YUKON, Okla.-Using auto racing as its primary advertising vehicle, a group of independent Goodyear dealers in and around Oklahoma City is raising brand awareness while pulling in money for charity.
Seventeen area dealers have joined forces to form the Metro Goodyear Dealers Race Team, which raises money for the Oklahoma City Children's Hospital. That, in turn, leads to greater public exposure and positive publicity for the dealerships.
``It lets people know these guys are doing a good thing and this would be a good place to do business,'' said Scott Deatherage of Dee's Tire Stores in Yukon.
Known as the Metro Goodyear Dealers Group, the 17 dealerships are the primary sponsors of the racing team, though several other local businesses also are helping financially.
The Metro team has two cars, driven by Mr. Deatherage and Dan Enockson. After two races they were first in the points standings, having recorded first- and second-place finishes.
The better the team finishes, the more money it raises for Children's Hospital.
The funds go to the hospital's ``Aikman's End Zone,'' a crafts, theatre and recreation center created by former Dallas Cowboy star quarterback and Oklahoma native Troy Aikman.
Two weeks into the racing season, the team had raised about $1,000 and Mr. Deatherage said the goal is to raise ``as much as possible. It's unlimited. We're just now starting to get some real good publicity to where we can get some corporate sponsors.''
Mr. Deatherage owns the two Metro cars, which are decorated in Goodyear ``rolling thunder'' style. And he isn't merely in the racing game to raise a few dollars.
``It's not a messing around hobby kind of thing,'' he said. ``It's all grass roots. We're trying to win. The good thing about that is it's good for everybody. Nobody loses. We're not trying to be conservative or save a car. We're trying to raise money. We're going all-out every night.''
He capitalizes on the racing angle by keeping his cars on display at stores and by displaying such other racing relics as top fuel drag racing tires and Indy car tires. The agreement with the other dealers is that they call the venture the Metro Goodyear Dealers racing team. Mr. Deatherage is hoping all the area dealers realize how the racing team can promote their businesses-with relatively little expense.
``The best publicity is the publicity you don't have to pay for,'' said Larry Deatherage, Scott's father and the son of the founder of Dee's Tire. ``You just have to get out in front of people where they can see you.''
Dee's Tire has three locations, which are part of Goodyear's Gemini auto service network. They sell Goodyear and Kelly tires and offer full automotive service and custom wheels. Dee's does $2.5 million in sales annually, Larry Deatherage said, with about half of that coming from tire sales.
The Metro Dealers team also participates in ``Reading and Racing,'' a program to challenge elementary school kids to read outside of the classroom.
In addition to Scott Deatherage and Mr. Enockson, the rest of the Metro racing team includes crew chief Tony Wooten, powertrain specialist Kevin Kirkwood, tire specialist Todd Housel and setup man Tim Larremore.