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TOUGH MONEY: Entertainment | EXAMPLES FROM LIFE

Toying Around

Dan Moynihan, 46, Chatsworth

March 24, 1997

I was an executive with a national telecommunications firm when my wife gave me a toy radio-controlled racing car 10 years ago. I immediately took it out into the street, promptly ran it into my neighbor's fence and decided to do my racing on a track. There I discovered that I needed something that didn't exist: a stand to put the car on between races to keep the tires from developing flat spots. I wasn't thinking of starting a new business when I cobbled together a stand from spare pieces of plastic and took it with me to the next race. Another racer said he wanted one, and offered to pay for it! So I took my prototype to a plastics company, had them run off 1,000 units and started leaving them in hobby shops on consignment.

The resulting demand for stands and other accessories inspired me to form my own design and production company. It also inspired me to promote our products in an unusual way. Deciding that promoting the cars themselves was the way to go, I began organizing toy-car racing events in partnership with corporations looking for new ways to promote their full-size race teams. For example, Gatorade had us stage audience-participation races at Darlington International Speedway in Darlington, S.C., the week before the $2.5-million Gatorade 200, with the winners being introduced to the crowd just before the regular race.

Now I produce toy-car shows for Fortune 500 companies and work with movie studios, supplying components for scale-model versions of such vehicles as the Batmobile. I've retired my suits, I have no stress and I love what I do. And all because my wife bought me that little toy car 10 years ago.

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