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Sponsor dropped by spokesperson after insensitive tweet, now that’s a switch!

Tensions have been high within the Formula One community after a racially insensitive tweet last week alluding to Presidential elect Donald Trump’s promise to build a wall between the Mexico U.S. border: “Mexicans, put on these sunglasses so your swollen eyes can’t be seen during tomorrow’s building of the wall.”

Sergio Perez

While racially insensitive tweets can likely be found with the ranks of fans from every sport, this one emanated from the sunglass brand Hawkers (@HawkersMX), which sponsors Mexican Formula One driver Sergio Perez. The tweet cost them their sponsorship, with Perez releasing this statement: “What a bad commentary. Today I am ending my relations with @HawkerMX. “I will never let anyone laugh at my country.”
Adding insult to injury, the Hawker’s brand was in the process of manufacturing near 20,000 sponsored sunglasses with Sergio’s name printed on them, w
hen Sergio decided to part ways. (Yahoo Sports)

Public controversy that leads to a loss in sponsorship for the athlete is nothing new: Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, and Ryan Lochte captured much of this attention in recent years. But how many athletes or rights holders can you recall firing their sponsor for breaking morals clauses? Can you think of any?

Performance Research founders Jed Pearsall and Bill Doyle discussed issues similar to these at IEG’s 31st Annual Sponsorship Conference
in 2014,  Taking a Stand– How Consumers React When Sponsorship Turns Into Criticism And Controversy. Our main message: Sponsors and rights holders should be never afraid to take a stand for what’s right.
To be successful, sponsorships must be authentic partnerships with shared goals and values. Sergio Perez’s separation from Hawkers sends the right message, and in an industry that is focused on big money deals, places human values as the higher currency.

 

 

Sources:

http://fortune.com/2016/08/23/ryan-lochte-loses-all-sponsors/

https://ca.sports.yahoo.com/news/perez-dumps-sponsor-trump-elected-144450191–f1.html

https://blog.performanceresearch.com/2016/11/05/nascars-reed-sorensons-toyota-carrying-trump-pence-paint-scheme-this-weekend-good-or-bad-for-associate-sponsors/

Photo: https://s3.amazonaws.com/SPF1/public_html-2/wblob/53F5A533362CC9/13E/D8ED/exZ5mB5O8f4pLoy0wrVJiw/Sergio-P_rez-Feel-the-Force.jpg

 

 

 

 

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What Happened?

What the election polls this year say about market research, sports, and the way we make decisions.

 

Here we are. The election results are in and a new Commander in Chief (like him or not) has been chosen. Donald Trump not only shocked the world, but defied the predictions of almost every political poll.

While debates will continue about how Trump won the presidency, the question for those of us who live in the world of market research is not so much, “Did Trump defy the odds of probability?”, but rather our questions is: “Did the combined sciences of sampling, big data, and algorithms cover-up some hidden truths behind these polls? And more to our industry, “Are we too often making the same mistake in sports and sponsorship research?”

i-voted-todayWell, there are a multitude of explanations for the election predictions, including under-sampling, the heavy reliance on irrelevant data, flawed election models, and not enough differentiation between data collecting techniques. Another failing could be silent Trump supporters who were simply not honest with pollsters about who they were planning on voting for. (Years ago Performance Research had similar hurdles surveying WWE fans by phone, many of whom were “in the closet” so to speak about their attachment to the sport.)

More than 50 years ago a sociology professor named William Bruce Cameron published an article in the bulletin of American Association of University Professors titled “The Elements of Statistical Confusion”, and wrote, “It would be nice if all of the data which sociologists require could be enumerated because then we could run them through IBM machines and draw charts as the economists do. However, not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Cameron would probably be annoyed that this quote is more often misattributed to Albert Einstein, but he would probably laugh at how adeptly his statement applies to the recent election, and possibly intrigued that we should apply the same thinking to sponsorship research.

