Q: You’ve been involved in auto racing for more than a decade and now own two Champ Car races. What’s driving that involvement?
A: I started a business for my dad in the early 1970s. He sent me to Indianapolis to start an equipment company. The first May I was there I was driving by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and heard the cars. That kind of hooked me to see what was going on.
In 1992, as our business was growing, we decided to make an investment in sponsoring race cars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for exposure and, more importantly, to bring our customers to a place they normally couldn’t go. Anybody can take someone to a Browns game or an Indians game, but they can’t bring them in the locker room.
We actually bring our customers in the locker room of racing. We bring them in the pits and our VIP customers are in the pits during the race. We bring them in the paddock area where the teams are working on the cars. They talk to the car owners. The morning of the race, they talk to the drivers. They actually know what our strategy is that day, discuss it with our team owners and engineers.
In 1997, we elected to start our own team so that we could control our own destiny. We became a car owner in what is now called the Atlantic series. We started with that and then we went into Champ Car.
This is our fourth season inChamp Car.
Being at so many races and seeing what works at race venues and what doesn't, we thought wecan do a better job as a promoter because we're race fans first. So now we're wearing all three hats.
Q: Your first race acquisition was Houston?
A: Houston, this year. We had 127,000 people for the weekend. I'm very pleased with it. It appeared to work very, very well with the festival atmosphere we wanted to create.
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