Posted by Paul Wackell
Imagine Web Design
Principal Designer, Social Media and Marketing Consultant
Lets set the scene, (because you couldn’t make this stuff up even if you tried). Monday evening, the Daytona 500, live from Daytona Florida. The Super Bowl of NASCAR – that’s right I used a football metaphor for stock car racing – deal with it! By the way I’m a NASCAR fanatic and have been since I was six years old. This may seem weird for a guy from Massachusetts but I embraced my Inner Redneck very early on in my life. I consider myself to a duel citizen of Massachusetts and Alabama! Go Skynyrd. But I digress (what a surprise).
For the NASCAR fans no explanation of the details is required but again since this is Massachusetts, I’ll explain the details. It was lap 160 of 200. The race was under a caution flag (also known as a yellow flag, it is used when there’s a crash, or there’s debris on the track or some other circumstance arises that makes it unsafe to proceed with the race at top speed. A yellow flag is waived and the race slows to a predetermined speed, usually 60 miles per hour our under, controlled by a pace car, until the track is cleaned up.)
The race was about to resume again, the pack (all the cars lined up for restart) was circling the track on the last lap before the green flag was to be waved to restart the race. Juan Pablo Montoya driving the Number 42 Target, Chip Ganassi, Ford, was coming out of pit row, speeding up to catch the field when something in the back end of his car broke, sending his car into and uncontrollable slide striking a jet dryer causing a massive explosion and fire.
Jet Dryer just after impact!
A jet dryer is a large truck with a surplus army helicopter jet turbine engine mounted on the back, along with 200 gallons of jet fuel. Hence the explosion! They are used to dry off the track after rain or to blow debris off the track during a caution flag.
Juan Pablo’s car just after impact!
I promise I’m getting to the point! Immediately after the explosion, jet fuel leaked out onto the track creating a wall of fire and the race was red flagged (red flag waves, the race is halted, the cars stop on the track until it is safe to start again). Both Juan Pablo and the driver of the jet dryer were uninjured in case you were wondering!
The explosion occurred in a location where there was little camera coverage and since the race was about to start, most of the TV cameras were focused on the rest of the field, so at first they didn’t have a great view of the fire. Here’s where we get back on track.
Cars stopped under red flag.
While the field was stopped, Brad Keselowski, driver of the number 2 Miller Lite, Roger Penske, Dodge, who happened to have his smart phone in the pocket of his racing suit, took out his phone and snapped several pictures of the fire and then tweeted them! NASCAR has embraced social media with enthusiasm, but this was the first tweet ever from a driver during a race. The tweet was immediately picked up by the announcers in the TV booth and the images shown on the air, and attributed to Brad. It became quite a point of conversation.
First image taken by Brad, from inside his car and Tweeted.
Within minutes Brads Twitter following went from 60,000 to over 200,000 followers! How often have you struggled to add a few followers!
So NASCAR dude, what’s the moral of the story? – Social media and smart phones have become pervasive in all aspects of our lives. Social media has become an important, instant outlet for breaking news – and last but not least, you never know when something you tweet, will get you more followers, so keep tweeting – its free!