Performance Research VP Bill Doyle was asked in late August to comment on a news story about Trump’s rise in popularity, and if parallels can be made to sports audiences that many elitist onlookers simply don’t understand- NASCAR, UFC, and WWE to name a few. Bill’s response was: “we don’t look solely at demographic similarities that build audiences for specific sports, but rather we dig for the emotional connection that ties fans together. Once you find those emotional triggers and passion points, the demographic data tends to take a back seat.”

That same point was made the day after the election by Tom O’Toole, former CMO of United Airlines, addressing the 2016 Momentum Sports Marketing Symposium “What can the sports industry learn from last night’s outcome? Marketing in the sports industry is driven by information, but it is also driven by passion and identity. And relying entirely on the information … while not fully taking into account the passion and identity can lead to very unexpected outcomes.” At the same conference, Todd Kline, Senior VP of the Miami Dolphins said, “Much like we have fans, these candidates do, too. You can never underestimate the passion fans have for you or for a candidate.”

Filmmaker Michael Moore got it right last July, writing, “In most elections, it’s hard to get even 50% to turn out to vote. Who is going to have the most motivated, most inspired voters show up to vote? You know the answer to this question. Who’s the candidate with the most rabid supporters? Whose crazed fans are going to be up at 5 AM on Election Day, kicking ass all day long, all the way until the last polling place has closed, making sure every Tom, Dick and Harry (and Bob and Joe and Billy Bob and Billy Joe and Billy Bob Joe) has cast his ballot.” Just like sports, passion in politics is contagious.

At Performance Research, the core of our sponsorship research has always been on the influence of passion. Survey numbers give us quick answers to simple questions, but quantitative surveys by themselves cannot tap into the emotional content and strength of conviction that decisions are interlaced with.

We share the excitement over big data analytics and advanced modeling in sports and sponsorship research, but we also believe in providing a balance between quantitative and qualitative data to create the most accurate report we can offer.

A November 10th New York Times article, “How Data Failed Us in Calling an Election”, quotes Thomas E. Mann, an election expert at the Brookings Institute: “If we could go back to the world of reporting being about the candidates and the parties and the issues at stake instead of the incessant coverage of every little blip in the polls, we would all be better off. They are addictive, and it takes the eye off the ball.”

And maybe that’s the tie between the election, sports marketing research, and the way we make decisions: Don’t ever take your eye off the ball.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/10/upshot/why-trump-won-working-class-whites.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/10/technology/the-data-said-clinton-would-win-why-you-shouldnt-have-believed-it.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/2016/11/09/pollsters-donald-trump-hillary-clinton-2016-presidential-election/93523012/

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/election-day-2016-update-clinton-trump-230919

http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/first-read-how-rural-america-fueled-trump-s-win-n681316

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/election-day-2016-update-clinton-trump-230919

http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/first-read-how-rural-america-fueled-trump-s-win-n681316

http://michaelmoore.com/trumpwillwin/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NASCAR’s Reed Sorenson’s Toyota carrying Trump / Pence paint scheme this weekend. Good or Bad for Associate Sponsors?

As the 2016 presidential election approaches, both presidential candidates are getting in some last minute campaigning. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Vice President hopeful Mike Pence will be featured on Reed Sorenson’s Toyota Camry for NASCAR’s Texas 500 Sunday, November 6.

The Trump Pence Logo will appear on the Hood of Sorenson’s number 55 Camry, the sides, and on the trunk. While not the first time a political candidate utilized NASCAR’s famously loyal fan-base to promote themselves, but it might be the most polarizing. Linking with this political statement like it or not, will be a variety of sponsors on the car, or associated with the team for most other races including: Goodyear Tires, Mobil 1, Sherman Williams, Mennen Speed Stick, Hyatt Hotels, Mobil 1, and Toyota.

trump

As a sponsor of Sorenson, could sharing space with the Trump/ Pence ticket be controversial for the other brands associated with this team? A presidential candidate will undoubtedly have their supporters, but what about the opposition supporters? Should a brand avoid this type of partisanship and consider opting out of their sponsorship commitment for the Texas 500 to avoid potential controversy?

In another sport, the opposite is happening as a controversy is boiling over regarding an LPGA tournament scheduled to take place at a Trump-owned golf course which may result in a players’ boycott.

