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Juggling a full time job, family, lots of other commitments and very little spare time has taken its toll on my blogging availability. I don’t want to be one of those bloggers (no offense if you do this) who blogs a few sentences or random thoughts that pop in their head. I desire to post some thought provoking content that challenges us to think, reflect and achieve greatness. So, my revised goal for this site, at least for the time being, is to post one meaningful entry per week. I am going to resist the urge to post a bunch and attempt to save the content for weeks when my schedule gets the best of me. Your participation, in the form of suggestions, comments, quotes, etc., is helpful as this web based process ebbs and flows. I value your active involvement more than you know.

 

As I pen this entry, I am somewhere between a very cold Indianapolis and a hopefully warm and sunny Florida. I’m returning from a fantastic legal conference called TRAC – The Racing Attorney Conference. I have had the pleasure of being a panelist at this great event for the past two years and have found it to be a very useful experience. This year about a hundred lawyers and industry experts gathered in the infield of the Brickyard to discuss the topics that we face daily in the motorsports industry. While the newfound knowledge was great, making personal connections and contacts is the highlight for me. Too often I negotiate deals with my counterparts across the country and never get to meet them face to face or learn about them past the particulars of a deal.

 

Establishing personal relationships are the most effective way to do business. Negotiations, contracts and general business go much smoother when you can sit across the table or on a call with someone who is more than just “the other side.” I pushed myself to meet new people during my time in Indy in an effort to be working with a friend the next time I am fortunate enough to negotiate a deal. We talked about business and the law some, but I was genuinely more interested in their background, family, and other interests. I also renewed relationships with my friends from many wonderful companies involved in this small world we call “the motorsports industry”. No matter what your industry, profession or current situation, go out of your way to make strategic acquaintances. These friendships will never be wasted time and may just make your job more enjoyable down the road.

 

Striving for The Best!-mwr

Continuing a glimpse into SPEEDWEEKS, I have wrapped a few days into this post. Friday started with a bang, as the crunch was on to complete deals for the Bud Shootout activities. The biggest was a sampling contract that we literally had 3 days to draft, negotiate and execute before the benefits were began Sat morning. Signatures we exchanged late Friday and our on site camping guests were pleased, as it provided them with a sampling of Old Spice shower products for the upcoming days. During the madness of the day, I snuck away with my family for a few minutes to visit the Budweiser Clydesdales. My new friend, Hans, travels with the horses and their Dalmatian, Barley, 320 days per year. It was neat to be so close to these amazing animals….Mackenzie especially liked going into the stalls with this huge horses!

 

Next up, the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday. Great weather greeted us and the night concluded with a fantastic finish on the track. The ARCA race before the main event was well attended, but, as expected, was a bit of a demolition derby. I did not have any responsibilities during the day, so Amanda and I attended most of the race, but had to watch the finish from home, due to a couple of sick little girls. We spotted Jared from Subway, along with some RoushFenway racing folks during the race. The Shootout is the first change to see some of the change for the upcoming season and this year was no exception. Getting used to all the driver, number, sponsor and team changes will take some time, but here are a few of the most notable – Tony Stewart in the #14; Mark Martin in the #5; Casey Mears in the #07; Clint Bowyer in the #33; Joey Lagano in the #20; Bobby Labonte in the #96….and on and on and on…

 

Sunday was reserved for church and watching the Daytona 500 qualifying on TV. It’s great to see EGR driver Martin Truex, Jr. in the #1 on the pole, but also thrilling to see Daytona Beach resident, Mark Martin, on the outside pole. Looks like we are in for some surprises and new faces during the upcoming season!

 

Monday and Tuesday were pretty quiet on the track, but it seemed that the last minute deals and ticket sales were non-stop. A few track visits, combined with meeting on projects and contract completion for the weekend were the main highlights…Nothing too exciting there, but tons of work for sure. Wednesday will bring the start of a flurry of activity culminating with The Great American Race on Sunday!

