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Super Bowl commercial features Road Atlanta
Hyundai Motor Co. shoots a commercial featuring its new car, Genesis, in November at Road Atlanta. The commercial aired during Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIII. - photo by KATIE DUNN

The car explodes onto the screen while rock music from the Smashing Pumpkins blares in the background.

Quick edits show a bright yellow car blazing its way around a racetrack that local fans may recognize.

One of five Super Bowl commercials for the 2009 Hyundai Genesis — it’s called “Epic Lap” and is intended to show off the performance of the car — was shot in November at Road Atlanta. While the track isn’t new to national and international attention due to the running of the Petit Le Mans each year, track President Geoff Lee said the 30-second commercial was making a lot of impact.

“We enjoy it and it’s wonderful for Hall County and Northeast Georgia to get the benefit from having a facility like this,” Lee said. “We’re always thrilled when we get the exposure and the area as well gets the exposure.”

Megan Kosicki, who works in marketing and promotions for the Braselton track, had just seen the commercial for the first time Sunday evening as it aired during the first two Super Bowl commercial breaks.

“It’s great exposure for us and for our fans who are local and even for our dedicated fans who realize it’s Road Atlanta,” said Kosicki said. “I know that we’re very grateful to have our track on the Super Bowl and to be partnered with them.”

A Web site link pops up in the closing seconds of the commercial urging you to edit your own version. The site opens up by putting you in the driver’s seat — you also can choose to watch from other angles — as the car takes an entire, full-speed lap through the 12 turns and 2.54 twisty miles of Road Atlanta during the early morning hours.

You can listen to driver Rhys Millen talk about the experience as he drives, but the engine revving and tires squealing through the turns remain even when you toggle off the radio.

New Zealander Millen is a rally and drift racer and has filmed stunts for several movies and car commercials, according to his Web site and MySpace page.

Best known as the site of the annual Petit Le Mans event, in November the track was filled with cameras and crew capturing every angle of the Hyundai Genesis.

Hyundai Motor Co., in conjunction with advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein and Partners, scouted out several locations across the country before deciding on Road Atlanta.

“For one thing, the topography of the track is incredible,” Patricia Romero, Hyundai’s national advertising manager, said during November’s shoot. “There’s a lot of turns, hairpin turns, hills; you can really show it (the car) off. And there’s so much landscape out here to choose from.”

Lee said track officials knew from the beginning the footage shot there would be featured in a Super Bowl commercial, but had to keep quiet. He said the commercial’s director was familiar with auto racing and wanted to shoot an “epic lap” at Road Atlanta.

“It’s fun to be featured like that and I think this is where it helps to have someone who understands auto racing because he knows where the best track for that thrill is in the U.S. ... (Road Atlanta) retains some of the nuance and the excitement of the tracks of yesteryear,” Lee said.

A 40-person crew spent the week before Thanksgiving filming scenes not only at the Braselton track, but also on residential roads around South Hall. Only the Road Atlanta footage is included in the Super Bowl commercial.

With 24 cameras, 12 microphones and three Hyundais on set, the crew diligently worked through the day before Thanksgiving because they were truly dedicated to the car and the shoot, Romero said.

“The director and others on the shoot are huge car fans,” she said. “The director has driven it (the car) umpteen times.”

Ad spots during the Super Bowl went for $2.4 million and $3 million per 30-second slot, according to The Associated Press.

In addition to the commercials, Hyundai also was the sponsor of NBC’s five-hour pregame show, called

“Kick-Off Show Presented by the Hyundai Genesis, ‘2009 North American Car of the Year.’”
Times’ regional staff reporter Claire Miller contributed to this story.