Performance Research is one of the world’s leaders in sponsorship research and analysis and has spent years helping sponsors and properties navigate just this type of situation. Check out our presentation at IEG’s 31st Annual Sponsorship Conference in 2014 seen here: Taking a Stand– How Consumers React When Sponsorship Turns Into Criticism And Controversy

 

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Rio Got a Bad Rap

After spending the two weeks in Rio, traveling to and from venues, attending several events, and visiting all of the different Olympic regions, we can say, unequivocally, that Rio’s troubles were as overblown as Ryan Lochte’s fabricated robbery account. We at Performance Research deal in facts and direct observations, not media hype or hearsay.

So, what did we experience? An Olympics very much like previous games, but with a Brazilian personality (as it should be). Were there some hiccups?  Of course. But, nothing out of the ordinary and none as severe or as scary as you’ve probably heard about. This has been my (Bill Doyle, Co-Founder) 8th Olympic games, and Performance Research Co–Founder Jed Pearsall’s 15th, dating all the way back to Lake Placid in 1980. So, we’ve seen it all. Below is a recap of our observations from Rio:

  • Zika and Dirty Water: Zika is clearly a terrible virus with significant effects, carried by a mosquito. But, did it mean that the whole place was infested? While we applied a repellant each day as a precaution, not once did we see or even experience any mosquitos. Just as Lyme disease, carried by deer ticks in New England is a terrible infliction, we could not imagine anyone telling loved ones to avoid New England at all cost because we have disease spreading ticks. For certain people (expecting mothers), I can see the concern, but otherwise the whole craziness appeared to be way overblown. As for the polluted water, it surely was a concern in certain areas. But, after better understanding the geography we realized that those areas were limited to a closed reservoir and a specific section of a protected bay, very close to the city center. However, the ocean waves along the beautiful beaches were as clean and clear as any we’ve seen and this is where much of the sailing took place.
  • Unfinished Venues: We did not experience any unfinished venues. All had seats, all were new or renovated, all had concessions, and better than most US venues, all had clean and available bathrooms. There were no hanging wires or gushing plumbing anywhere to be seen. The overall Olympic park had a brand new, “just opened” feel about it with only a few shortcuts noticeable here or there (for example, the walkways were entirely made from pavers, with some a little loose under-foot) but nothing we could find that would give the impression that they were not complete and ready to go.
  • Rampant Crime: I think the media needs to take a deep breath and look at the facts. Face it, Rio is a city of 6.2 million people. That’s over twice as many people as Houston and Chicago, a third more than LA, and nearly the size of New York. Of course in any city this large, there are good and bad parts of town. Crime happens every day throughout all of these cities. But, we never saw or experienced any of it. Not once did we feel unsafe or insecure. The Olympic park was actually in an area that most Americans would consider the suburbs: at the end of a street lined with car dealerships, shopping malls, and a huge multiplex movie theater. Think US1 in Aventura Florida, not downtown Miami.

However, Copacabana and Ipanema are beach front urban areas with very much the same look and feel as Waikiki in Honolulu. While the petty crimes reported on those Rio beaches are quite common, nothing seemed out of the ordinary for an urban area such as this. We heard a few reports of international tourists leaving their back-packs unattended, and just like anywhere else in the world, somebody swiped them – no different than in the US.

This is where I think Rio was getting undeservedly slammed the most, and why Lochte’s false account struck such a nerve with Brazilians. Imagine for a moment that these games were awarded to Chicago, with their current record breaking murder rates. The world-wide headlines would read: “Don’t travel to Chicago, they are murdering people in the streets!” Is this fair? Would you assume you were in grave danger by shopping on the Miracle Mile, jogging by the lake, or attending an event in Soldier Field? No. But that was what was happening to Rio. Can bad things happen? Of course, but just like Ryan Lochte’s fabricated story, it seemed all way over blown with the serious crimes taking place in areas not anywhere near where an Olympic visitor would travel.

