Announcing The Inaugural Racers Forum Presented By R3
Oct 10, 2023
Members from every facet of the racing industry were on hand at the inaugural Racers Forum on Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and what resulted were incredible conversations about what makes the industry tick these days, and what the future holds.
The collaboration of every facet of the NASCAR Industry was on full display at the inaugural Racers Forum Presented by R3 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Tuesday afternoon.
The event, which was held by the Race Team Alliance (RTA), and its member teams, held several impactful panel discussions on everything from the evolving dynamics of team ownership in NASCAR to the ins and outs of the racing business, and there was even a very informative discussion about teams that participate in multi-series racing.
Overall, Tuesday's event was the perfect mix of serious hard-hitting questions and impassioned discussion on some of the biggest obstacles facing the industry today and the aspects where the sport is currently excelling.
The topics were on point, and the panelists selected to speak were among the most qualified within the industry.
The panelists included team owners, team presidents, drivers, track representatives, NASCAR representatives, and a very knowledgeable media manager.
The forum took place in the High Octane Theater at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and while the event was roughly two and a half hours, the informative discussions and flow of the different panels made the event feel like it flew by.
The general vibe of the Forum was positive, and the invitation-only guest list seemed to genuinely enjoy their time from start to finish. In fact, a massive portion of the members of the racing industry that turned out for Racers Forum stayed through the cocktail reception that followed the Forum in the Great Hall.
The event kicked off with The Evolution of Ownership panel, which was moderated by Abe Madkour, the executive editor of the Sports Business Journal. Madkour was joined by panelists Jeff Gordon, Vice Chairman of Hendrick Motorsports, Brad Keselowski, owner and driver for RFK Racing, and Heather Gibbs, co-owner of Joe Gibbs Racing.
This conversation touched on the ever-changing dynamics of team ownership succession plans in NASCAR, how the sport can better harness and elevate the star power of its drivers, as well as brainstorming how to get fans to connect with teams the way fans of other sports (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, etc.) connect with their favorite team regardless of who the players are.
The opening panel was followed by another star-studded lineup, which discussed The Business of Racing.
This panel was moderated by Danielle Trotta of SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and featured panelists Torrey Galida, of Richard Childress Racing, Steve Lauletta, of 23XI Racing, and Steve Newmark, of RFK Racing.
The conversation revolved around the ever-changing mindset around partnerships, and sponsorships in the sport today. The teams are all tasked with maximizing return for partners, and doing whatever it takes from a hospitality standpoint and content standpoint for their partners. Hearing the different ways that all three of the panelists handle situations on the business side of the sport was quite fascinating.
The massive changes to the NASCAR schedule over the last few years were also a major talking point. All of the panelists agreed that the schedule no longer being stale is a big component of the sport trending in the right direction.
Another topic discussed was the incredible surge in diversity among the NASCAR fanbase over the last several years.
After a brief intermission, Rick Allen of NBC took the stage to moderate a panel on Multi-Series Racing. The panelists were again a massive list of hard-hitters as Tim Cindric of Team Penske, Ray Evernham of Ray Evernham Enterprises, Chris Rice of Kaulig Racing, and Rick Ware team owner of Rick Ware Racing discussed the wild world of race teams that compete in several different disciplines of auto racing.
Following the event, Rick Ware admitted that he was nervous heading into the discussion, but the team owner more than held his own in the discussion. He and Cindric explained the nuances of juggling different manufacturers and conflicting sponsors across various racing series, while Evernham and Rice offered their expertise in the area as well.
Rice also reaffirmed previous comments that Kaulig Racing intends to field a late model entry in the near future. It was a fun conversation from start to finish.
The event wrapped up with the Building Mutual Value panel, which was moderated by Peter Jung, Chief Marketing Officer of NASCAR. Jung was joined by panelists Julie Giese, President of Chicago Street Race, Jessica Fickenscher, Chief Experience Officer of Speedway Motorsports, Ty Norris, president of Trackhouse Racing, and Will Pleasants, Managing Director of Wasserman Media Group.
While this discussion was the final one of the day, it possibly had some of the best talking points of the day.
The panel discussed the collaboration between NASCAR, the teams, and the tracks in building mutual value for all within the industry including the fans.
Ty Norris explained that the Chicago Street Course race was a prime example of what is possible if every facet of the sport pulls together.
The team president explained from NASCAR envisioning the track in downtown Chicago to the drivers and teams supporting the event in any way possible, and NASCAR even working with Trackhouse on the quick approval of eventual race winner Shane Van Gisbergen to compete, every piece of the sport came together and the race was a smashing success -- aside from the weather, of course.
It was a powerful discussion to end what was a productive day at Racers Forum where the who's who of the sport were talking about what's right, and what's wrong in the industry today, as well as what is crucial to keep the needle pointing upward for the racing industry.
Photo Credit: Will Bellamy, Racing America