What do you get when bring several hundred of some of the most collectible cars together under the warm sunny January skies of Phoenix? You get a lot of gearheads, and a lot of people that just plain love machines. You also get people that truly enjoy to drive and can appreciate what a potent combination a pro driver and a capable car can make. Ford Motor Company is keenly aware of this as well, and has been for many years. That’s exactly why they have looked to PFG to manage one of the most successful ride and drive programs that the Barrett Auction has ever hosted.
For 9 days, PFG will provide the staff to manage a ride and drive that will see over 2,500 people get the chance to drive 2 Ford models from a list of 12 cars, and then go for a “hot lap” ride with a professional driver in a Shelby GT500, new-for-2015 Mustang GT, or Ford’s best kept pocket rocket secrets, the Focus and Fiesta ST models.
Then, when they finish with the ride and drive program, participants can learn more about the models they drove by visiting the PFG-managed Ford Motor Company main indoor display. As in years past, PFG provides not only the staff to keep the show running, but also provides all of the sign-in kiosks, the associated software, and fully cleansed data uploads.
Ford must see some value in what we’re doing, as PFG has been the go-to vendor for the Blue Oval for the past several years at Barrett Auctions across the U.S.
Before the sun goes down on this year’s BJ Auction there will likely be a couple of multi-million dollar bids for historically significant machines or simply utterly perfect rolling time capsules of automotive beauty. And we’ll be there to see them all!
If you’re in the area of North Scottsdale outside of Phoenix, Arizona, be sure to stop by sometime between January 10th and the 18th. It’s one of those things that you have to see to believe.
For the 11th consecutive year, the PFG team of professional drivers, coaches, logistics managers, road producers and facilitators helped the Ford Fund realize its goal of training teens across the globe and throughout the U.S. to become safer and more responsible drivers.
PFG VICE PRESIDENT HAS GLOBAL REACH
While the U.S. was the main focus for the PFG team, logistics manager and PFG vice president Randy Bleicher was also asked to represent Ford Motor Company in England, Germany and Russia. His role in those countries was to help them to teach teens using the Ford Driving Skills for Life curriculum, and to adapt that curriculum to the differences in driving style, teaching style and culture. Randy learned quite a bit over the course of his trips abroad. Plus, he earned an incredible amount of frequent flyer miles – one of those great perks that we see in our industry!!!
NEW FOR ’14
On the U.S. tour for Driving Skills for Life, the PFG team travelled with Ford Fund representatives to sites across the country, but the work for the 2014 started in 2013 as PFG was tasked with designing a new look and style for the program while also adding to the scope of the curriculum. Using partner and in-house graphic artists, the PFG team developed artwork for on-site signage and clothing. The result was a giant client pleaser to be sure!
In-house road producer Tresco Boutard put his considerable talents to use over the winter of 2013 to design and fabricate several program enhancements. For example, Tresco designed a light beam actuated stop light that we use to show stopping distance and reaction times of drivers in the Hazard Recognition/Speed and Space Management exercise. The mechanism is so effective, that we have received several comments from teens and parents that have gone through the DSFL program praising the fact that we have clearly shown the effect of reaction time on driving scenarios. Tresco also built a foot pedal system and attached it to a purchased group of table based reaction timers for our new-for-2014 Reaction Timer breakout exercise.
Long time PFG go-to guy and local Phoenix racer Todd Cook took on the mantle of speaker for the new-for-2014 breakout exercise in the DSFL program that we call Safety and Technology. Todd is tasked with talking to teens about the many current safety features available on cars of all makes. He also touches on how maintenance and understanding the systems of the vehicle you own can have a direct impact on safety.
DSFL rig diver Dennis Werner also increased his role in the DSFL program by becoming the official Safety Around Big Rigs speaker at all of the DSFL events. His easygoing and charismatic demeanor have mad him a favorite amongst teens and parents alike, and the information he provides has been an eye opener for many participants.