  • Long lines: These claims were absolutely false. We went to 11 different events, including high profile swimming, gymnastics and beach volleyball. Only once (at the Equestrian center) did we wait more than 3 minutes in any security or ticket line. However, even that 20 minute wait went by fast as a Brazilian military band entertained the crowd with a pop-up concert.
  • Concession food shortages: Are American reporters getting just a bit spoiled with our high end cuisine and ample designer food choices that populate our sports venues of late? It is my only explanation for these accounts. Rio’s Olympic venues had more than enough concessions, but they were limited to a small variety of chips, burgers, ice pops, and mini-pizzas. Not gourmet, but nobody was going to starve. There was one oddity we couldn’t grasp however. When ordering any food or drinks, the procedure is to first stand in a line to pay for the items, then take the order receipt “tickets” to the accompanying counter to again wait in a separate line to redeem these tickets for the actual items. You had to go through this process even for a simple item like bottled water or Coca-Cola. Odd, but it is apparently how they do things in Brazil. Chalk that up to local culture.
  • Traffic and transportation issues: The BRT and Olympic venue transportation worked like clockwork for us. We purchased an unlimited weekly pass for about $50US, and, once we figured out the system, never waited more than 2-3 minutes for a bus or train. They created unique closed off lanes for these Olympic busses that allowed them to race at top speed past any traffic and deliver us right to the venues. Coming from “drive ourselves” dyed-in-the-wool car renters, getting us to use and admit the public transit system was pretty good is a rarity. But, even we gave up the keys and embraced the bus transport system. Compared to Atlanta, that had huge lines and way over-crowded trains, Rio was a breeze.
  • Empty seats in stands: Nothing new. This happens at every Olympic games. Remember London? Rio actually did a few things better than any games we’ve attended. They had a centralized ticket website, along with several ticketing locations, continually updated where tickets turned in by sponsors or other agencies could easily be re-sold at face value. As well, people with extra tickets were selling them out in the open, not petrified of arrest like in Beijing or London. Given that, this was, by far, the best managed ticketing program we’ve ever experienced.

https://ingressos.rio2016.com/rio2016.html?affiliate=OGF&doc=search&fun=search&action=filter

As for the venues, the ushers were very relaxed about seat swapping. So if your seat was up in the rafters, and there were empties down close (typically unoccupied sponsor reserved seats), they let people fill in wherever they wanted and only moved you if the rightful seat-holder arrived. Given that, what you were noticing on TV being empty was most likely the upper decks of any venue because people were all filtering down into the better seats.

After London we pleaded, “When will somebody realize that there needs to be an efficient secondary ticketing system in place to re-sell unclaimed or unused tickets?” It seems Rio figured it out pretty well.

https://ingressos.rio2016.com/rio2016.html?affiliate=OGF&language=en&doc=feature/contentDetail&cid=info/returns

Now we ask, “When will an Olympic organizer figure out what we termed “confetti” seats, of all different random colors – making it impossible for television audiences to differentiate between occupied and unoccupied seats?”  Some day.  (see example)

http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/Articles/2016/02/Top-10-New-Additions-at-DAYTONA.aspx

  • Military-like security: While we did see a few soldiers around venue entrances with machine guns, it was far fewer and far less ubiquitous than most other Olympics. We recall Barcelona teaming with camo wearing, gun toting security forces everywhere, even placing tanks right out front, ready to attack any threat to an Olympic venue. We saw very little of this, and only outside of the Equestrian venue, located across the street from a military base, was there an obvious military-like presence.
  • The Brazilian people: We found our hosts to be VERY friendly and accommodating. Their exuberance in the stands was infectious – at times we found ourselves caught up in the moment and rooting for Brazilian athletes along with them. This enthusiasm was however, at times, a bit unsportsmanlike as they tended to boo and jeer opponents almost as heartily as they supported their own. Also, it was surprising to us how few spoke English, but that is our problem – not theirs. How many American’s do you know who speak a second language, let alone Portuguese? Given that, I would have liked to have seen a bit more international symbols on signage for foreign visitors such as ourselves.

Was everything perfect?  No. We saw many opportunities for improvement.

The transit system, while efficient, was labeled by the names of the parts of the city, as opposed to an Olympic venue or sport symbol. So figuring out which stop correlated to which sport venue from the dizzying transit maps, for example, took some concentrated effort. But, we only missed our stop once, so not a terrible foul.

