Behind The Scenes

ESPN and NASCAR #Fandorsement program brings joy to young fan

Clint Bowyer poses with his car next to Ian Wilson's name. (Photo courtesy of Michael Waltrip Racing)
NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer points out Ian Wilson’s name featured on his car.
(Photo courtesy of Michael Waltrip Racing)

Earlier this month, ESPN and NASCAR launched a joint marketing campaign to promote the 10th Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup on ESPN. In addition to a series of brand spots, the campaign introduced the #Fandorsements, a unique social media contest that allows fans to “sponsor” their favorite Chase driver by submitting an original picture of their drivers’ number through Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #Fandorsements. Each week during the Chase, a new winner is selected and his/her social media handle appears above the passenger window of his/her favorite Chase driver’s car in that week’s race.

Among the hundreds of submissions received, there was a particular one that featured an expression of fandom that exceeded all other entries: A photo of Ian Wilson, a 10-year old boy from Cottonwood Falls, Kan., proudly displaying Clint Bowyer’s No. 15 through the spokes of his wheelchair. The heartfelt image of Wilson, who has cerebral palsy, caught the attention of many, including Bowyer himself, who tweeted in support of Wilson. Days later, ESPN and NASCAR happily announced Wilson as the first #Fandorsements winner.

On Sunday, Sept. 15, Bowyer carried Wilson’s name above the passenger window of his No. 15 car, as the driver took to the track at Chicagoland Speedway for the Cup’s first race, finishing eighth. Wilson and his family, also racing fans, watched the race attentively from their home, eager to see his name on Bowyer’s car as well as Ian’s photo during the race broadcast. His father, Dow Wilson, tweeted an image of his son watching the show, alongside his mother and his dog, Katie.

“Only seeing the look on Ian’s face when he views the clip on winning the Fandorsement contest can a person truly understand what this has meant to him to have his name on Clint’s car,” said Dow Wilson. “This has made Ian feel truly a part of NASCAR and has brought him great joy. We are eternally grateful!”

The second winner of the contest is Heather Anderson from Chandler, Ariz. Her twitter handle (@dinkle_0978) will be featured on Jimmie Johnson’s car at this weekeend’s New Hampshire race. Anderson’s winning photo submission will air during the NASCAR Countdown before the race.

Nine of the 10 races in the 2013 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will air on ESPN and WatchESPN, with the Saturday night, Oct. 12, race at Charlotte Motor Speedway airing on ABC.

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