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How Influencers Are Contributing To The Longevity of Motorsports
BY Garret Transue //
June 6, 2023
@nova.mov
Photography: Garret Transue
@nova.mov
Videography: Garret Transue
@nova.mov
  • Formula 1 and NASCAR series’ popularity may be at an all-time high, but influencers are also doing their part in sustaining interest and participation in grassroots motorsports.
  • After breaking track attendance records in Ireland, Drift Games and Adam LZ set out on a world tour across four tracks in four countries.
  • The first stop of the LZ World Tour put on a unique show for a unique crowd in Englishtown, New Jersey — one of Adam’s old stomping grounds.
  • The event amassed over 300 cars, 8,000+ spectators, and 500,000 live-stream viewers across the 2-day stop.

Thanks to streaming platforms like YouTube and Netflix, there are more eyeballs glued to motorsport than ever before. About 3.7 million videos are uploaded to YouTube each day — copious amounts of build overviews, part installs, automotive history lessons, and lifestyle vlogs — showcasing all of the truly fulfilling car moments you can experience, even before you have your license. 

I should know. I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life surrounded by cars before I watched my first NASCAR or Formula 1 race, all thanks to the various automotive content creators scattered across the internet. In that way, automotive influencers’ popularity and impact have transcended beyond the computer screen. Today, they are the gatekeepers for motorsport and will sustain interest in racing (from grassroots to pro level) long after Drive to Survive airs its last episode. Need proof?

RECORDS ARE BROKEN IN IRELAND

With the help of Adam LZ, the renowned automotive YouTuber, Drift Games broke attendance records at Mondello Park in Ireland where they hosted the first-ever LZ Fest. “It attracted more people to the venue than any other drift, British GT, British Touring Car, British Superbike, and FIA Sportscar event ever held at the circuit in the past,” wrote Speedhunters.

The event literally turned heads around the world with a unique combination of theatric driving, show cars, and a long list of prominent automotive influencer appearances. With the rising, global demand for an encore, Drift Games and Adam LZ partnered again to bring the “LZ World Tour” to four different tracks in four different countries.

FIRST STOP: NEW JERSEY

The first stop of this highly-anticipated world tour was set to be held at my local track, Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey. It might seem strange that of all the destinations in the world, the LZ Tour would land in New Jersey, but Adam LZ called the East Coast home for a long time and Englishtown was more or less a “home” track for him as well.

Anyway, there was no way I was going to miss this event; the likes of TJ Hunt, Jimmy Oakes, Evan Shanks, Sammit, Hert, Randy Truong, Grant Anderson, Taylor Ray, Chris Rudnick, Colette Davis, and more joined LZ to put on a show for the East Coast.

It was reported that 8,000+ spectators came out to see Adam and the impressive lineup of drift-based influencers in the flesh, while the main event was live-streamed to just under 500,000 viewers between the 2-day event.

Clean Culture exhibited over 300 show cars, which only added to the spectator entertainment value while there weren’t any cars on track. There was so much to do and see that the car show and drift exhibition could have stood on their own as separate events. Aside from the normal happenings at an automotive event, there were three aspects of the LZ World Tour that were unlike any I’ve attended:

CAMERAS, CAMERAS EVERYWHERE

With a driver’s list full of popular influencers and a talented media team tasked with capturing the event in all its glory, there was no shortage of cameras out, even before spectators arrived. Every which way there was content being created, some were filming themselves with the back camera of their iPhone, while others were talking with their dedicated media team to craft up some sort of entertainment before the rush of fans swarmed the pits. After which, increased the number of videos being recorded and pictures being taken tenfold. 

The pits slowly became a jungle of crazed fans with phones raised above everyone’s heads like trees providing shade for all of its inhabitants. It would be safe to say that there was at least one, if not 3-5 cameras recording at any given moment. And to think that each video or picture taken was most likely shared with at least one friend, or posted as a story for all their followers to see, the number of eyes that saw content from this event is almost unfathomable. 

Along with the high-profile guests, Adam also debuted his 4-rotor A91 Toyota Supra drift car with a Street Hunters widebody kit. This was his first competition with the new chassis, and it made it through the entire event with no major issues!

Being able to look at the intricacies of this build in person was one thing, but hearing the scream of all four rotors echo off the walls of the stadium while burnt rubber filled the air was a sensory overload I’ll never forget.

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH

Not only was it a spectacle to see Piotr Wiecek, two-time Drift Masters Grand Prix champion in the middle of rural New Jersey, but to see him come out of the judge’s booth to battle Adam LZ was like nothing else I’ve ever seen at a motorsports event. Where else can you watch a judge challenge a participant in the event he’s supposed to be officiating? Forget drifting, a spectacle like that doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world of competitive sports. 

ULTERIOR MOTIVES

The last unique aspect of the LZ World Tour comes from why 8,000 spectators even showed up in the first place. Unlike F1, NASCAR, and Formula DRIFT, fans didn’t come expecting to see the highest level of race car drivers the world had to offer. Instead, they came expecting to see, and interact with, the personalities they’ve dedicated hours of their lives watching on the internet (myself included).

Don’t get me wrong, the level of driving was top-tier, often with current, or ex-professional drivers competing against each other, other influencers, or the local heroes of Raceway Park. But as I said, the driving itself wasn’t what brought out the masses. Fans traveled from states away and formed hour-long lines just to see their favorite YouTuber destroy tires and meet them in real life.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE FUTURE

Are influencer-only events going to become more popular going forward? Will all future race events need influencer appearances to guarantee some amount of spectator turnout? For the struggling tracks, how viable is it to host an influencer-focused event, and are there any other options at this point? Will influencers start to take the sponsor money away from professional drivers if they are able to draw just as many eyes? Or will the line separating professional racer and influencer start to blur?

Regardless of the answers, it’s nice to escape and think about all of the new eyes Adam, and automotive influencers alike, are exposing to the world of motorsports. These are the individuals that are going to continue to propel the sport forward in the digital age and help inspire the next Lewis Hamilton, Dale Earnhardt Sr., and Ken Block, along with the rest of the next generation of automotive enthusiasts.



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