Ozzie Olson and Jim Chapman Take The Business World Trackside
On November 26, 1967 at the Rex Mays 300 in Riverside, CA, conditions aligned perfectly for the launch of big business promotion deep into top end auto racing. The vision and business intuitions of Oscar Olson, the promotional expertise of James Chapman, and a storybook winning finish by Dan Gurney in an Olsonite Eagle served to ignite a blaze which has not yet stopped burning in the business and racing worlds. Modern day, trackside, business promotion had at that moment been inaugurated.
From the start of Ozzie Olson’s race involvement just a few weeks before, Olson enlisted the services of friend and fellow Detroiter James P. Chapman as his promotional strategist. Chapman immediately dove headlong into the assignment to a degree which no one had before. At Olson’s very first race, James Chapman set up an elaborate entertainment center on one of the turns at Riverside in which to host Olsonite customers and guests. Dan Gurney would be driving the newly named “Olsonite Eagle” in the 300 mile event. Food, refreshments, racing images carved in ice, and celebrity appearances were all part of the mix.
As the race unfolded, Gurney suffered a flat tire late and was forced to pit. With just 20 laps remaining, Gurney emerged from the pits nearly 30 seconds behind and embarked on an all-out chase to catch the lead cars. On the final lap, Gurney and the Olsonite Eagle took the lead to win the race. The Olsonite tent erupted in celebration, solidifying the Olsonite Sponorship for the next 7 years and immediately raising the corporate visibility of Olsonite.
Elsewhere in this web page, you will find a link taking you to James Chapman’s biography. This biography was read as Chapman was presented the “Award of Excellence in Motorsports Media Relations.” In the biography, you will find details of his career, his friendship with baseball great Babe Ruth, as well as information regarding the Olsonite and many other promotional involvements.
Chapman's Son, Jim Chapman, Ozzie Olson
"Ozzie surpasses the traditional auto racing hamburger and hot dog image by bringing right to the trackside a banquet spread of the unlikely combination of oysters on the half shell and Alaskan King Crab."
-Motor Trend / Nov 1969
MOTOR TREND | NOV 1969
"As Gurney once remarked. “Being inside his hospitality tent at Riverside Raceway is like having a race run right through your living room. The tent is trackside, with fine foods, refreshments and a warmth of welcome heretofore unknown to auto racing”