 

Striving for The Best! -mwr

NASCAR Banquet week is here and the Waldorf Astoria NYC will be buzzing with the best and brightest NASCAR has to offer. While everyone will be rightfully celebrating Jimmy Johnson’s 3-peat, one of the sports brightest stars embarked on an image / career move that may have an impact on our sport of decades. While he is commonly known by just 2 letters – JR – his 2008 change literally re-painted the NASACAR landscape.

 

From 2000 to 2008, the grandstands were a sea of Red. Now, there are hues of green and blue. Legions of fans pledged allegiance to a Fibonacci number. Now, they rally behind it times 11, albeit slanted left now instead of right. The game to get there was a nice disctrction during the latter part of 2007, as the Hendricks organization filed applications with the USPTO for numbers such as 38 and 81, before finally announcing the #88 was the chosen one.

 

What Michael Jordan – 23 to 45 to 23, Kobe Bryant – 8 to 24, more recently Manny Rameriez – Red Sox #24 to Dodger Blue #99 (eventually) and others did with mild success, Dale Earnhart Jr. has pulled off masterfully! In addition to almost single handedly revolutionizing (some insiders also think hurting)  NASCAR team sponsorships, Dale and his sister / manager Kelly Earnhardt Elledge started printing money with this seemingly simple shift.

 

They didn’t stray too far from the familiar 8 to make die-hards mad, but did pick up brands that every person (including those under 21) can wear proudly.  Merchandising is such a huge aspect of every Cup driver’s income stream that changing numbers and sponsorship can be, and in this case was, a windfall of revenue.

 

As we close the history books on the 2008 NASCAR Season, the 8 is a part of a merger with another struggling team (Gnassi-DEI Merger), while the 88 seems to be getting its house in order. Though this season started out strong for the 88, the latter half of the year was a struggle. My money is on the very real possibility that Jr. seems poised for a breakout year in 2009, which makes the February running of the Daytona 500 too far away for me.

 

Striving for the Best! –mwr

I would be remiss if I did not offer congrats to Jimmy Johnson and the #48 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship race team today. Fantastic accomplishment by a top notch organization. JJ and crew have tied Cale Yarborough’s record of 3 straight – the only other driver to do this 30 years ago. He now ranks 4th on the list of all time champions behind only Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon (none of whom won 3 straight). Petty summed it up the best “Just to win three period is big. Three in a row?” Wow!

 

Like him or not, this guy knows how to drive a race car and win championships! Incredible accomplishment. My favorite thing about Jimmy and team is that they are not yet satisfied. They are already looking toward 2009 and Chad Knaus (crew chief) says “To get four championships in a row, you have to get three,” about 10 minutes into the press conference.

 

I’ll probably post more on reflections of the 2008 season soon. Big things happened this year – 50th Running of the Daytona 500; Dale Jr. in the 88; Kyle Bush dominate early; Sponsorship issues and teams folding; Tony Stewart’s final season in the #20; Gnassi-DEI Merger and much more. Let us know if you have favorite moments of the 2008 Sprint Cup Season in the comment section below.

 

Srtiving for the Best! -mwr

My new friend, Charlie, posed a question that is gripping the nation right now – should the government bail out the US auto manufacturers? While this post has taken me a while to craft, it corresponds with the start of a lame duck Congressional session on this exact issue. I’m no expert on this subject, but have watching with great interest. It’s no secret that the motorsports industry has had a long standing partnership with the auto manufacturers. I have business associates, turned friends, who are employed by the “Big 3” and been involved with all of them. This issue came to the forefront for me a few months back when GM announced it would not renew its NASCAR track sponsorships. Even this weekend, GM’s announcements have even created a stir in the NASCAR garages. This Washington Post article details some of the issues we face – “Big three apply brakes to NASCAR Sponsorship.”

