Austin Dillon is #ALLin With His Fans
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on May 15, 2014 | 6:29 P.M. EST
Austin Dillon's #ALLin social media contests have elicited unique responses from fans. (Photo: Getty Images)
Girls in boots. Awkward hugs. Poker faces. It’s not a stream-of-conscious thought, dream or tweet but reality. Thank Austin Dillon for it.
A member of the Twitter/Instagram/YouTube generation, the 24-year-old Dillon wanted to connect with fans in a way beyond racing. Thus, the advent of the #ALLin contest where he poses challenges to fans via social media.
The awkward hug contest was among the unique challenges Dillon issued fans.
The premise was simple, videotape yourself giving an awkward hug. Winner received two race tickets.
“Austin, I’ll take on that challenge,’’ 17-year-old Eric Webler said on the video he made. “Me hugging someone until it’s awkward ...oh yeah, I’ll do that.’’
Webler, a long-time NASCAR fan, does gaming videos on his YouTube page, so he’s not shy in front of the camera.
What followed after his declaration was a montage of awkward hugs the junior from Walton, N.Y. gave a teacher, friends and others at his high school.
The hugs lasted 20 seconds or more. Only one person tried to pull away.
“That was my mom,’’ he said, laughing.
Webler’s video got Dillon’s attention, who tweeted a link to it as an example of how to do the challenge.
That thrilled Webler but it also made him nervous because he worried someone would try to top his video.
“I don’t win things like this,’’ Webler said. “Then I won. It was one of the most awesome (thing).’’
He yelled to his mom when he found out, “We won!” She then started calling friends.
The awkward hug caught on. Dillon said a sponsor representative came up to after the contest and began to hug him.
“I thought, “Man, that was kind of weird,’ ‘’ Dillon said.
Then they said they were just doing the awkward hug.
Dillon has had other fun with his contests. He’s challenged fans to send in photos to show how they use the sun, how they challenge themselves in work or sports, their poker face and themselves wearing boots.
The poker face contest was won by Heather Mabe’s 3-year-old son, Lucas. The 22-year-old Mabe, who is from Madison, N.C., submitted a picture of her son wearing sunglasses, a cowboy hat, puffed out cheeks and a look of self-assurance. The Austin Dillon T-shirt Lucas wore probably didn’t hurt either.
“I thought that was the perfect picture,’’ Mabe said.
As soon as she saw Dillon’s challenge, she knew that was the photo to submit. Mabe won a pair of racing gloves Dillon had worn.
When the gloves arrived, Lucas wouldn’t take them off.
“I want to be like Austin,’’ Lucas told his mother. “I want to drive his racecar.’’
It is such connections with fans that make the contest fun for Dillon, but he also admits it’s difficult coming up with the challenges. His fans enjoy them.
“It’s something I look forward to,’’ Mabe said.
Webler said he looks forward to the chance of meeting Dillon some day, maybe when he uses those tickets to attend the Watkins Glen race later this season. If he met Dillon, what would Webler do?
He’d shake Dillon’s hand ... and then hug him.