In addition to the breakout exercises, the newly fabricated materials and artwork, the PFG team developed curriculum for DSFL that helped teens learn to drive manual transmission equipped vehicles. The curriculum proved to be a huge success and was a hit especially with the Ford marketing team that partnered with the Ford Fund for those particular exercises.
While DSFL placed most of its emphasis on the full-scale programs in the U.S. for 2014, there were several smaller programs that the PFG team was tasked with that were designed, managed and run by PFG team members only; the Ford Fund personnel were comfortable allowing the PFG team to do the programs alone. These programs ranged from behind-the-wheel driving programs to media driven talks to school assemblies. Each small program had a different flavor, a different audience and different need – all of which was the responsibility of the PFG team to handle.
And finally, the PFG team was a major force in the DSFL debut in Canada. The PFG team handled site selection and site tours, travel logistics for the team and the supplies, changes in curriculum, and hiring and training of Canadian staff. Dave Drimmie, manager of the PFG Canadian office was a critical part of the process and will continue in his role into 2015. The two cities selected by Ford of Canada for the debut of DSFL were Toronto and Calgary. Both cities were terrific choices and made the debut that much more successful. Plus, the Phoenix based PFG crew wasted no time taking in the sites, visiting downtown areas in both cities and enjoying the spectacular natural setting in Calgary. Select PFG personnel will likely travel back to Canada this year as a management team, and the requests are coming in already to be a part of that next trip!
While 2014 was a banner year for PFG and DSFL, 2015 is shaping up to be even busier and better. And we are really looking forward to it!
The Ford Driving Skills for Life program celebrated its 10 year anniversary in early June, with a trip and media blitz in New York City! PFG instructors and managers set up a program in the parking lot of CitiField in Queens – home of the New York Mets. The program emphasized distracted driving driving, simulated impaired driving, the relationship between reaction time and distance traveled at various velocities, safety and technology and also vehicle handling.
The program was used to allow the media to see how the Ford Driving Skills for Life program has evolved to meet the needs of new drivers and to address the continually changing technology at the fingertips of many drivers for communication and safety.
PFG also worked with Ford public relations personnel to make sure that the proper visual and speaking messaging were delivered.
Despite a weather forecast that called for potential thunderstorms, the event day saw clear sunny skies and an impressive media presence. PFG personnel set up a shuttle service to whisk media to and from the stadium itself to the driving area in a timely and comfortable manner.
In addition to the driving elements, the media also covered a panel discussion featuring several people including former FDSFL students and their parents, as well as Ford Fund manger Jim Graham among others. The panel discussion covered a wide range of topics related to safe teen driving and also allowed several of the panelists to express their opinions as well.
PFG managers ensured that the CitiField catering provided proper areas for the driving and panel discussion elements and also diligently with the catering service that turned out a wonderful Big Apple style spread.
Once the program was completed, the PFG team heading into spectacular Manhattan! Indeed, it is a city like no other and the instructors and PFG managers made the most of their time. From Times Square to Grand Central Station and all the eateries in between NYC doesn’t ever seem to sleep. And, a visit to the stunning and somber 9/11 memorial with the massive 1776 foot tower overlooking it all was an absolute must.
Now that the PFG team is back home, we are looking forward to our next trip in two weeks – Salt Lake City, Utah for another full scale FDSFL safe teen driving event.
If you like iconic and older model American muscle cars, and you also like the spring conditions in northern Nevada, then the Hot August Nights Spring Fever event being held May 31st and June 1st, is an event you don’t want to miss. The Barrett Jackson auto auction folks don’t want to miss it either, and since we at PFG are a supporting vendor for them, we are headed up there now with a BJ liveried F-250.
The May/June gathering of hot rods from all over the country leads up to the big Hot August Nights event in, well, August!! And, since Barrett Jackson auto auctions are not only the biggest auctions out there, but also the biggest with regard to American metal, it definitely makes sense for them to be there.
