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On the fast track

hawn Salvatore ’97
has spent his whole life racing toward a career in cars. He’s come a long way since working at his father’s auto-parts store: now he runs multi-million dollar sponsorship deals for NASCAR. And he’s learned there’s a lot more to it than pasting a company logo on a race car. “It’s a competitive business,” he says. “You really have to promote your team to capitalize on the sponsorship.”

The communications graduate took a position at the Philadelphia-based advertising firm of Harris Biao and McCullough in 1997. One of the firm’s clients sponsored the #99 NASCAR racing team of driver Jeff Burton. To cash in on NASCAR’s growth, the company steered big funding into the team and asked HB&M to organize the sponsorship.

After arranging countless public appearances, commercials and special events, HB&M is now a leader in NASCAR promotion. Salvatore is an integral part of the process, attending races to promote his clients. With today’s sponsorship packages approaching $18 million, ad-execs have to work full-throttle to maximize returns on their investments. “Sometimes the hours get crazy,” he says. “But you have to remind yourself that what you’re doing for a living is what most fans do for fun.”

Salvatore works to link those fans with drivers and their sponsors. “NASCAR has a great connection with its fans, so we try to get the drivers out with the people as much as possible,” he says. The fans appreciate his efforts. “It’s incredible to be riding around with Jeff Burton and see how crazy the fans go when they see him,” he says.

Salvatore has a special incentive to make sure NASCAR’s supporters get noticed. Parts Plus Auto Parts, corporate owner of his dad’s store, is now one of NASCAR’s biggest sponsors.

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