S2000s and the Mid-Ohio 200

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pbook4g5 is here to spread the word about Honda’s promotional decal program with IndyCar. -SF

Being a relatively new S2000 owner (I purchased my 2008 Laguna Blue Pearl on March 31, 2012), I was eager and excited to get involved in my local S2K community. The Ohio S2000 community is fairly active considering there are only four major cities (Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo) spread out across the state. The marquee community event that takes place with members from the Ohio S2KI group is the Honda Indy 200 Mid-Ohio decal promotion.

Set up and organized by Ohio Community Organizer Pete Garratt (pgarratt here on S2KI), the Ohio S2KI community has been participating in the decal program in conjunction with Indycar and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course since the 2008 race. This will be the fifth year the Ohio community has participated in this event. For those who are unaware of what the decal program entails, 20-40 S2000s are selected from the Ohio community (and sometimes the surrounding communities if not enough Ohio participants can be found). Then three to four weeks before the scheduled Indycar race at Mid-Ohio, the participating S2000s put vinyl decals on their cars to advertise for the race. These decals include the Indycar logo, some various Mid-Ohio badging and some miscellaneous Indycar badging. It ends up being around nine decals per car.

Photoshoots and community meets are planned in the weeks leading up to the race where the owners have the opportunity to “show-off” their cars with the decals. When race weekend comes, all of the participating S2000s take part in a parade lap before the start of the Indycar race with an Indycar driver riding shotgun. After the parade lap, all of the participating cars park in the same area.

All in all, it’s an extremely popular event that the Ohio community gets to participate in each year. This type of event didn’t start in Ohio, however. It all started when Pete was visiting friends down in St. Petersburg during the Indycar weekend. Florida community S2000 owners were participating in the same decal program, and Pete got to talking with Indycar officials at the race and started to coordinate the same type of event for the Ohio community at the Mid-Ohio Indycar race. The rest is history.

This is my first year participating in the event, and suffice it to say, I’m having a great time driving my S2000 around Ohio promoting the event and getting to know the other Ohio S2000 owners in the process. I get a lot of different reactions to the car with the decals applied. Most of the people I run into are very curious to why the car is “dressed up” and are genuinely interested in the car and the event. Other people ask me if I’m getting paid to advertise for the race. The answer to the last question is that I’m not getting paid explicitly, but in exchange for the free advertising around Ohio, the owners get two three-day passes to the event AND we get to participate in the parade lap before the Indycar race starts with an Indycar driver riding shotgun. How cool is that?

Some people don’t see this promotion as “cool” and often question how crazy I am by putting these decals all over my basically brand new S2000. I don’t mind those people. They don’t understand. I’ve been addicted to open wheel racing ever since I can remember watching my first Indy 500 back in 1989. I was five at the time. When I got my license and a car worth road racing, I started to go to Mid-Ohio events back in 2002 and have gone at least once a year (to race or watch) since then. The Honda Indy 200 Mid-Ohio decal program combines my love of driving with my love of Indycar into the perfect marriage. And, on top of it all, I get passes to one of the best races on the Indycar circuit. Can’t beat that.

Through all of this, I’m getting to know a lot of my fellow Ohio S2000 owners, and I plan on traveling quite a bit for photoshoots and other meets while the decals are on the car. This weekend, I will be down in Cincinnati for a meet, next weekend I’ll be in Columbus, and then the following weekend is the race at Mid-Ohio. I’m also getting a chance to get some cool photos of my new car, which I have yet to take out for a proper photoshoot. My hobby outside of cars is photography, and my second job is being an athletic photographer for the Bowling Green State University fan site, so now I have the perfect excuse to get out and take some photos of my car. The decals look pretty good in the photos.

I’ve had the decals on my car for a week now, and the moment that made all of this really “cool” to me is when I drove through a parking lot and there were three little kids waiting to cross the lot with their mother. When they saw the car, all of their jaws dropped and they started yelling “Awwwww cooooooolllllll!!!!! Race car!!!!” Their reaction was pretty priceless (even though I know the S2000 is far from a real Indycar). When I parked the car, they all ran over and started to look at it (they were pretty well behaved, actually… they didn’t even touch the car). They asked if they could sit in it, and of course, I said yes. The biggest of the three kids could barely see over the steering wheel, but they all had a blast sitting in the car and “shifting” through the gears. I let the littlest of the three kids (he was probably three) start the car, and that just made their day. I wish I had my camera on me to capture that moment, but I left it at home. The kids’ excitement was a good reminder that I’m not only participating in this promotion for myself, but also to promote Indycar to everyone in the area and raise awareness for the sport, especially in the younger generations.

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