Motorsports


I recently received an inquiry from a law school classmate that prompted a great discussion topic. The gist of the note was twofold – 1) how did you go from being an aspiring trial law student to an in-house contract lawyer and 2) how do you continue to stay passionate about your work. With permission, I thought the best way to respond was to use those questions as blog entries.

A little bit of history…While at the FSU College of Law, I was a member of the Mock Trial Team and fortunate to serve as president of the team my last year. We entered trial competitions and advocated against other law school students. It was a close nit group, a lot of work, a ton of fun and the best preparation for a career as a trial lawyer one could get while still in law school. After a few competitions, I just knew I was cut out for trial work! When it came time to enter the “real world,” I quickly found out that while many people sue, few actually go to trial. As a baby lawyer who wants to try cases, you either go to a government job handling criminal cases (state attorney/public defender) or carry a seasoned lawyers briefcase, learn the ropes, and pray you get a shot one day. Neither one of those options really appealed to me, so I began looking elsewhere.

I landed my current position right out of law school in a manner that most of the time doesn’t work…I sent in a blind resume to a company and hoped for the best. For a variety of reasons, I wanted to return home, but just knew that the legal market in Daytona Beach, FL would probably not allow that to happen. I can honestly say that many years of hard work, prayer and Divine Intervention landed me with a job I enjoy. While I had offers from traditional firms, many lawyers I spoke with wanted to get out of a firm and go in house, and there were few in house folks who wanted to go back to a firm. I figured I would skip the firm experience and land in a place where many hope to finish. My background synced up perfectly with an open position and 9 years later, here I am!

The boardroom is now my courtroom. Preparation for a successful negotiation is similar to how one would prepare to try a case – know the issues, know the parties and try to masterfully convince others to see a set of facts the was you view them.  While trail law and contract law seem to be polar opposites, there are many similarities – both sides have clients; both sides have different perspectives; both sides want successful outcomes.

Staying passionate about my work is a topic for the next post….that one could take a while.

Striving for The Best!-mwr

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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…)

I am asked often “What do you do every day?” Here’s a glimpse of a semi-completed project I have been working on daily for over 2 years. There is not enough room on this site to bore you with all the details (including numerous ups and downs) of how we progressed to this stage, but I’ve profiled the Daytona Live! project in Daytona Beach a few times on this blog – here and here and here. With construction now “vertical,” everyone on the outside is beginning to see the fruits of our labor.

 

The office building, which will be the new world headquarters for International Speedway Corporation, NASCAR and Grand Am, is under construction and changing the landscape of W. International Speedway Blvd in Daytona Beach.  I snapped a few quick pics this morning so you could see the building a few months into construction. When complete, it will be 185,000 square feet spread out over 8 stories.

The other construction project I have been involved with on the fringe is our new church in Ormond Beach. Troy has dedicated his blog to progress on that project, so click on this link if you want to see the progress there too.

  

There are other aspects of my work that I will blog about in future posts, but there is a look into a project that has consumed the better part of 2 years!

 

Striving for the Best! -mwr

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