United Wheels’ newest marketer took some time to write about her experience during a recent trip to Watkins Glen, NY for an E-Product Activation Event.
Just after Labor Day, I got to join a couple of team members on a trip to Watkins Glen, NY, to engage with fans and participants of the Sports Vintage Racing Association’s SpeedTour at Watkins Glen International. The goal of attending this event was to bring more awareness to our Huffy and Buzz brands, offer test rides of our newer e-products, and gather reviews. The event lasted four days, and it was fun to experience the atmosphere of being at a race and getting the chance to remind people of the joy that comes with hopping on a bike. Riding an e-bike or e-scooter really brings out childlike happiness in any adult.
To give you a little bit of an overview of the trip, I’ve broken it up day-by-day to give a run through of some highlights of each day we were there.
Day 1 – Thursday
Thursday was the first day of practice runs at the track and was our “test ride” for the weekend, given that it was primarily just race teams at the track that day. We were surrounded by the sounds of the practice laps, and all the hustle and bustle got me excited for the weekend to come. Thankfully, we had beautiful weather on the first day, and our little team of three worked hard to put everything together and were very proud of the end result (Images 2 and 3).
Thursday was also an opportunity for us to take a self-guided tour around the grounds. The track was set a few miles outside of beautiful mountains right by Seneca Lake and the views were just incredible. Image 4 is from the grandstands at the track, and you can see just behind the grounds the beautiful mountain range we drove past each day on our way to the track.
Day 2 – Friday
Friday was our first day with people coming in full swing to the track – campers were driving in, crews were fine-tuning cars for the races, and, not to be cheesy, but the grounds were just buzzing. Friday, we offered a lot of test rides – I would say the stars of the show throughout the whole weekend were our Buzz Centris folding fat tire e-bike, the Huffy Motoric folding fat tire e-bike, and our e-scooters.
Drivers and crew members often did double takes (some even doubled back) because an electric scooter or bike would make life on the track much easier, and faster! There’s lots of ground to cover at Watkins Glen International and knowing that there are even larger tracks out there, I can imagine how useful something like that would be. We also had a lot of regular racegoers stop by and take interest in our scooters as well, because they fold up nicely and would fit well in the back of a camper, or in a car.
At the end of the day once the races concluded, my teammate and I got to go down to the track and ride our Buzz and Huffy fat tires on the track. With the mountains in the background and the tire marks on the track from the day’s races, it was a cool experience to ride our e-bikes where cars were racing just an hour before.
Day 3 – Saturday
As each day passed, the days got busier – Saturday was a full day of test rides, sales, conversations with racegoers and crews, and of course, races. We joked that it felt like “Groundhog Day” as each day we were up before the sun and heading to the track, setting up, running the booth, and tearing down at the end of the day. However, one thing never got old, and that was seeing people truly enjoy the experience of riding our products. People had a lot of takeaways after riding the bikes and scooters, but one thing I never heard was, “that was boring.” Being newer to the world of cycling, it was interesting to me to see the way both avid bikers and people who don’t ride bikes at all responded to these products with such enthusiasm.
Another fun way we got to delight visitors was through raffles for people who took test rides and left reviews. Our raffle prize for 9 lucky riders was the opportunity to take a ride in the pace car. For those who aren’t familiar with racing, the pace car circles the track before the start of the race to keep everyone at about the same speed, and then exits the track when everyone is in line and on pace so the race cars can then get the green flag to start racing. So, in short, it is a really cool experience for attendees to get to ride the length of the racetrack before the race begins and have the race vehicles roaring behind them. Image 6 has one group of pace car ride winners – the couple got to ride together with the father of the family in image 7. What a cool memory for them!
We had two other sets of winners on Saturday, but we were quite busy with lots of test rides and visitors, so I didn’t get photos of them, but a couple people came back to tell us what a cool experience it was for them.
And that brings us to Sunday – the final race day at Watkins Glen International. Sunday was a bit slower, but we still had some busy times. It was pretty gloomy on Sunday, so I think that had some impact on the crowds, but we still had a great last day. People came by for test rides, and on the last day we even had some return visitors who wanted to take one last ride on a bike or scooter.
Since it was slower in the morning, I took our Buzz Centris folding fat tire e-bike out to ride around the campgrounds and pass out some giveaways because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love free stuff?! Especially koozies…if you’ve ever gone camping, surely you know that you can never have too many koozies.
Another fun part of Sunday was the opportunity I had to wave the green flag to start a race in the afternoon. And I will be honest, I was a bit nervous about it! I didn’t want to accidentally start the race too soon, or even worse, drop the flag on the track…can you imagine?! I’m happy to report I started the race in good time and did not drop the flag on the track! It was the coolest feeling to be in the flag stand and have all the racers driving right under where I stood. It was certainly an experience I won’t soon forget, and a great way to wrap up this race weekend.
So that brings us to the end of the Watkins Glen Activation Event. All in all, it was an awesome learning experience, and just a fun experience overall. Not many people can say they’ve taken a trip like this for work! The event was very successful from sales, to exposure, to reconnecting with old Huffy riders. People got to enjoy our e-products and remember what it felt like to be a kid again and, hopefully for some, rekindled a love for riding.