If there’s anyone who really understands the old racing adage “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday,” it’s Jim Campbell, General Motors’ US vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports. In a Friday morning seminar titled “Racing Technology Today—NASCAR Gen-6, United Sports Car and IndyCar,” Campbell provided insight into the technology and business strategies that have led to Chevrolet’s return to the top of the racing heap and, as a result, increased car sales.
Campbell devoted a large part of his presentation to Chevrolet’s role in persuading NASCAR to abandon the Car of Tomorrow in favor of the Generation-6 car that provides much greater brand identity, as well as to the fascinating process of using cutting edge technologies such as CFD and wind tunnel testing to design a successful new race car from the ground up—in this case the SS, which debuted at the Daytona 500 and garnered the NASCAR manufacturers’ championship for Chevy this year.
Campbell said that the clear differentiation of brands that has resulted from the Gen-6 car has been good for NASCAR, the fans, and all of the OEMs by putting brand rivalry back into the equation. It has been particularly good for Chevy because of its huge success in racing over the past few years, which Campbell said has a huge impact on consumers’ buying decisions. Not coincidentally, sales of the company’s cars and light trucks increased by more than eight percent in the first 10 months of this year.
“Where we see the benefits of racing for Chevrolet, in a nutshell, is in technology transfer, the ability to develop engineers, and the ability to interact with our current Chevrolet customers and prospective customers in order to sell them a car, truck or part down the road,” said Campbell. “When you win races and championships, your brand opinion is lifted among both face fans and non race fans. We have data that shows that they give you more credit for performance, quality and durability. Good things happen after that because customers put you on their shopping list more quickly when they have a high opinion of your brand.”