Editor's Note: Klint Briney (below, LEFT, photo courtesy Tom Turke) is the CEO and founder of BRANDed Management, a sports management firm that represents IZOD IndyCar Series driver Jay Howard, among other athletes.
I've never written a public blog item and I don't expect to share one again anytime soon. I've written hundreds of journal entries and even authored a couple books, all in the voices of others.
I've developed many successful branding, marketing and PR campaigns to build the brands of others, while staying closely in the shadow, keeping the spotlight exactly on those who needed it most.
I'll never forget the excitement I felt when one of my clients ended up on a national talk show or how it felt to see a story you've pitched end up on the cover of the No. 1 newspaper in the country. The feeling of landing a multi-million dollar sponsorship program or for an idea to take off from infancy and turn into something bigger than you could have ever imagined, ending up in the hands of someone like Hillary Clinton.
In 2009 I was arranging for a big career change and quite frankly preparing for a divorce from a job I had been involved with for nearly a decade. I sat on the wall in pit lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway while my client was qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, listening to the car tour the track and the sound of the engine fading in and out. For the first time, I was actually taking the time to enjoy this month of May, trumping so many I had taken for granted over the years by being too busy to relish the many sights and sounds of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
As I was sitting there at IMS that year a close friend of mine had approached me and just happen to say, “Make sure you are taking it all in because when I was your age, I never took the time too.” This time I was.
It wasn't long after I met a flashy guy by the name of Jay Howard. He walked rather slowly, yet greeted you with the biggest smile I had ever seen. He was as humble as a product from Indiana might be; yet his accent quickly reminded you he was actually from England.
I knew of him from his winning the Firestone Indy Lights Championship in 2006 and thereafter from securing a ride with Roth Racing, who happened to be headquartered right next to my office just off of the famous Gasoline Alley.
I started following Jay's career like I did with Dan Wheldon back before he had secured his IZOD IndyCar Series seat. I really enjoyed the style of racing that the Formula Ford's provided and just after Dan had surprised so many by winning the championship, Jay too followed close behind by winning the title and breaking Dan's Series record for the number of wins in a single season.
I remember quite fondly Jay was easy to like, easy to talk to; his then-girlfriend, Courtney Nicoson, just the same. I must have put 15-20 marketing proposals together that summer of 2009 centered on Jay before one of them finally hit.
We were so lucky Jay and Courtney had thought to approach our team. At the time, we were focused on an oval-race schedule and were quietly looking to fill our road course schedule with a road racing ace.
Jay and Courtney had forged a personal relationship with TBC Retail Group, marketers of the Service Central brand. We collectively went down for a boardroom presentation to Service Central's headquarters just before jetting off to what would become one of Chicagoland Speedway's final IndyCar races.
At this time, I was juggling the responsibilities of my day-to-day job and on top of that, in the thick of executing a grand idea I had had for a partnership to promote Breast Cancer Awareness Month through a marketing alliance with Komen For the Cure.
It was shortly thereafter we had closed the deal for Service Central to sponsor Jay for the following season and the close to the current season had finally come.
By this time, I had already met with a dozen agencies across the country to detour my career path outside of professional auto racing. I was also entertaining a job to manage several sports partnerships on a national level for a high-profile corporation. My options seemed endless and yet, as I sat at dinner with Jay in Las Vegas during the SEMA show, I couldn't help but feel like I was slighting him for leaving my position and ultimately, leaving racing altogether.