At PFG, we handle data capture and ride and drive services for all of the Barrett Jackson events each year, and we also provide support services for the BJ team at some of their “sponsor” level events.
Which means that they trust us to make them look good. And, we do. It also means that we have to end up spending hours on end around some of the most beautiful cars and trucks that the U.S. has ever produced. Yeah, its a tough job! And we are very very glad to do it!
So, if you happen to be in the Reno, Nevada area this weekend, and get the urge to check out some American muscle cars, stop by the car show, and take some time to visit us at the Barrett Jackson truck.
At PFG, we are proud of our association with Ford Motor Company and our involvement with the Ford Driving Skills for Life safe teen driving program. While our primary responsibility has traditionally been to handle the logistics, driving instructors, course builds and show production, we were recently tasked with a large video project.
Even though the attention grabbing behind-the-wheel training part of Driving Skills for Life program is what most people see, the Ford Fund has also updated their new for 2014 site. And, the PFG team had a large role in the Academy section of the site.The Academy was developed to help those teens that can’t get to the behind-the-wheel programs. The way the Academy helps is to provide a series of informative videos on all things safe driving.
As subject matter experts, the PFG team was selected to write the scripts for the videos. We then, working with a professional video team, directed the videos and provided the on screen talent. The result was a series of 22 informative and fun videos using instructors that work on the DSFL programs. The videos include static shots, animation and even some in-car footage to get the points across.
It turns out that some of the people that have seen the videos also make it out the programs. How do we know? Teens actually come up to us and tell us they learned just from watching us speak to them and using terms and personalities that they could identify with. Hearing that kind of positive feedback from a teenager is a great thing, and is just one more reason why we are proud of what we do!
From the site of the old Comiskey Park to Lincoln’s hometown, to the site that represents the heart of Ford Motor Company, the PFG team of professional drivers, instructors, program managers and speakers finished off a highly successful tour of the Midwest with the Ford Driving Skills for Life program.
Many people don’t know this, but the Chicago White Sox U.S. Cellular Field is built just a few feet from the site of the fabled, legendary and now torn down Comiskey Park. What’s left of the old pitchers’ mound is a large parking lot. That lot has proven for several years to be a great place to hold driving events, and indeed the PFG team set out again to build courses and set up tents for the program. Despite the wind and cold, the free driving program was filled for both days. NBC’s Today show even made a visit out to the program, and showed the nation how Ford and PFG are bringing safe driver training to teens across the country.
After two program days in Chicago, the PFG crew tore down the courses, packed up the DSFL big rig, and headed down to Springfield, Illinois. Although most noted as being the birthplace of President Abraham Lincoln, Springfield is also home to some really great people and to the Illinois Air National Guard base at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport. The commander at the base was kind enough to temporarily let us use the flight line for event. The primary mission of the Guard base is to rebuild and maintain the power plants for F-16 fighter jets across the U.S. As it turns out, many of the PFG drivers that work on the Ford Driving Skills for Life program are big fans of aviation. Add to that fat that the personnel on base were simply terrific people to work with, and the result was that our stay there was very enjoyable.
With roughly 48 hours of rest, the PFG team was back at it, this time in the heart of Ford country – Dearborn, Michigan. The program was held at the Dearborn Proving grounds, literally within direct line of sight of Ford Corporate World Headquarters. Over the course of four days, the PFG team of instructors and logistics personnel worked with the Ford Fund team and the Dearborn proving grounds staff to teach 800 newly licensed or permitted teens how to be safer drivers.
The Dearborn Proving Grounds has been a yearly stop since 2011, and houses one of the largest and most comprehensive proving grounds areas in the world. The site of the current facility was actually originally an airport, and during World War II served as a manufacturing and testing area for the B-24 Liberator.
So, after a strong two week stint, the PFG team will take a bit of a break to work on other part of the business, before packing up again and heading out to New York City for another Ford Driving Skills for Life event in early June.
Road going shows – its what we do – and we love it!