20 20 August 15, 2012 Seller's Guide : Page 30
DARIO KNOWS WHAT’S FASHIONISTAS STEP ASIDE AND TAKE NOTE AS INDY 500 WINNER DARIO FRANCHITTI DONS DISTINCTIVE OAKLEY SPORT SUNGLASSES AND MILKS THE WINNER’S CIRCLE DELIVERING HONOR, TREND AND SUPER-TECH GOALS. BY JAMES J. SPINA eing a motorsport gearhead from the age of 8 or so, it is easy rattling off the first ever inkling of advertising marketing that came my way: Win on Sunday… Sell on Monday. It was the rally cry for automakers the world over, and especially so for Amer-ican-made muscle. If Ford could beat Chevy or Pontiac could beat Plymouth on any given race sanctioned strip of asphalt on the Lord’s day, come Monday the choice between a Mustang and Camaro or a Firebird and a Challenger was simplified by the racing machine and driver’s head under the champagne bath in the winner’s circle. Oddly, the actual brand-of-car criteria has cooled of late as non-automotive sponsorship and support dollars have soared in motorsport so the maxim remains, and when Dario Franchitti took a bath (in milk!) celebrating his B
DARIO KNOWS WHAT’S WHITE NOW
Being a motorsport gearhead from the age of 8 or so, it is easy rattling off the first ever inkling of advertising marketing that came my way: Win on Sunday… Sell on Monday.
It was the rally cry for automakers the world over, and especially so for American- made muscle. If Ford could beat Chevy or Pontiac could beat Plymouth on any given race sanctioned strip of asphalt on the Lord’s day, come Monday the choice between a Mustang and Camaro or a Firebird and a Challenger was simplified by the racing machine and driver’s head under the champagne bath in the winner’s circle.
Oddly, the actual brand-of-car criteria has cooled of late as non-automotive sponsorship and support dollars have soared in motorsport so the maxim remains, and when Dario Franchitti took a bath (in milk!) celebrating his victory at this year’s Indy 500, the adoring (buying!) public was attuned to two high-profile messages. His car was slathered in Target’s white-on-red bull’s-eye logo, and his face was proudly and loudly spec-ed for sun in a super high-profile pair of WHITE Oakley sunglasses.
Dario’s Chip Ganassi Racing car was, indeed, powered by Honda to a stunning and dramatic victory that Sunday but come Monday, tons of fan faces were racing for a pair of those white Oakleys rather than a Honda Civic. And the sentiments charging those gleaming white Oakleys went far beyond just being a performance or style statement.
“That last lap said it all,” notes Franchitti. “Along with rookie Takuma Sato it was like old times with three good friends out there—me, Tony (Kanaan) and Scott (Dixon) running together, and all of us thinking about our best friend Dan laughing at us going at it for the win.”
Dan is Danny Wheldon, last year’s Indy winner who tragically lost his life in a terrible crash in October at the 2011 Indy Car series last race in Las Vegas. Truly best friends, that sad passing hit Kanaan, Dixon and Franchitti hard. Very hard.
And it impacted so many of the actions and sentiments of all three of the drivers proceeding this year’s Indy 500. Dixon had literally moved his family to help Wheldon’s wife and children coping with the grief and reality of losing a devoted husband and father. Renowned for his gigantic toothy smile and intense focus on winning, Tony Kanaan acknowledged his respect and friendship for Danny in tear-filled testaments every time he was approached in pre- and post-race interviews.
And even in the indescribable thrill of winning Indy for the third time, Dario Franchitti made sure Wheldon’s wife Susie shared victory lane and a victory lap in the pace car with him and his wife, Ashley Judd. On that glorious ride in front of a roaring crowd and as he kissed the bricks at the start/finish line just as his friend Danny did exactly a year ago, Franchitti donned his white Oakleys, as a face-time tribute to Danny’s “Beau Brummel” attitude toward O-So-Right-O-So-White sunglasses.
“We really wanted the day to be a tribute to Dan. He was always happy. Always upbeat and on it when it came to racing and also when it came to the way he looked in private and in public.” Franchitti notes that Wheldon took particular care with his helmet art, his huge collection of white sport shoes, and his absolute devotion to his white sunglasses.
