A good marketing strategy can be compared to fishing. You can’t let the hook just sit there, you’ve got to keep it moving and ideally have more than one in the water. So that’s why I took my wife to a car race for her birthday.
One of the Food Network’s cast-offs was Food Fantasy, a show that was meant to make someone’s food related fantasy come true. So what the hell, I sent them a proposal in which I would cook for Chip Ganassi’s Indy Car team. I would be happy to spend the weekend inhaling methanol fumes, chatting with the mechanics and drivers and watching the race from the VIP seats. 24 hours later I had a very positive response from the production company and 24 hours later they had a very positive response from the Ganassi team and with Target sponsorship and the Chicago (Target’s H/Q) race in the near future, the P/R folks at Ganassi thought Target would prefer to see this episode filmed in Chicago. So roughly three days after that initial email, I came home from work, trudged upstairs and saw my lovely wife on the computer reading email.
“You’re gonna be on Food Fantasy?”
“You’re gonna be on Food Fantasy and you’re taking me to a CAR RACE!?”
If looks could kill, the death rays would have obliterated not only me but the neighbors as well. To make matters worse, the race in Chicago fell on my wife’s birthday.
“Hey, cheer up sweetheart, we can celebrate your birthday in Chicago, right sweetie?”
“Would you like to know my fantasy right now, Sweetheart? And if the show is called Food Fantasy, why the hell aren’t we going to PARIS!?”
About two days later my wife started talking to me again. Before I could agree to do this, my wife and I compromised and decided that since we would be filming all day Friday, we would go nowhere near the track on Saturday then return on Sunday for the race. If I wanted to inhale methanol fumes, it would have to be on her terms, so of course I agreed. And did I ever inhale some fumes. Ganassi’s chef, a guy named Jon Wheeler, was such a gearhead that as we were chatting outside the team’s pit area he surmised that the Toyota V-8 had a different set of headers, the engine had a new note to it, a bit sharp on the high notes. My wife and I were right next to one another, earplugs in place when one of the mechanics walked up and asked Chef Wheeler what was for lunch.
“Lasagna and Caesar Salad” He yelled as the mechanic lifted his headphones.
The mechanic offered a thumbs-up then patted his belly and smiled.
Jon lifted the headphone off of this guy’s ear and yelled “It sounds like you got a different set of headers on her.”
Another smile, another thumbs-up.
I turned to my wife, smiled and yelled “New headers!” She shook her head, rolled her eyes and offered “have fun, sweetheart” and walked back to the hospitality tent so she could commiserate with Tim Allen’s date.
Later that day I personally made lunch for Juan Montoya and Jimmy Vasser, even though it was exactly the same meal they had seen at every previous race weekend in the last five months, Jimmy made a big deal out of how delicious his food was.
Our date the following evening, in the luxurious, hushed surroundings of TRU restaurant made up for all of the high revving hysterics the day prior and our marriage survived yet another Mars/Venus weekend. As my wife and I approach our 25th anniversary, I promise that I’m not taking her to another car race. Maybe we’ll go on a cruise on one of the big liners, Carnival perhaps? And when I get asked if I would like to see the engine room, I’ll be sure to leave Mrs. Malik poolside.