Brazil 1

We found the Olympic Park to be somewhat lacking in excitement or energy. Unlike London which was teaming with street performers (mostly thanks to Coca-Cola), music, sponsor venues, and huge screens showing all the action, Rio’s was simply a large closed in area that contained several sports venues. There were concession carts, a souvenir mega-store, a few sponsor activations, and some directional signage, but not much else. Even locals we attended with were disappointed by the lack of a “festive” atmosphere at Olympic Park.

Brazil 2

We later learned that instead, Rio created Boulevard Olimpico down-town, away from the sports venues. This area featured all of the sponsor activations and festive atmosphere one would expect, aimed primarily at the home market as a way to share the Olympic experience with everyone, regardless of whether they held an event ticket or not.  http://www.boulevard-olimpico.com/?lang=en  This area was jam packed every day, and really acted as the party central / theme-park area for these games. It just wasn’t publicized very well to visitors as we saw no promotions or mentions of it anywhere we visited.

Every Olympic Games we’ve attended has had its own personality. Some overtly commercialized (LA and Atlanta), some romantically quaint (Lake Placid and Lillehammer), some feeling very “designer – high end” (Beijing and London) and some feeling very industrial (Nagano). In the end, each were unique in their own way.

For Brazil we will remember the proud and welcoming people, the immense enthusiasm and energy in the stands, and while their budgets couldn’t match Beijing’s or London’s exorbitant spending, we always got the feeling that these Olympic hosts were giving it their very best to ensure visitors had a great experience in their country.

To the people of Rio, we apologize for Ryan Lochte and the US media. It appears they both have a flair for negativity and dramatic embellishment.

Regardless of what they reported, we know the truth and will most definitely return.

Thank you Rio

Brazil 5

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Hey, College Football Sponsors: Read the Signs

2014-0927-Cincinnati-signal-sign-X158733_TK1_1109

College Football has developed its own language.  Although you won’t find Rosetta Stone College Football hitting stores any time soon, it is indeed real.  This language manifests itself in the form of pictures and symbols many top programs use for increasingly efficient sideline communication.

Most of you have probably seen these images laminated on oversized poster boards during college football broadcasts.  Why does the the sideline look like a high school science fair, you ask?

Teams use the process of visual association with everything from presidents and pop stars to iPhone emojis as a means to facilitate player-coach communication.  More specifically, players see a coach hold up a series of meaningful images above their head and quickly translate the sequence into the next play to be run.  This system allows offenses to operate at a much higher rate than traditional methods.

The premise is simple, yet relatively new.  Then-Oregon head coach Chip Kelley was an early adopter in 2010 and used the system to run plays in quicker succession than any other program in history.  Given their widespread use in today’s college football landscape, the competitive advantages of play cards are clear.  Not so obvious, however, is the residual sponsorship potential for both brands and rights holders alike.

Pictures and symbols are equally effective at communicating information and evoking emotion.  Football programs use images that resonate with their 19-year-old players to operate more efficiently.  Brands leverage corporate logos to symbolize stories and experiences they cultivate with consumers.

Wouldn’t it make sense for brands to leverage this coaching innovation as a way to align with the passionate, interactive fans that support college football?  Brands and personalities already exist on these play-call signs without consent.  Why not regain control of your likeness and use it to create strategic partnerships with schools?

While these oversized play-call signs take up valuable real estate on stadium sidelines and television broadcasts, simple logo placement is not enough to engage today’s hyper-connected, hyper-opinionated fan.  Sponsorship makes brands champions when it enhances personal experiences for the audience.  Creative partnerships such as this one hold the requisite potential for powerful storytelling.

Imagine your Ohio State University Buckeyes throw a game-winning touchdown pass to win the Big 10 Championship Game.  In the postgame press conference, head coach Urban Meyer is asked to describe that play.  His response, “I turned to my guys and signaled in Buckeye 52 Allstate.  Luckily we were in good hands with our quarterback and receiver on that one.”  #AllstateGoodHands is a lock to trend worldwide in this scenario.

