By: Robin Angle
Follow me on @Twitter @rangle22
When you think of NASCAR, what do you think of? There are so many moving parts to the operation. It’s a business, a family, a race, an investment. For everything to work it takes dreams, hard work, dedication, devotion, solid relationships and a strong family. Bill France Sr. and his family was no stranger to any of this as he dove head first into building the sport of NASCAR. As a business owner/ NASCAR sponsor it would only make sense for these attributes to be a focus as well.
Tom and Teresa (TJ) Keen know parts. Tom’s parents were in the parts business, and he followed along in the same industry but took a different path. He was a successful insurance adjuster that put his past parts knowledge to work as a tool to excel for years. TJ, his wife loved cars too. But, her love wasn’t the parts, but racing. As a matter of fact she is an “old-school” die-hard fan. She loves the hard nose racing that many of the families of NASCAR built the sport on. Dale Sr. “The Intimidator” was her guy. Per Jennifer Weaver, the head of Public Relations for Keen Parts (CorvetteParts.net) there are some awesome stories out there of TJ and Dale Sr, Dale Jr and Jeffrey Earnhardt. Hopefully, we can delve into that later, Mrs. Keen- the fans would love to know! With their love of cars, The Keen’s decided to jump into the family business, and it was an easy choice. Since 1953, Keen Parts in Ohio has been in the family. Reproduction parts are what they are known for. While “corvette parts is all they do,” they have prided themselves on building great relationships with other vendors/makers. They do have to be cognizant of their relationship with GM, but as many of you know they do sponsor a Ford too!
As a sign of the times, businesses must grow and expand to compete. When it was time to amp up their operations, more marketing and advertising was a must. Social media is a great avenue for this, but better yet, why not venture off into an industry that you are already a part of. As fate, would have it a marketing gal from ML Motorsports was calling a roofing company about sponsorship but misdialed and reached Keen Parts and wound up speaking with Tom. It was a no-brainer to invest their advertising money into sponsorship. In 2011 the NASCAR itch began and the Keen’s sponsored the #70 ML Motorsports Nationwide Car. It hit the track for several races that year donning the Keen Parts (CorvetteParts.net) banner, and continued into the next year with sponsorship of Johanna Long in the same car. Business grew, and so did their sponsorship efforts. Any type of motorsports and any age competitor is fair game. Some drivers are young teens while others are older and more polished. But, the common denominators with all their drivers are dedication, hard work, and family oriented individuals. TJ often takes to social media to show some love for her boys. Interactions on these platforms are huge with the fans, and to interact with big-time sponsors is something out of the ordinary. The Keen’s are far from ordinary, they are just great folks and a joy to work for according to Jennifer. As it turns out their drivers are even following their accord and they too interact with the fans on social media as well. Here are some of their drivers and the teams they race for:
@JEarnhardt1 started with Keen Parts in the @JRMotorsports Camaro @RIRInsider in 2013; and as late as last year drove the @GoFasRacing32 Ford Fusion which @mattdracing will take over this 2017 season.
@TravisKvapil has been sponsored in the Camping World Truck Series for many races, and now the family legacy continues with the sponsorship of his highly talented and up and coming sons who run karts at the local dirt tracks, like @MillbridgeRacin. @CadenKvapil and @CarsonKvapil only won 53 events in 2016, I personally can’t wait to see what the 2017 season brings them along with the sponsors like @KeenParts. These young phenomes have the logo’d trailer and fire suits to showcase their sponsor. Moving on to other racers they have even decided to sponsor @ChadBoat in the @chilibowlnationals along with one of their distributors @billyboat98, the owner of @bbexhaust. And finally, their late model driver @markwertz55 a late model driver whom has proved to be a great ambassador for their brand and his sport.
Their sponsorship of athletes demands strong values and work ethic, and it’s also very similar to that of the France family and the dream of NASCAR years ago. Brand loyalty is huge in NASCAR Nation-it drives our fans. These folks not only are part of producing quality parts but more importantly building great racers. You should check them out @Twitter @KeenParts and @keenparts2 you won’t be disappointed.