SmartStop Teams Up IndyCar Team

Posted by Brad Hadfield on May 6, 2023 12:00:00 AM

When it comes to promoting the SmartStop brand, Vice President of Marketing Rhonda Williams is always looking to stay ahead of the curve – literally.

“We sponsor a number of IndyCar races and get huge billboards on the tracks at the hard turns that people keep an eye on,” says Williams. That placement happened to work to the self-storage company’s advantage, when race cars rounding one of the corners collided at a recent IndyCar Series held on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. 

“Thankfully, and most importantly, no one was hurt,” Williams confirms. “Of course, due to the spectacle, the media replayed it over and over again across all outlets. And there was our billboard right there in the background, prominently displayed each time. Talk about achieving your advertising ROI in just seconds.”

This isn’t the company’s first foray into sponsorships. SmartStop, which owns or manages a portfolio of more than 180 operating properties in 22 states and Canada, comprising approximately 127,000 units and 14 million rentable square feet, has been making them part of their marketing strategy for years. 

The company often sponsors individual athletes across many sports, including BMX racers, MMA fighters, and boxers, and has an eight-year relationship with the Mississauga Steelheads, a junior league Canadian hockey team whose players have NHL aspirations. “We have a custom, SmartStop-wrapped Zamboni that gets a lot of attention,” Williams says.

SmartStop Makes Its Mark In Motorsports

Smartstop carSmartStop’s latest endeavor making headlines is its sponsorship of 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner and 2004 IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan. The Brazilian motorsports racing legend will be competing in the 107th Indianapolis 500 on May 28, 2023, behind the wheel of the No. 6 SmartStop Arrow McLaren Chevrolet. 

Although SmartStop has been involved with motorsports in the past, sponsoring a car in the Toronto Grand Prix, things really kicked into high gear in 2022. At the time, motorcar racing was exploding, with the Netflix documentary series “Drive to Survive” earning the sport a whole new generation of fans. SmartStop CEO H. Michael Schwartz saw an opportunity and pursued the idea of not just sponsoring a single car but being a part of a team. 

“That’s when we partnered with the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team,” Williams recalls. “They have such a rich history, and we love the story of Bruce McLaren, who started out as a bit of an underdog himself but wound up building McLaren into what it is today.”

Tony Kanaan’s Last Lap

tony kanaan

The May 28, 2023, Indy 500 will mark Kanaan’s final race before retirement, something he was expected to do in 2020. However, COVID precautions at the time meant empty stadiums, and Williams says Kanaan wanted to make his final lap one for the fans. “He knows how important his fans are, and he wanted them to be able to be there for his swan song,” says Williams.

Prior to the announcement, Arrow McLaren reached out to SmartStop and asked if they’d like to sponsor Kanaan’s last race, and their answer was a resounding yes. “He’s been amazing to work with,” Williams says. “Besides being a legend in the sport, Tony is a down-to-earth guy with great stories and a terrific sense of humor. We’re proud to be associated with him and have our name on his car.”

“SmartStop Self Storage is committed to supporting excellence, and Tony and the Arrow McLaren team exemplify the drive and determination needed to succeed at the highest level,” adds Schwartz. “We can’t wait to see what they will accomplish together on the track, and we are honored to be a part of this historic event.”

Why Sponsorships Work For SmartStop 

Sponsorships have become a key marketing strategy for SmartStop. Williams says that it is a unique way for the brand to connect with communities and get their name in front of diverse audiences that are extremely loyal to the sports they follow.

“When Team Arrow McLaren or Tony Kanaan take to Twitter and tag us or highlight our name on the car, nearly 50,000 people are seeing it,” Williams says. “And then at the events, we’re talking about up to 250,000 people in seats.”

Echoing Schwartz, Williams says that while “likes” are great, SmartStop loves to support inspirational individuals. In 2014, the company sponsored Greg Paul as he climbed the summit of Mount Everest, and in 2018 they sponsored American cyclist and Olympic hopeful Shane Kline. 

“We like to team up with people who may not yet be at the top but are on their way there,” says Williams. “These people have a dream but may not have the financial backing they need, whether it’s for training, travel, gear, etc. SmartStop provides the support they need to get there, and then we’re able to go along on their journey with them.” 

Next up? SmartStop will be sponsoring a young man from Toronto who will be piloting a single-prop plane around the world to raise funds for a nonprofit. “We can’t wait to help his dreams take flight,” says Williams. 

Brad Hadfield is the news writer and web manager for Modern Storage Media.

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