Posted by: helldriversmovie | March 27, 2008

Where have all the sponsors gone?

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Many years ago, Hell Drivers were able to pack stadiums like Soldiers Field in Chicago to entertain spectators with the “Human Jack,”
“Human Battering Ram” and “The Barrel Wall” just to name a few.

Not only was this great family entertainment, but an incredible opportunity for sponsors to pitch their products. From car manufacturers to Sears Roebuck, everyone was working an angle to help sell their product.

Car manufacturers were excited to be part of the Hell Drivers show to showcase how durable their cars were. Ford, Chevrolet, Pontiac and Nash all had shows traveling around the United States.

Picture a car crashing through a brick wall! The crowd gasps and then the driver climbs out of the car and gives a friendly wave to the crowd to let you know he’s not dead.

Keep in mind he just performed the stunt in a shirt and tie while wearing a leather football helmet!

Lucky Lee Lott was best known for driving Nash automobiles through walls and barrels. He boasted that he’d totaled 17,981 cars in his career.

Not only did he drive Nash cars, but he also had Goodyear as a sponsor. “Every car, truck and motorcycle in the troupe is equipped with Goodyear tires and tubes” would be put into programs to be distributed to the fans.

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During the 1964-65 New York’s World Fair, Sears was selling the “Quick Release Auto Seat Belt.” The features of the seat belt were:

– Metal to metal buckle fastens or releases in just one second
– Laboratory tests prove complete belt assembly withstands over 6,000 lbs. crash load.
– Bolts securely to car floor . . . hardware and easy-to-follow installation instructions included.

On the side of the package it read “Hell Drivers” protect their lives with this belt!

The BFG Radial 990 tires “The tire that takes everything Tournament
Thrill-Drivers can hand it!” Phillips 66 bragged their tires could go through hell.

Hell Drivers were once used as a major advertising vehicle. What has happened in the last 40 years that Hell Drivers don’t have the same kind of pull that they used to?

Why don’t sponsors flock to the present day Hell Drivers?

Your thoughts?

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Responses

  1. Well, we all now after the invention of television, and the growth of radio – the live entertainment business took a big turn in the 1960’s. However, many companies continued to look at grass root advertising. Fortunately, many auto makers, tire companies, beer distributors, and auto part retail chains continued to involve their advertising dollar with auto thrill shows. It isn’t the fact that the companies are not looking for unqiue ways to market, it is the fact that many of the so called thrill show outifits performing today do not have the capabilites or the know how to obtain, maintain, and prolong an advertising relationship. The shows have become dirty, the personel have become unshaved and long haird, and the venues have not wanted many of them back on their fair grounds, much less pay them the full money because the show wasnt what they thought they were getting. So, without a route of 30 plus shows, and good looking equipment and people, and an empty grandstand, there isnt anything that a major sponsor wants to be associated with. I think, without a doubt, that this project (Hell Drivers: The Original Crash Test Dummies) exploits all that is wrong with the auto thrill show business has not even touched upon – wnor scratched the surface of what the thrill show business was all about. There will never be a golden hay day again if the business is represented this way to others.

    Yours Truly – Andy Guerriero – Entertainment Consultant & Thrill Show Veteren.

    • I don’t know , Andy mite be on to something here. The thrill show is still VERY big overseas. Here in the states all the ones (and I go to every one in a 50 mile range ) seem to be in such a hurry to get it over and move on that they don’t even do half the stunts that they use to do . I can’t tell you the last time I saw a ramp to ramp jump. There is no flash ! I love a good crash but to me , 4 white new cars running bumper to bumper , door handle to door handle , so close you can hear the bumpers click is what Hell Driving is all about. Most will tell you that it is over , a thing of the past but you can’t put on a half ass show and expect to fill the stands . People still love the automobile , the thrill of a near miss , the sound of crashing steel . Maybe its because there is not the stuntmen there use to be , I don’t know but I do know that its not because the fans of this sport no longer want to see it , its because the shows are not what they use to be . Please keep in mind I am not trying to slam any of the guys that are still at it to day , I’m just saying time moves on and the thrill show did not keep up . Get some new equipment , put some color and flash back in it , give the folks a thrill and you will pack the stands . The old saying you’ve got to spend some money to make money is right on the mark. I saw my first show more than 40 years ago , the last was a little more than a year ago and they are still telling the same old jokes , Please , there is no thought going in to these shows any more . Oh , and by the way , The Chitwoods were good BUT the Jack Kochman Hells Drivers were the best that ever ran on a fairgrounds.

  2. Yanno what SPARKY ??

    Maybe these guys don’t pull in the big national sponsors like your so called producer Charlie Belknap use to. Who I could talk about for hours and 99.9% of what I would say would be horrible. I’ll admit these guys dont have much money but they have one thing you and Charlie never had and thats heart! Ever single one of these performers have been in this business far longer than your 12 year run. So before you go talking about how great the Charlie Belknaps Hollywood Stunt Show was just realize who is still out there it sure as shit isnt you.!!!

    Oh and P.S. The Joie Chitwood Stunt show was the best, They were at the top of thier game before they went out of business and didnt get there by screwing people Figuratilvely
    and Physically. Like you and old Charlie Boy did. I always thought you were cool Andy its a real shame Charlie turned you into such a little piss ant. I always thought you guys were to close for comfort if you know what Im talking about!!

    Posted Proudly ~ A True Thrill show fan


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