The original 2012 version of the commercial for Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway recently won an industry award for cinematography. The updated 2013 version began its two-month run on June 24. The ad was shot with five HD cameras mounted on a NASCAR Modified driven by Timmy Solomito. It can be seen on Cablevision’s News 12 Long Island, an all local, all news channel.
“It was pretty cool to be part of the commercial,” Solomito. “They shot all day for a 30-second commercial. Cameras are usually not allowed on cars at Riverhead, but for the commercial they put five of them on our car. What you see is pretty wild. Those shots show what it’s all about.”
Barbara and Jim Cromarty have owned and promoted the 64-year-old Saturday night track since 1978. It was Barbara Cromarty who started researching the idea of a television ad last year.
“Racing is a visual thing,” she said. “If you’ve never been to the track, you’ve got to see it for yourself to understand the experience.
“We try to get the most out of our advertising budget,” she said. “Because of where we are, that’s not easy for us.”
Riverhead, N.Y., is on eastern Long Island, N.Y. About 80 miles to the east is the City of New York, one of the world’s largest and most expensive media markets. The population between Riverhead and the city is about one million. That’s the Cromarty’s target audience for advertising. It can be expensive to reach that many people.
“With Cablevision and News 12 Long Island, we learned we could afford it,” Barbara said.
Cablevision’s Glenda Villanueva-Marchetta recommended the Cromartys meet Brian Cristiano to discuss producing their commercial. Cristiano is CEO of BOLD Worldwide, a New York ad agency specializing in sports related television commercials. Things happened quickly from there.
“I grew up going to Riverhead Raceway with friends on Saturday nights,” Cristiano said. “When we talked about doing a commercial, I thought it was a great opportunity to do something special.”
Solomito, 21, of Islip, N.Y., was selected to be featured in the ad as an up and coming driver. He joined the NASCAR Modified ranks at Riverhead in 2009 and was the state’s NASCAR rookie of the year. He’s a race winner and a championship contender.
Cristiano said HD car cameras were placed on the front and back bumpers, the left and right side, and one inside focused on Solomito. Solomito is also seen outside the race car in the ad.
“People recognize me from the commercial, which is pretty neat,” Solomito said.
Solomito works as a counter salesman at Riverhead Building Supply, and a television set in the salesroom is usually tuned to News 12 Long Island.
“There you are,” is the most frequent comment he hears.
The Cromartys said they noticed new customers at the track and an uptick at the turnstile when the ad ran Thursdays and Fridays between June and Labor Day.
They also received unexpected added value from their relationship with Cablevision and News 12.
“We’ve never been able to get them to the track,” Cromarty said. “Now they’ve been here, done interviews and had Riverhead Raceway on two different shows. We didn’t expect that and were pleasantly surprised. I think even they found out once you get to the track you’ll have a good time.”
“Riverhead Raceway isn’t our usual consumer packaged goods client, but it’s where I grew up on Saturdays. My grandfather loved NASCAR racing and we’d go to Riverhead a lot.”
A total of seven HD cameras were used including two that roamed the facility.
“Once we filmed and saw what we had, I knew we had something special,” Cristiano said of the day’s work. “It shows people they have to be there to be on the edge of their seat.”
News 12 Long Island’s coverage area of about 800,000 households includes Nassau and Suffolk Counties. That’s all of Long Island east of New York City.
Villanueva-Marchetta was the pivotal person in the Riverhead commercial endeavor. She evaluated the Cromarty’s needs for a successful ad and brought in Cristiano to make it happen.
“The beauty of cable is that it is very affordable and effective,” Villanueva-Marchetta said. “Working with the Cromartys was an education for me. They are my first race track client and they opened up a whole new world to me. When I understood their needs, then I made a call to Brian. His background at Riverhead made him instantly familiar with the format.”
In all, seven ads BOLD Worldwide produced last year won industry awards of excellence known as Telly Awards.
BOLD Worldwide recently joined car owner Wayne Anderson and Solomito as one of the sponsors on their NASCAR Modified.
“We were instantly impressed by Timmy’s professionalism on and off the track as well as his tenacity to be the best,” Cristiano said. “It was an obvious connection and we are incredibly proud to be one of his sponsors.”
More information on the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is available at http://hometracks.nascar.com.
By Paul Schaefer, NASCAR