By Ryan Cristobal
November 11th, 2005/Richmond, Ca. - When the top three 2005 Hankook USTCC Driver's Championship finishers and the Apex-I Integration Rookie of the Year are honored at the USTCC Annual Awards Banquet at Le Mans Karting - Fremont another distinguished award will be presented for promotional work and accomplishments on and off the track by an individual, driver and/or team.
Rich Peterson, owner and driver of the #58 The Bergman Companies/MINIdeck Motorsports MINI Cooper-S, will be presented with the 2005 Racetech Seats USTCC Promotional Award. This is the series' highest non-racing recognition award, given to the driver individual and/or team for their promotional contributions on and off the track towards the overall exposure and success of the series. Racetech Seats (www.racetechseatsna.com) manufactures composite race seats & safety harnesses from New Zealand for the North American market. Racetech Seats and safety equipment products are the fastest selling and most recommended brand by top race car engineers and drivers in the world’s top racing series. Along with the recognition, Peterson will also receive a pre-selected Racetech seat, model number RT4009-HR. A head restraint, HANS compatible seat is FIA homologated to 8855-1999 standards. It is made of fabric covered with a gloss gel coat fiberglass shell. Thick foam padded head restraint for best possible support. Removable cushions are placed from mid back to lower thighs. The seat comes in black fabric with gray suede wear patches and a black gel coating. The seat is valued at $1099.00.
Rich Peterson along with wife Brigett and lovely daughter Grace took on the road with their #58 MINI Cooper-S race car in tow for a non-stop promotional tour on top of their 2005 Hankook USTCC campaign. Peterson established relations and partnerships with different car shows and events that helped promote, maintained exposure and an "in-person" contact between fans and the series. Peterson also became the easy choice as the ambassador for MINI Cooper's participation in the Hankook USTCC series throughout the season.
At the beginning of the season, Peterson's Mini Cooper-S was not complete and race ready to take on the race track at California Speedway with the rest of the USTCC field. Instead Peterson did an unexpected and most generous gesture by providing approximately 100 VIP dinners to the Hankook USTCC drivers and teams at one of the newest Macaroni Grills in Redlands, California courtesy of Macaroni Grill Restaurants on behalf of Rich Peterson and MINIdeck Motorsports as one of their many clients, supporter, partners and sponsors.
The Petersons' first promotional stop was the "Walking the Streets of Bakersfield" on April 23rd, an event hosted by the SoCal Mini Maniacs (SCCM) with 30 other Minis for a tour of the Sierra Nevadas and Bakersfield. There they talked up a storm about their Mini's 2005 USTCC campaign and encouraged many local Bakersfield MINI owners and drivers to come out and support their racing efforts and the series' Buttonwillow Raceway round on June 11-12. Then on June 20th, the Peterson's made their second promotional stop at the SCCM's "Night at the Races" at Irwindale Raceway, Irwindale, California where Rich and Brigett Peterson were at hand and answered questions about the Hankook USTCC series. Fans of speedway racing instantly took interest in the Mini clad with Hankook USTCC logos, the series' other sponsors and the Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose. Many people asked about specific sponsors whose logos adorn the black Mini. "The logos really stand out on this car", said Peterson. "They wanted to know about companies they'd heard about and those they weren't familiar with. It was a great chance to spotlight USTCC and our sponsors."
On July 29-31, the #58 USTCC MINI Cooper-S did miss its one and only promotional event, the "MINI Meet West" in San Ramon, California. It was the same weekend as the Grand Prix of San Jose, where the MINIdeck Motorsports MINI-S took part in the 33-car USTCC field that took racing onto the streets of downtown San Jose, California. Although many "MINI Meet West" attendees was aware of the #58 MINI-S participation in the Grand Prix, many have decided and showed up at San Jose at the last minute in support of Mini, the series and Peterson during the USTCC's Saturday race. It was like having a small version of the "MINI Meet West" event in the USTCC paddock with the Peterson's MINIdeck Motorsports MINI Cooper-S and along with the #98 MINItuner.com/5Zigen MINI Cooper-S of Vesko Kozarov as the main attractions.
The promotional tour bus continued for the Petersons. The MINIdeck Motorsports Cooper-S was in display at the "Gathering of Cars" in Rancho Cucamonga, California on September 3. It is a monthly car show held every first Saturday of the month where approximately 100 hot rods, tuner cars and sport compact cars are on display each month. Then, on September 24, "Cruisin' for a Cure" at the Orange County Fairgrounds the largest one day car show in America, was he next event.
The Petersons have taken their USTCC Cooper-S to many shows, events, runs and other car events, logging in thousands of miles in between events and the Hankook USTCC races. Since Rich Peterson's first USTCC race event the Cooper-S has been to the "Breakfast in Malibu" held every first Saturday of the month along with 30 to 40 other Minis and the "Casino to Casino Run" in San Diego last June, to list a few more events.
With the 2006 Hankook USTCC season now just around the corner, Rich Peterson and company plan to continue on their promotional tour with "MINI’s in Las Vegas" one of the largest Mini meets in the U.S. already on their date book. They also have an invitation to attend Hot Import Nights with Fireball Tim Racing, where the Cooper-S will be displayed with a MINI USA sponsored Drag Racer with 500hp and a one of kind carbon fiber body. Also, with a brand new Racetech seat, Rich Peterson hopes to improve on his USTCC racing campaign and to bring home his first podium or first win in the series.
Ryan Cristobal is a long time observer of the U.S. Touring Car Championship since its inception. He is not a direct affiliate of the Hankook USTCC and his views should not be considered a direct representative of the NASA Pro Racing sanctioned Hankook USTCC and Hankook Tires USA. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. All photos and images are by www.ustcc.com unless specified.