• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Monday, July 10, 2006

'THE GREAT ADVENTURE'


I had the incredible professional experience to be in the middle of auto racing’s original – and only – 24-hour news-cycle story. I was the public relations director for Newman/Haas Racing when Nigel Mansell, the 1992 Formula One world champion, made his unprecedented move to CART’s PPG Indy Car World Series in 1993. When Nigel did his first oval test, in January ’93 at Phoenix International Raceway, 90 journalists from 9 countries showed up to report on his exploits. Throughout that championship season, it became my daily routine to take calls from international reporters late into the p.m., as well as review overnight fax interview requests first thing in the a.m.

Two great memories remain from that test, which for any other driver, typically would have attracted three or four writers or photographers. Carl Haas looked at the media cluster and whispered to me in one of history's classic understatements, "I think this might be bigger than we thought." Co-owner Paul Newman surveyed the scene and said Mansell in America was “The Great Adventure.”

The Great Adventure. That’s what I’m hoping this journey into the blogosphere will be.

I like to think I’ve learned a lot in the 35 years I’ve been involved in journalism and PR and communications management jobs. (Especially what not to do.) These days, I have the opportunity to monitor most aspects of the Business of Racing on a daily basis, and that’s why this outpost in cyberspace now exists. Motorsports can be thrilling and terrifying and there are God-knows how many places to go to get the results. But I have long found the behind-the-scenes deeds and deals and politics to be just as important and interesting. Maybe that’s because I’ve eye-witnessed my share and even been directly involved in the intrigue from time-to-time.

This is not the first I’ve said this and it sure won’t be the last: To be a good and knowledgable fan, or reporter, you MUST know something about the Business of Racing. You’ll understand what happens on-the-track better by understanding what happens off-the-track.

So . . . every Tuesday during the season – at a minimum - I’ll fall back on my own experiences to try and put the current-day happenings into context. Plus, point out a few issues not discussed elsewhere. I'm one of those people who believe it's essential to keep learning and my wish is this blog will be a vehicle to stimulate thought for all of us in, or with an interest in, the industry.

Please come along for the ride.

[ more Thursday . . . ]