2023 Year In Review

I love every minute of this break and try to soak up as much of it as possible… but as the hours tick by and the Daytona 500 looms less than 50 days away, I start to get anxious. This happens every year, and like clockwork, I start preparing by addressing the pain points I had in the previous season that can be fixed with an online purchase:

The NASCAR industry is a hamster wheel that nearly constantly stays in motion— I say “nearly” because this statement is true except for the last two weeks of the year. From just before Christmas through to when the ball drops in Times Square, the entire NASCAR industry shuts down for a well-earned and desperately needed rest.

  • New shoes – Check
  • New shirts – Check
  • Better rain gear (you won’t get me twice Chicago) – Check
  • New laptop ordered – Check

Then I turn to my digital systems:

  • One Note file structure organized – Check
  • Team Update videos prepped – Check
  • Reoccurring calendar invites sent – Check, Check, Check

Then, when I can’t stand it any longer, I head into the office to get some real work done. And just as abruptly as things slowed down, I am back in work mode counting down the days before the Great American Race.

365 days ago, I was sitting in the same office that I am right now, running through the same checklist that I am today, and feeling as excited to start the next season as I am now. But as important as it is to mark things off the checklist, it’s equally as important to use this time to reflect on what an incredible accomplishment 2023 was.

Slowing down to enjoy an achievement is not something I am great at but 2023 was both incredibly difficult and rewarding. So, after a bit of reflection these three highlights were definitely at the top.

Celebration of NASCAR’s Diamond Anniversary Year

When I joined the team in July of 2022, the 75th anniversary planning committee had already started prepping and I had some catching up to do. However, my love and respect for NASCAR’s history allowed me to get up to speed quickly. We were able to incorporate anniversary elements into numerous aspects of a race fan’s event experience, including dozens of interactions with NASCAR’s most iconic drivers. Additionally, we were able to utilize historic NASCAR vehicles and create memorable keepsake moments for guests all around the country. A highlight of the season was when we had dozens of NASCAR’s greatest drivers, including heroes of mine like Richard Petty and Bobby Allison, who delivered the command to start engines before the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway. This gave everyone in attendance goosebumps knowing that an assembly of motorsport pioneers like that would likely never happen again. Over a decade ago  I wrote a blog highlighting the top moments in my career and after this season I am definitely going to need to update that list. 

Team Development

A little less than 17 months ago I joined the company and was given a management title but no one to manage. Even though I am a bit of a control freak who wants to do things for myself I knew it wasn’t possible to move as fast as we needed to move without some assistance. Therefore, I went to work, quickly recruiting teammates from around the company and the country who were passionate about our guests and giving them the best possible experience that we could produce. This not only included full-time teammates but part-time and freelance professionals that we would work closely with to build a world-class entertainment team. After a terrific year of hard work, I am proud to say that we now have a quality team of highly effective pros that live and breathe the NASCAR Event Experience and work on behalf of our track leadership to bring their visions to life.

NASCAR Experience

Since the time that dinosaurs roamed the earth and France Family ancestors were racing on the beach, we have conducted a post-event survey of our guests’ race day experience that serves as our North Star. Fortunately for me, our guests were super clear on what would make them happy—and that was bringing back some of the iconic fan displays of the past, including the Sprint Experience. Even more fortunate, I worked closely with the team at Sprint to develop this display and helped manage its deployment at over 38 events per year for numerous seasons. Armed with this knowledge, it should be no surprise that the NASCAR Experience was a huge hit this year with fans from coast to coast, serving as an anchor to their pre-race experience. The team at CSM Production did a terrific job building our 200’x 200’ display 19+ times this season and working alongside our entertainment team to create lifelong memories for our guests. I was standing on the side of the stage while our emcees, Grace Dirig and Daryl Motte, had the crowd singing “Country Roads” at the top of their lungs. I knew that our guests were going to leave happy that weekend. 

Undoubtably, this is a year that I won’t soon forget—but as everyone in the event business knows, you are only as good as your last event. With that said, it is time to get back to work because the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum is only 35 days away and we might only get one chance to create a lifelong memory for guests in attendance.

Hope I see you trackside soon,