Sometimes sponsor and NASCAR relationships just click, which was definitely the case when Kalahari Resorts in the Pocono Mountains decided to sponsor the Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet of Ryan Newman.
Come Behind the Scenes this week to learn just how this relationship developed and came together quickly in the Pocono Mountains.
“We could not be more excited to partner with Richard Childress Racing to sponsor Ryan Newman’s No. 31 Chevrolet to bring the spirit of Africa to the Pocono Raceway,” Todd Nelson, owner, Kalahari Resorts and Conventions, said. “The Pocono Mountains have been incredibly welcoming and we continue to find new ways to partner with and support the area.”
Don Pleau, General Manager, Kalahari Resorts and Conventions, could not agree more with his boss as far as the excitement of Kalahari coming on board with Richard Childress Racing for the Pocono race weekend.
“The Nelson family are the sole proprietors of the Kalahari property,” Pleau said. “It’s a family-owned business and they like to be involved in the community, whatever happens to be prevalent in the area.”
“The ‘Tricky Triangle’ is right around the corner and the Nelson and Igdalsky families at Pocono have sparked a relationship and they have become good friends.”
“Mr. Nelson was introduced to Richard Childress several years ago by Dave Moyer, who is the guy who is doing all the new building earth work on the site here at Kalahari. So, Mr. Nelson and Mr. Childress sparked a relationship and then introduced him to Ryan Newman.”
“And now we’ve got the Kalahari elephant on the No. 31 car.”
The Kalahari sponsorship will not only celebrate the resort itself, with its many indoor and outdoor waterpark attractions but will also showcase the resort’s upcoming anniversary in the area.
“The resort is coming up on its first birthday on July 1st, which will be the first anniversary of the opening of this property,” Pleau said. “We have two sister properties, one in Sandusky that is eleven years old and one in Wisconsin, the flagship property, that is sixteen years old.”
“So, we’re just coming up on our first anniversary and the second wing is going to open in less than 300 days. We have 457 current rooms and we’re adding 520 more rooms.”
“With that, we’ll be America’s largest waterpark. We currently hold that title in Sandusky but we’ll move that to Pennsylvania. We’re also adding four more restaurants as well. We’re basically doubling the size of the resort.”
Pleau’s favorite attraction at Kalahari is most likely the favorite one for many of the resort’s guests, both young and old alike.
“My favorite attraction would definitely by the FlowRider, an attraction in the waterpark where you can actually surf,” Pleau said. “Most people do it on their bellies, like me, but the really good guys can surf while they are standing up. Lessons are available and we actually open the park early and extend the park hours to give lessons.”
“We also have mermaid and merman lessons that we do as well. That’s really neat because there is a tail that you put on and you swim around like a mermaid or merman. That is very popular as well.”
Pleau is not only passionate about his work at Kalahari, having been with the company for over four years, but he is passionate about racing as well.
“I started with Kalahari in Wisconsin as the Food and Beverage Director and I was part of the team that opened this property here in the Poconos as the Corporate Food and Beverage Director,” Pleau said. “At the end of the summer, the Nelsons asked me if I wanted to stay on and become the General Manager and I said ‘Why not?’ My kids are both in college and so we’re empty nesters.”
“So, we were up for the opportunity and now we are happy PA residents”
“In addition to my work, I’ve been a racing fanatic for a long time,” Pleau continued. “I grew up in California and my parents were open wheel fans. So, we started watching racing when I was little.”
“I’ve been a NASCAR fan for a long time. It’s just great to be so close to the track here. We’re hosting the BK Racing team for the weekend, which is great. I got to meet Matt DiBenedetto. And Rodney Childers and his family have enjoyed the park, as has Austin Dillon.”
“Any opportunity I have to enjoy racing, I do,” Pleau said. “I normally root for the No. 4 car of Kevin Harvick, but this weekend I love the No. 31 car of Ryan Newman with that Kalahari elephant on the hood.”
For more information about the Kalahari Resort, call 1-877-KALAHARI (525-2427) or visit www.KalahariResorts.com.