Consider the possibilities as you enjoy college football bowl season this Holiday – and keep an eye out for those wacky play cards.  You never know who, or what, you may find.

Photo: Al Tielemans, Sports Illustrated

 

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Sacramento Kings: Changing their Brand through Technology

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Have you ever imagined watching a sports game through the eyes of the player, or better yet, a team’s mascot?
That futuristic idea is becoming a reality in sporting events as the Sacramento Kings lead the way in integrating technology into sports. Piggy backing on last week’s eSports post, the Kings are also personifying the seismic shift in the way that sports and live events will be seen and promoted for the future. The NFL, MLB, and NBA are all looking towards the future both with consumer wearables and tech innovations. Improving the fan experience and consumer insights is at the forefront of this growing trend of tech-driven sports. It also means a new medium through which teams, players and sports can increase brand awareness and create value.
So how is the Kings’ owner Vivek Ranadive changing the King’s global brand and influence through wearables and his NBA 3.0 philosophy? What does this initiative mean for professional sports and brands?
Over a decade ago, the Kings franchise was the hot ticket in the western conference, but soon fans lost interest. Despite a period of dwindling fans, the franchise has been at the forefront of sports technology beginning in 2007 as the first NBA team on Twitter and having a YouTube channel with more than 18 million views since 2006. This was just the start to their tech boom when Ranadive acquired the Kings Franchise in 2013 and made groundbreaking changes to the future of the Franchise’s culture and direction. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Ranadive is the founder of the real-time data processing software maker TIBCO! Since his leadership, the Kings have partnered with Bitcoin, Uber, Google Glass and TIBCO’s data analysis software, among others. With each of these adoptions, the Kings move closer to putting their fan’s interests first and increasing their reach.
This forward thinking approach is increasing the Kings’ audience and fan experience, but also changing the way we will view sports in the future and how data can improve athlete’s performance. The King’s innovative use of Google Glass for example could change the way sponsors approach athletes with advanced analysis and through a real-life view. This different perspective offers immense opportunity to be added for sponsorships globally, especially with the growing player-spectator relationship. The fan experience is also expanding globally with the King’s app that includes mobile ticketing functions, high speed messaging, and location based offers. With further data analysis, the Kings will be able to quantify their understanding and insight of fans in order to make better decisions for the future of the team, the game, and their brand in the NBA.
With a projected market of 285 million wearables by 2017, sports and technology are moving to the future together. Teams like the Sacramento Kings have left the “old school” of sports and are leading the way in how we view professional sports both on and off the screen. By maximizing social networking, implementing virtual currency, adopting tech innovations, and increasing the fan experience and medium of interaction, sports can create a global brand and reach through technology like never before.

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A Press Release

Readers, we’re posting a recent Performance Research press release below. We’re all excited to analyze this weekend’s Daytona 500!

Listening To the Fans: Performance Research Announces Groundbreaking Dive into the Conversations Posted From the Grounds of Daytona International Speedway

Performance Research, the world’s leader in sponsorship evaluation, will be introducing EVsdrop, its groundbreaking geo-location based social media analysis platform to collect and monitor all public posts originating from the Daytona 500.

While other social media analytics tools capture the national conversation solely based on keywords and hashtags, the social media insights Performance Research provides will be derived from posts specifically originating from those within the confines of Daytona International Speedway for this weekend’s Great American Race. Never before has this level of analysis been available.

The EVsdrop analysis will collect posts, geographically located within the grounds, in real-time, and will include all social media activity across multiple platforms – regardless of hashtags or language used. Within hours, we will understand which sponsors are dominating the conversations and which are being ignored. We’ll also be providing unprecedented insights into fans’, teams’, and analysts’ immediate reactions to all of the on-site activations and operational issues in addition to all of the race action surrounding the events of the weekend.

For more information on this service, or access to this unique stream of data, (including any requests to receive social media data tailored for your specific needs), please contact Julia at Performance Research before Sunday: EVsdrop@performanceresearch.com.

Insights and analysis from this unique project will be posted throughout the weekend, including a wrap-up following the conclusion of the race.

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