Interstate Batteries Route Warriors Give Extra Smiles for Extra Mile
How good can one weekend get? Unbelievable. Once-in-a-lifetime. Outrageous.
The four-day extravaganza that the 18 winners of the Extra Mile Challenge experienced May 16-19 defies description.
The winning Route Sales Managers, warehouse staff, office staff and their guests received priceless VIP access to two NASCAR races and the chance to rub elbows (and go-kart bumpers) with the down-to-earth celebrities at Joe Gibbs Racing.
“It was unbelievable, man. We had a fantastic time. It was something I will always remember,” said Bryan Quick, winner and Route Sales Manager for IBS of Southern Tier.
Tyler Savage, winner and Office Manager for IBS of Lake Havasu, said, “I’ve seen a lot, so it’s hard to impress me. This thing, this was more than I expected. My wife was even blown away.”
Meeting Team Interstate
The complete Team Interstate – Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Darrell Wallace, Jr., Drew Herring (a development driver for JGR) – signed autographs and posed for pictures. Coach Joe Gibbs and JD Gibbs also did a question-and-answer session.
Winner and Route Sales Manager Dan Cohen said go-karting with the entire JGR driver lineup was his favorite part. Everyone but Denny, who was recovering from a back injury, got behind the go-kart wheel beside Interstate’s drivers.
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime thing because the fact of getting these guys in one place at one time. All at the same time and in a way to goof off and play with them was really, really cool,” Dan said.
After grouping into teams of four, spreading the JGR drivers out as much as possible, everyone got about 5 minutes on the track – and everyone made pit stops to swap out drivers.
Racing with the pros
Tyler, a lifelong NASCAR fan and late model racecar driver himself, got to fulfill a dream of racing with the pros.
“I race at a local level, and I was really interested to see how I stacked up with these guys,” he said.
Qualifying behind Matt Kenseth by 1/100th of a second, the Lake Havasu racer got to test his mettle with Kyle and Matt. Kyle finished his team’s lap in first – with Tyler right behind him. Even though Tyler’s team finished the race outside of the top five, it was the experience of a lifetime.
Tyler’s wife, Tiffany, also had her own experience of a lifetime. Racing for Kyle’s team with Bryan Quick and Jayme Carroll, wife of Midwest Wisconsin RSM Brian Carroll, Tiffany was the first racer to finish the race and she got to run the checkered flag to around the indoor track.
No Surprise: Kyle’s Team Dominates
Bryan said he was fortunate to land on Kyle’s team.
“When you end up with Kyle Busch on your team, you’ve got a good chance of winning,” he said, adding that he knows just where to put their first place trophy. “I already told my wife it’s going on the mantle.”
Getting to pal around with Kyle and the other JGR drivers left a lasting impression – especially about Kyle himself. He coached his team’s drivers, pushed their karts after finishing the pits and generally hung around with people. Tyler and his wife shared pictures of racing in Lake Havasu with Kyle and heard about the NASCAR driver’s first race win, which was on Havasu Speedway in 1998.
Several of the Extra Milers said their go-karting time with Kyle completely changed their opinion of the No. 18 driver.
“It was exciting because you got to see a different side of Kyle,” Tyler said.
“He’s a great guy,” Brian said.
Trucks and All-Star Race
Getting to see Kyle, Matt, Denny and the rest of Team Interstate off the track was an incredible experience.
Getting to see them on the track turned out to be just as unforgettable.
The Camping World Truck Series race in Charlotte took the whole weekend to a surreal level. Not only did the winners enjoy VIP access throughout the race garage as the teams prepped for the green flag, they had access to grandstand seating and even a spot on the infield. And of course, Team Interstate was doing great on the track.
Just when the winners thought that they experienced every NASCAR fan’s dream already, Advertising and Sponsorships Manager Charlie Brim said, “You’ve got to follow me.” When Charlie summons, you’ve got to follow – and that’s what Dan Cohen and the rest of the winners did.
“That dude walks a mile a minute. Trying to keep up with him is a feat in itself,” Dan said.
As they’re hustling through the pathways around Charlotte Motor Speedway, Dan said they heard Kyle peeling out. Did Kyle just win? And they missed it? Where were they going? Charlie assured them, and led them to their destination: the CMS Victory Lane.
“That was one of those surreal moments,” Dan said. “Then we saw Kyle Busch coming in, and we’re like, ‘We’re in Victory Lane. No way. We’re in Victory Lane.'”
Even though Kyle placed third in the All-Star Race the next day, everyone had a first-place time.
Getting autographs, hanging out with Kyle’s wife Samantha and watching Fox do the pre-race interviews just a stone’s throw from their seats in the field absolutely wowed the winners and their guests.
The magnitude of the major events matched the attention to the minute details. Interstate-branded shirts and paraphernalia greeted the guests when they arrived, and at every point, the weekend was about having fun and rewarding the Extra Mile winners. Interstate’s own President & CEO Scott Miller said he’ll always remember go-karting with the RSMs.
“I had a blast!” Scott said. “RSMs are the hands and feet of Interstate, so it was great to hang with them and have some fun and talk shop.”
The All-Star Race Weekend left a huge impression with the Extra Mile winners, and many asked for a sequel to the promotion.
“Everything was so well-planned, and everyone was well taken care of. For the first time in my life, I felt like a VIP,” Tyler said. “Can I go the extra, extra, extra mile?”