NASCAR's "Euro Racecar" Touring Series will benefit from additional liaison with NASCAR U.S. next year. (Benjamin Benanou/Auto News Info photo)
NASCAR has announced several revisions to its competition personnel structure aimed at strengthening and growing its racing series, while also promoting four senior executives.
The following changes will take effect in 2013:
• Joe Balash, who has served as the Nationwide Series director since 2004, will be assuming a new role as international competition liaison. This position will be the NASCAR point of contact for competition-related matters relative to the Toyota (Mexico) Series, Canadian Tire Series, the Euro Racecar, Touring Series and other international competitions and series in which NASCAR might be involved and/or considering involvement. Balash will report to Richard Buck, who has been promoted to managing director, competition Grand-Am and managing director, Touring Series, NASCAR.
• Wayne Auton, who has served as the Camping World Truck Series director since 1995, will assume the role of Nationwide Series director. Auton will continue to report to John Darby, managing director, competition and Sprint Cup Series director.
• Chad Little, currently Whelen Modified Tour Series director and director of racing development, Mexico, will serve as Camping World Truck Series director. Little also will report to Darby.
• Brad Moran, currently Canadian Tire Series director, will serve as director of Touring Series, NASCAR, reporting to Buck.
With the increasing integration between NASCAR, Grand-Am, American Le Mans Series and Euro Racecar, NASCAR Touring Series, these moves are designed to strengthen all of the sport's racing series, both at the national and international levels.
"We recently completed a thorough, strategic review of all of our racing series and believe the changes we're announcing will further strengthen our overall racing and offer us the best opportunity for growth," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. "Joe [Balash] is terrific at building relationships with track operators, sponsors and other key stakeholders, and he will be an excellent fit in his new role. I'm also pleased our system allowed us to promote our talent up the ranks, as is the case with Wayne [Auton], Chad [Little] and Brad [Moran]. I think this shows that we have a great deal of depth in our series director leadership roles, and these moves reflect that depth and versatility."
George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president for regional and touring series, highlighted that these moves will aid NASCAR as it continues to focus on expanding its reach beyond the United States.
"Our sport is ever-evolving, and we plan to grow in regions of the world where an increasingly strong appetite exists for NASCAR racing," Silbermann said. "Joe [Balash] certainly will help us achieve our international goals, which not only include conducting our existing series at a best-in-class level but also attracting new partners for global exhibitions and/or series."
The Toyota (Mexico) Series will race on U.S. soil fore the first time in 2013, when it kicks off its season March 1 at Phoenix International Raceway. The Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 is also growing in popularity, and the first season of "Euro Racecar, NASCAR" in 2012 "exceeded expectations," NASCAR says.
NASCAR followed these changes by announcing the promotions of four senior executives across the company. Ed Bennett has been promoted to senior vice president, with Kim Brink, Jim Cassidy and Zane Stoddard promoted to vice president.
Bennett also retains his roles of chief administrative officer and president/chief executive officer of Grand-Am Road Racing. Cassidy, Stoddard and Brink lead key areas of racing operations, entertainment marketing and NASCAR's brand marketing initiatives with integral roles in the implementation of NASCAR's five-year Industry Action Plan.
"These dynamic, forward-thinking leaders all have made significant contributions to NASCAR," said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. "As NASCAR's CAO, Ed has demonstrated an ability to look strategically across the enterprise for areas of opportunity and development, as evidenced by the critical role he played in the merger of sports car racing's two marquee sanctioning bodies – Grand-Am and the American Le Mans Series. Kim, Jim and Zane are shaping how we go to market with key initiatives designed to assist in reaching new audiences and enhancing our on-track product."
Bennett continues to head up corporate administration. In 2012, he became the president and CEO of Grand-Am, which recently completed its merger with the ALMS, in addition to assuming operation of Road Atlanta and Sebring International Raceway. He joined NASCAR in 1998 to lead key initiatives such as the Japan/International project and pivotal negotiations for sponsorship and licensing. Bennett was promoted to vice president in November 2000 and to vice president and chief administrative officer in January 2008.
During his tenure at NASCAR, Bennett was charged with finalizing Toyota becoming a national series manufacturer; led the acquisition of CASCAR, which was simultaneously rebranded as the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series; was instrumental in the development of the Toyota (Mexico) Series; played the lead role in designing and constructing the R&D Center; and created the development concept for the NASCAR Plaza building; along with all other company office facilities. Bennett also was responsible for corporate administration, corporate events, human resources, information technology and other corporate departments and served as appellate administrator of the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel.
Cassidy, formerly managing director of NASCAR racing operations, joined NASCAR in 2000. In addition to overseeing several core areas of racing operations, he is playing a substantial role in the product relevance plank of the IAP. With motorsports experience spanning 20 years, Cassidy began at NASCAR at the grassroots levels before being promoted to roles in the national series as senior manager, business operations and then director, events and operations. He transitioned to overseeing the day-to-day business and strategic direction of the three national series, including ownership development, event scheduling and the expansion of the sport to Mexico and Canada.
Cassidy helped implement the shift in identity in the Nationwide Series, leading to the rollout of new car models and the "pick-a-series" format. He was instrumental in developing the new point system, the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and in implementing enhancements along the way, including adding the "wild-card" element to the Chase in 2011.
Stoddard, formerly managing director of entertainment marketing, joined NASCAR in 2010. He currently oversees NASCAR's Los Angeles office and its entertainment marketing division and is responsible for leading the youth plank of the IAP and company content strategy.
At NASCAR, Stoddard has overseen the placement of NASCAR driver and storyline integration into more than 85 television shows; procurement of major artists for NASCAR events, and has several original projects in development at major studios and networks. He established a partnership with the USO, which includes NASCAR drivers visiting troops overseas. Prior to NASCAR, Stoddard launched the NBA's Los Angeles office and managed it for nearly a decade.
Brink, formerly managing director, joined NASCAR in 2011. In addition to her oversight of brand, consumer and series marketing, she is leading the Gen Y and multicultural planks of the IAP. She set in motion a re-energized "Everything Else is Just a Game" brand campaign that launched at the 2012 Daytona 500.
Brink also led a comprehensive review to secure a class-leading, full-service advertising agency, which attracted more than 100 agencies of all sizes and expertise and resulted in NASCAR's retention of Ogilvy. She joined NASCAR from General Motors. During Brink's tenure at GM, she helped conceive and launch multiple, award-winning creative platforms and developed powerful branded entertainment and sponsorship alliances.