GM Official Crashes Race Pace Car, Mini Gets Creative With Sponsorship

This past weekend was the Detroit Grand Prix and the city was abuzz with talk about the big race.  Chevrolet has been the sponsor for many years and this year was no different, except the automaker got some unexpected publicity.

The Corvette ZR1 pace car, driven by GM executive Mark Reuss, spun at the start of its first lap and struck a portion of the wall of the raceway. A backup pace car was at the ready, but the crash delayed the start of the race. 

Reuss, who was not injured (physically anyway), leads the design, engineering, safety, quality, research and development, advanced vehicle technology and program management of General Motors. He was understandably embarrassed and apologetic and took to Facebook to try to make amends. 

"I want to thank you all for your well wishes today,” he wrote. “I am ok. I have driven this course many many many times. I have paced this race in the wet, cold, hot, and calm. On Z06's, Grand Sports, and other things. It is never a casual thing for me, but an honor to be asked. Today I let down my friends, my family, Indycar, our city and my company. Sorry does not describe it. I want to thank our engineers for providing me the safety I know is the best in the world.”

Automakers sponsoring races and race car drivers is pretty common. Now that summer is officially here, concert sponsorships by automakers are also frequently seen. Mini USA is taking a more creative approach with a different type of music-related marketing.

Sing for Hope Pianos are coming back to the streets of New York City. From June 4-24, 51 Sing for Hope Pianos will be made available for anyone to play in parks, public spaces, and other high-traffic locations across all five boroughs.

The nonprofit is teaming with Mini USA for #DrivingHope, a partnership motivated by their shared passion for bringing creativity to communities. The automaker is the title sponsor of the Sing for Hope Pianos and has created a one-of-a-kind piano on wheels – the #MINIPiano. This 51st piano is within a specially designed and modified Mini Countryman that has been outfitted with a keyboard, sound system, and brightly colored exterior.

Summer is typically when automakers use music to attract consumers to their brands, usually by sponsoring music festivals and concert tours, notes Autotrader Executive Analyst Michelle Krebs.

“Mini has opted a more grassroots approach by taking music to the streets,” she tells MediaPost.

The official unveiling of all the 2018 Sing for Hope Pianos, including the #MINIPiano, took place Monday. All 50 of the Sing for Hope Pianos were played simultaneously by pianists in a mass unison performance of Bach’s Minuet in G.

“Mini wants to leverage its creativity to enhance city life, and we are excited to amplify the great work that Sing for Hope is doing by expanding the reach of music throughout the five boroughs via the #MINIPiano,” said said Lee Nadler, regional marketing manager, for Mini USA in a release. 

While all Sing for Hope Pianos are placed on the streets of NYC, the mobile #MINIPiano will broaden the reach of Sing for Hope’s mission of bringing art to all by, quite literally, bringing music right to people’s doorsteps.

The Sing for Hope Pianos will be available for anyone to play at high traffic locations throughout the five boroughs. A full list of locations will be available at and on the Sing for Hope Pianos app. 

The 51 pianos will serve 15,000 New York City students annually after the pianos are delivered to their permanent homes at “Citizen Artist Schools.”

In addition to the Sing for Hope Pianos app, more about the #MINIPiano can be found at The automaker created a 30-second video to promote the sponsorship, because after all, events are fleeting but video is forever.

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