NASCAR's Fan Council isn't for the uninitiated. The online group is vetted to ensure that only racing's faithful take part in the 10,000-member community. The reason? These 10,000 fans have some serious pull with the sport's head honchos. "We bounce a lot of ideas off of them," says Blake Davidson, vice president of licensing and consumer products at NASCAR. "It's something that's been very beneficial to us since we've started it and a way to get immediate feedback from the fans on everything from marketing initiatives to things happening in the [live] competitions, to broadcast."
In 2009, NASCAR instituted double-file restarts into every race thanks in large part to suggestions and input from its fans, says Davidson. (Previously, when a race was stopped due to an accident or weather, the race resumed with cars lined up in single-file instead of side by side.) NASCAR fans even have a say in the league's Hall of Fame inductees. They accounted for one of the 55 votes eligible to determine the hall's next members, which carries significant weight, according to Davidson.
Other NASCAR sponsors are also getting in on the crowdsourcing action. Wal-Mart used fan input to decide nearly every aspect of this month's race at Pocono Racetrack in Long Pond, Penn. The fans chose everything from the race name -- Party in the Poconos -- to the kind of concessions that were served --loaded potato skin perogies.
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