 

To get back to Charlie’s question, here is the quandary I struggle with – should the US taxpayer bear the burden to prop up businesses that can not sustain themselves? Regardless of the reason for why they are not profitable, when a small business does not make money the owner inevitable has to shut their doors. Even closer to home, (more…)

Alright, I have been blogging furiously for the past month and the stats show a few of you actually read the posts. Al even added me back to his blogroll. Jon (my own brother) couldn’t care less. Moving forward, I want to know what you are interested in reading or discussing. WordPress added a poll tool, so if you are having election withdrawls or just want to be heard (I want to hear you) chime and make your voice known……

Striving for the Best!-mwr

This is not a political post. Well, not totally. The mega wealthy (of which I am not even close to a part) has exactly 2 months to figure out what they are going to do if they expect a big payday in the next few years. ESPN.com posted an interesting article about MLB baseball players who expect to sign contracts in the off season. They better get to work or that 4.6% increase will cost their clients a lot of money.

 

On a related note, Wayne Huizenga, owner of the Miami Dolphins, indicated last week that he wanted to speed up the sale of the franchise so that he does not have to pay higher capital gains taxes.

 

Good thing the NASCAR boys get their season ending bonus check in NYC in late November. JJ or Carl might not have been quite as happy winning the championship if more of the Sprint Cup Champions multi-million dollar bonus pay day was wiped away in taxes.

 

One the other hand, I am SO GLAD President-elect Obama pushed for a playoff system in College Football. I want to see that happen so bad. Come on Mr. President, make that happen and this “southern-redneck” will be very happy!  

 

Striving for the Best!-mwr

While flipping through the channels last night (since the Rays were clobbering the Red Sox), I stumbled across a very cool documentary on Christian Hosoi, called “Rising Son.” Not sure why I stayed with it, but I am glad I did. Hosoi was an icon when I was growing up in the late 80’s & early 90’s and was on equal footing with Tony Hawk. Hosoi literally brought skateboarding to the forefront and lived the life of a rock star.

Hosoi Hammerhead

Hosoi Hammerhead

 

I was never a skater, but even in Florida everyone knew Christian Hosoi, his numerous endorsements (including Jimmy’Z), the Hammerhead skateboard design and the legendary skateboard tricks.  
 
He had everything any person would ever want, but the fast paced life and drugs that followed nearly destroyed him. Hosoi skipped the first X-games (the one that made Tony Hawk a very rich man and international icon) and soon after, his life completely unraveled. Hosoi was arrested on drug charges and sentenced to federal prison in 2001. At his lowest point, Christian accepted Jesus as his savior. If you want to read a detailed version of his life’s story, check this out.
 
He is now out of prison, started a new skateboard company and is on staff as a pastor at The Sanctuary Church in Huntington Beach, CA. Great story of a guy who has overcome and is doing everything he can to make a difference in the world now.

Yesterday was a good day. It began with 6am basketball and ended with a celebration dinner around 8:30 pm. The biggest event of the day was the second Daytona Beach City Commission reading of our zoning request change for the Daytona Live! project. We won approval with a unanimous 7-0 vote of the commission. I have previously posted pictures of this project here, so check them out.

Daytona LIve! is a fantastic development that I have had the privilege to work on. I have put in a ton of hours, but also learned a tremendous amount!! In the coming weeks, I plan to blog about some of the ups and downs, highs and lows, and failures and successes I have encountered throughout this project. We have a few more steps to go before construction starts, but with the zoning change our team can see the project taking shape. It is VERY exciting. Get ready Daytona Beach – a new world headquarters for International Speedway Corporation and NASCAR, plus a world class entertainment destination is coming your way!

Finding a trusted peer your can confide in and bounce thing off of is another way to grow as a professional. Timing is not as critical as finding the right people.  I have about 3 or 4 of these types of people in my life – my wife, an associate with whom I have coffee with each morning, and a good friend from out of town (not a lawyer). You have to give a confidant the right to speak into your life and career. Provide them with the avenue to candidly express an opinion about your situation or tell you in no uncertain terms that you are right or wrong.  

Having a mentor is great, but a closer associate will allow you to speak very frank and candidly discuss issues, problems and ideas. These people can be your “sounding board” to help you determine if you really have an issue or if you are seeing the situation clearly.  I have even found that expressing joys, frustrations or concerns to a confidant may pay dividends, as they can sometimes find a way to help you out in a tight situation. 

Take a look around and determine if you have a confidant. If you do not have one, start working towards developing that type of relationship. Let us know what effective strategies you use to develop or grow confidant relationships.

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