09 with Regan Smith behind the wheel, recently announced that it will once again go full-time with its efforts in 2010. As of now, Smith is designated driver of the No. 78 for those races.

Now, we all know who or what Furniture Row Racing is, but just what is Farm Bureau? Well, according to their own PR, “Farm Bureau is a free, independent, non-governmental voluntary organization of farm and ranch families united for the purpose of analyzing their problems and formulating action to achieve education improvement, economic opportunity, social advancement and, thereby, to promote the national well being. Farm Bureau is local and international in its scope and influence and is nonpartisan, non-sectarian and non-secret in character.”

With the introductions out of the way, let me back up a bit. I called this new alliance, along with their new “Car of the Heartland,” which is also being billed as the “Car of the Farmer,” a “head-scratching brainchild” because I’m not quite sure what is going on here – and I don’t think they do, either.

While I do recognize the need for new sponsors in the sport and I do applaud Farm Bureau’s efforts, it would seem to me, a person who’s lived in the Midwest all my life, that they are not quite sure what they are getting into. Let’s look at the PR from both parties involved.

First, we have Farm Bureau: “We all know and understand that with each passing year the American public becomes further disconnected with farmers, ranchers and a basic knowledge of modern food production.

“A number of factors are responsible for this disconnect, not the least of which is our industry’s failure to communicate and engage with the non-farm public… at the recent gathering of Farm Bureau PR and Communications professionals in Denver, Furniture Row Racing unveiled a new NASCAR paint concept to support and bring awareness to the ag industry as a whole; The Car of the Heartland… Official Car of the American Farmer.”

So far, so good – most of that I can understand even if I don’t totally agree about the whole disconnected part. It’s this next bit, however, that leads me to wonder if they know what they are talking about. Their statements go on to say…

“The Car of the Heartland represents a revolutionary change in NASCAR, one not seen in 60 years of the sport. Traditionally, car designs have been a mishmash of logos and brands, confusing fans and diluting effectiveness. Furniture Row understands that what individual cars need is a focused message, one that fans can follow, and they are leading the way with their new Car of the Heartland.”

So, for the last 60 years, you and me have been confused by all the logos and whatnot on the cars? Oh gosh! I hadn’t realized I was confused! But wait, there is more. These are supposed statements for “Farm Bureau PR and Communications professionals!” If that is the work of their “professionals,” they were right about the problem about failing to communicate with the non-farm public! I mean, have they never heard of all the studies that have proven how “brand loyal” us NASCAR fans are? Even WITH all those confusing logos on the car?

OK, so they want to go a different route from the traditional paint scheme so us hayseeds here in Iowa won’t be confused. Good for them! We are pretty stupid, ya know. This will really help us focus on the plight of the American farmer! But wait! Did anyone tell all this to Furniture Row? Direct from Furniture Row PR… (professionals also, I presume):

“The decision to return to a full-time schedule was based on the positive effect the race team, along with NASCAR’s popularity, have had on the Furniture Row Companies’ marketing and advertising programs. The race team, which ran a full schedule in 2006, 2007 and 2008, also stated that it will continue to search for additional sponsorship partners in the form of primary or associate to help with costs and possibly grow the race team.”

Whoa! Back up the wagon! I thought that “Furniture Row understands that what individual cars need is a focused message, one that fans can follow, and they are leading the way with their new Car of the Heartland?” So the “Official Car of the Farmer” may have another logo on it too in the future? Won’t that confuse the “non-farm public?” Hell, I’m getting confused just trying to write about this! I can only imagine how you feel reading it!

Oh, and one more thing; what the heck is the paint scheme supposed to be anyway? I’ve lived in Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio and I just don’t think of agriculture when I see that design. I see maybe – if you look close – a pickle in water, but that’s about it.

What I do know for sure, though is that this news is good for Regan Smith. At least he will have a full-time ride to try and beat Tony Stewart again at Talladega with – even if it does look like a giant pickle (with a wing!)

Stay off the wall (and try and FOCUS, will ya!?)

Jeff Meyer

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The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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