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Regan Smith’s sponsor has something in store for young fans this season

U.S. Cellular 250 Presented By New Holland

NEWTON, IA - AUGUST 02: Regan Smith, driver of the #7 Chevrolet, signs an autogragh during the Dash 4 Cash fan paring event before the start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series U.S. Cellular 250 Presented by New Holland, at Iowa Speedway on August 2, 2014 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

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MOORESVILLE, N.C. - As NASCAR makes a push to reach more children, one primary sponsor has some fun planned for young fans.

Toy State, which sponsors Regan Smith’s ride at Tommy Baldwin Racing, is taking a unique concept with the look of Smith’s car this year.

“Our wraps this year are all designed by our toy designers,’’ said Andrew Friess, president of Toy State. “We’re bringing kind of that flavor of really aggressive and fun and a toyatic feel to it.

“We’re also this year focusing our on-track presence to look like some of our toys that are on the shelf. A little later in the year we’re going to have a ‘Thomas and Friends’ toy wrap. bringing some of the toys as kids see them on the shelf. All of a sudden you see a real-life version of them on TV on Sundays in the race.’’

Friess says that by doing that it could give a child “something to gravitate to, now what they’re holding in their hands they can see running round the track.’’

Many other plans are being enacted to reach young fans. NASCAR and Richmond International Raceway promoted moving the track’s spring race from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon as a way for more families to attend the event. NASCAR has set aside a special children’s autograph zone near the entrance to the driver/crew chief meeting before the race for drivers to interact with kids.

Toy State is in its second year as a sponsor at Tommy Baldwin Racing. The team served as the primary sponsor for 10 races last year. Friess said the company will serve as a primary sponsor in 14 races this year — including Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway — and be on the car for 29 events.

Friess also said that races where Toy State is the primary sponsor, it has Smith go to the fans zone and race Nikko RC cars with fans, including children, to further cement a bond with them.

“It is definitely trying to reach that younger demographic,’’ Friess said.

Smith says the kids are interested.

“The more kids we can get involved and show them how cool our sport is and why we’re passionate about it is great,’’ he said. “Playing with the kids, that’s what it’s all about.’’

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