“Danny always had his glasses on before AND after a race. It was a personal trademark. And he made all of us very aware of how important it was to both see and look good in sunglasses. Just as important as that team hat but no one keeps switching out your glasses when you are in that winner’s circle. Those glasses are YOURS,” says Franchitti. “And everybody knows it.”
That special sunglass tribute wasn’t just a few close friends focusing attention on their specs. Franchitti tells 20/20 that on race day (Sunday of Memorial Day weekend), fans at the speedway were given white sunglasses and asked to wear them specifically on laps 26 and 98 of the 200 lap race. Those were the numbers on Wheldon’s cars for his two Indy 500 wins.
Franchitti reflects, “It took great energy and spirit to devote the day in these ways. And now it gives all of us and the fans a chance to move on and enjoy racing. That’s the way Dan would do it.”
Sensing 20/20’s enthusiasm for the sport and the particular race, Franchitti is quick and very responsive to detailing the dramatic last lap of Indy where he entered the first corner leading but fully aware of the fact that due to the setup and specific telemetry of the new Dallara chassis, now standard to all Indy cars, being out front was not enough.
“Sato was right behind me, and even though I was leading I was actually breaking the air for him, and he would have the opportunity to snap out of that draft and pull a pass. But as a rookie he was anxious to make his move. I thought it would come at turn three or on the final corner. But he took action for a pass in a tight spot. He dove for the gray area of the track down deep on the inside.”
Sato’s early move at the start of the last lap proved to be his undoing. It was a classic rookie mistake after carefully assessing the previous 199 laps. From his racing perspective in the lead position, Franchitti braced as Sato dug down on the inside and in doing so dipped down slightly below the inner white line of the racetrack in turn one of the two and a half-mile oval. “That move had already proven itself as being a mistake for others in the race. We hit and I was lucky enough to stay out of trouble,” says Franchitti. Their exposed racing wheels touched (always a vulnerable mistake in open-wheeled racing cars), and Sato careened backwards, spinning in to the wall and a red-faced, though safe did-not-finish. Dario coasted to his win (and Indy’s traditional milk bath) under a yellow flag with Dixon second and Tony Kanaan third.
Even though Franchitti obviously relishes this detailed retelling of the final moments to victory, his best anecdote concerning his win swirls right back to his white sunglasses.
“The plan was to always face the spotlight in my white sunglasses. My particular pair is the Oakley Holbrook. But when I drove in to the Winner’s Circle I couldn’t find them. I needed to have on white sunglasses so as my crew started to surround me I saw a pair of the Oakley Fuel Cell style on one of the team Ganassi engineers. I immediately borrowed his. Of course they got covered in milk but I kept them on for the full ceremony since it was important to me that the tribute to D-Dub (a nickname for Danny) would be forever in all of the celebration pictures.”
Everyone felt in the spirit of that moment. No surprise then that the lucky engineer asked for and got back his Oakley Fuel Cell.
So remember that sponsorship and marketing scenario opening this story? Win on Sunday. Sell on Monday. For Franchitti it definitely goes beyond the marketing gimmicks. As 20/20 was all ready to say goodbye just loving the fact that Franchitti donned his white Oakleys in a gracious and heartfelt tribute, the man proved his tech meddle by reinforcing his shades deal as being more than just a big-buck racing sponsorship.
“I’ve been friends with Oakley for a long time. I wore them when I first started in Indy racing and kept wearing them when I briefly raced in NASCAR. I love that they are willing to sponsor my efforts but my loyalty goes beyond that. The Oakley benefit to me is twofold. They make a quality product and they are the best glasses when it comes to bright sun. The lenses are perfect for driving, and the frames stand up to hard punishment and abuse.”
And AS a driver Dario Franchitti is looking forward to working with Oakley in any capacity when it comes to furthering the technological attributes of Oakley sunglasses in any and all varieties of driving conditions, from normal highway driving through to the rigors of racing conditions.
And on this point he is clear in his final words: “You can switch out my sponsor hats but leave my glasses alone.”
Read the full article at http://bt.e-ditionsbyfry.com/article/DARIO+KNOWS+WHAT%E2%80%99S+WHITE+NOW/1136460/120742/article.html.