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Speed Sells

In my last blog entry, I told you about a unique promotional campaign Littelfuse initiated this year called “Speed2Design” that gives working engineers like you the chance to win the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not just attend one of four IndyCar races, but to go behind the scenes into the pits and garage area, meet the driver and team engineers of the KV Racing Technology IndyCar team, and learn firsthand what it takes to make an automobile travel in excess of 220 mph. The first race in the campaign – the legendary Indy 500 – took place this weekend and I got to spend a few hours with the lucky winners, watching final practice on Carb Day and chatting with the team’s engineers.

Having been a motor racing journalist for the past 40 years, I kind of take that stuff for granted. It’s easy to forget what a rarified world the pits and garages can be to people who may only see the sport from the grandstands or on their big-screen TV. It only took a few minutes with the contest winners to feel their excitement and realize what a truly unique experience Littelfuse had given these people. So while they were getting a tutorial on IndyCar steering wheel technology from one of the team’s engineers, I decided to ask Rhonda Stratton, Marketing Communications Manager for Littelfuse and the woman behind the Speed2Design concept, how she came up with the idea, and how it’s been working out so far for the company.

NTB: What prompted Littelfuse to get involved in IndyCar racing?

Rhonda Stratton: When Mouser, our distributor, presented us with the opportunity to join their sponsorship program, we saw it as a perfect opportunity to connect our audience with motorsports. Our audience are engineers of all forms – design engineers – and engineers are fascinated by technology. Well, there’s no better place to see technology performing at its very best than in motorsports.

NTB: How did the whole Speed2Design idea come about?

Stratton: Well, one night I was coming up with a business plan for the sponsorship idea, and it needed a name. And like any engineer knows, there are timelines, especially now with staffing and cutbacks. There is always a race to finish, to complete designs. Engineers need the information that they need for their projects fast. They need to know where to go. So we tied in the whole speed element of motorsports with the sense of urgency that engineers feel every day with their designs.

NTB: Approximately how many entries did you receive for this contest?

Stratton: Well, I was nervous a few days before the launch wondering if I would have enough engineers – 5 engineers – to take to the first race. But I’m pleased to say that we have increased our end-customer database – our engineering database – by almost 50-percent since we started the promotion. The first day – April 30 – that we went live with Speed2Design, it was like sitting and watching the power meter on your house. The entries were just coming in by the millisecond! So we knew that we had created the right program. Engineers are interested in technology and engineering no matter where it is. They are interested in motorsports; we proved that. So we are very pleased. The promotion is in its fourth week and we still have 3 months to go!

NTB: What impact do you think the Speed2Design campaign will have on the Littelfuse brand overall?

Stratton: We think…no, we know that it will have a huge impact. Circuit protection in motorsports is the same as circuit protection in a pacemaker that’s implanted in someone’s body. We know that keeping people alive is important, the same as protecting a race car driver. We know that with our program, by showing the value of circuit protection and how it correlates to motorsports with our products, we know that it’s a huge success. It’s already been a huge success.

I can think of at least 5 people who would agree wholeheartedly with that assessment. If you would like to win an opportunity to go behind the scenes at an upcoming IndyCar race and learn firsthand what it takes to design, build and maintain some of the fastest closed-course racing machines on the planet, there’s still time. To enter, go to http://www.techbriefs.com/speed2design.