What’s in it for a car dealer to get into racing?
Few organizations are better qualified to answer that question than Pfaff Motorsports.
Since bringing its racing operations in-house in 2014, the team has won seven championships, including last year’s IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, an overall category win in the continent’s top sports car racing series. It’s also won at the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring, and last weekend the team won again, this time in Canada’s first race at IMSA’s first race in three years at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, making a triumphant return to Canada.
That’s not bad at all for a flock of Canucks based out of Vaughan, Ont., north of Toronto.
The race team keeps on winning, but it still begs the question: Why would a dealership group invest in all this? A team can win every race it can get, but does that mean the dealers behind the arrangement will sell another car? After all, as the old saying goes, the best way to end up with a small fortune in racing is to start with a big one.
Lawrence Yap, creative director and all-around racing advocate for Pfaff Automotive Partners, says he has identified at least five ways that Pfaff’s involvement in motorsport has helped it in its day-to-day operations.
This is one of the most important factors, Yap says. Pfaff Automotive Partners was purchased by US automotive retailer Lithia & Driveway in 2021, but Pfaff dealers still operate under the same banner with locations in southern Ontario. Plus, some group employees are still working from home, which means that teams that work together don’t always see each other as often as they used to.
Steering a major racing team gives everyone in Pfaff something to rally behind. Last weekend, around 300 group employees were present at Canada Tire Motorsport Park to watch as the team registered its first win on Canadian soil.
For Pfaff dealers, the team also acts as a recruitment tool. Technicians working on the team’s cars during the race weekend also have day jobs at the Pfaff dealership. Yap says that shooting the race team’s high-stakes, fast-paced environment is the ticket to attracting powered technicians to Pfaff’s service departments. The fact that they bring the lessons home and apply them to their daily work is a bonus. And potential employees are attracted to other areas of the business as well.
“When I was at that point in my career where I was looking [dealership roles] And I had a few options, [I noticed] These guys are deep into racing, and I love that,” Yap says. “It’s almost a cultural sort of thing. All you can say is it’s probably pretty competitive, the pace is probably pretty high, that sort of thing has room to grow.”
There’s also a beneficial marketing aspect to Pfaff’s motorsport partnership, says Yap. The Plaid Porsche has earned a strong fanbase throughout North America, and through a partnership with local racing memorabilia shop Toronto Motorsports, the costume is one of its own, with fans being able to purchase die-hard models and merchandise either trackside or online. unit has been created. As a result of this and other initiatives, Yap says that consumers in Canada associate the Pfaff name directly with the Porsche brand.
Speaking of Porsche, it’s a manufacturer that takes pride in racing, and a dealership’s investment in the sport doesn’t go unnoticed: Yap says Pfaff’s racing programs have strengthened its relationship with Porsche and other brands. has deepened.
“We are racing a Porsche, but we also support customers with McLaren race cars and BMW race cars,” Yap says. “The fact that you are investing in racing is a sign to these brands that you are committed to them at the highest level.”
Lastly, leading the team creates opportunities for Pfaff to deepen its relationships with its business partners. For example, Motul sponsors the race team, and the dealership group puts Motul oil in their service departments. C17 Media supports the team, and is also asked to produce wraps for race cars and trailers, and supply print services to the Pfaff Group. And thanks to Hagerty’s partnership with the team, Pfaff customers are easily connected to Hagerty’s car insurance, a service that can be difficult to find for high-value vehicles sold at Pfaff dealerships.
As it turns out, that old adage about winning on Sunday and selling on Monday still rings true. These days, it just takes on a different shape.