Cohesion, brand messaging improvement key for Hulman’s new hires

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Consider Mark Miles the head coach of the Hulman & Co. organization, and this football analogy describing IndyCar’s future strategy will work.

Miles, the head of IndyCar’s parent company, finalized his leadership team on Thursday with the hires of C.J. O’Donnell as Hulman Motorsports chief marketing officer, and Jay Frye as chief revenue officer. So consider these two part of the coaching staff: maybe your offensive (pushing the product) and defensive (protecting the financial bottom line) coordinators.

The rest of the coaching staff, as it were, are Derrick Walker (INDYCAR president of competition and operations), Doug Boles (president, Indianapolis Motor Speedway), Robby Greene (president, IMS Productions) Gretchen Snelling (general counsel) and Jeff Belskus (president, Hulman & Co.).

“We believe that that separateness led to a less than effective, than maximally effective way to deal with our stakeholders,” Miles explained during a teleconference on Thursday. “It doesn’t make sense to us optimally to segregate based on kind of the location. Really the businesses are part of the same industry, same ownership, and largely the same stakeholders and customers.”

Collectively, they’re the new administration working together for the first time as a group, to bring about change to a struggling organization.

IndyCar is the opposite of a bad football team, for example. It has a great product, but remains largely invisible to the general public. Whereas a bad football team, i.e. the Jacksonville Jaguars this year, puts out a bad product but still gets a decent ratings number both on local and national levels.

The task for Frye and O’Donnell, who have each turned around organizations and brands in the past, is to do likewise for IndyCar. You might be thinking, “Well, aren’t these two just the latest to try?” The initial message from the conference call was positive that changes seem legitimate in coming.

“It’s been really kind of unique since this was announced today, my phone has been blowing up, and a lot of them have been from friends of mine who are prospective sponsors,” Frye said. “So I think the opportunity is definitely there to do some really good things actually relatively quickly.”

The biggest task on the sponsor standpoint is finding a replacement for departed title sponsor IZOD.

“Once that partner is identified, that actually helps address a lot of the things we’ve talked about,” Frye explained. “One is activating the sport, one is promoting the sport, one is getting the fan engagement together, which is very important to the overall health of the sport. Really the first week we’re going to kind of figure out where we’re at, try to get the groups blended together, get a nice plan and goals and direction, and then once that’s done we’re going to hit it hard to go out and find a great title sponsor partner.”

O’Donnell added that beyond the partner activation, an the PR and marketing effort will be improved and enhanced.

“I’ve got definitive assurances of that,” he said. “In fact Mark and I have had several conversations about adding capacity to the organization to really develop it into a world‑class marketing and PR team.”

For O’Donnell, the chance to come full circle to Indianapolis is a dream come true after 20 years with Ford and associated brands.

“I have to add a passionate sort of personal note to this,” he said. “At one point in time in my life I had an aspiration of actually driving at Indianapolis, and I knew someday somewhere I’d get a chance to participate in the business.”

IMSA race at Daytona: How to watch, start times, schedule, TV info, more

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IMSA start times: For the first time in more than five months, Daytona International Speedway will have a sports car race as the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series returns to the same place it left off today (6 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

After being sidelined by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic since the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, the premier sports car circuit will wave the green again on its 2020 season today. But instead of the annual 24-hour endurance classic, Saturday’s WeatherTech 240 will be a “sprint race” around the 3.56-mile road course.

Here are the details for IMSA’s second race of the season at Daytona (all times are ET):


IMSA WeatherTech 240 at Daytona race information

TV: 6 p.m. NBCSN, NBC Sports App and TrackPass

RADIO: IMSA Radio will have live radio coverage throughout the weekend on IMSARadio.com, as well as Sirius Channel 216, XM 210, Internet 970

RACE DISTANCE: Two hours, 40 minutes around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway

FORECAST: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 88 degrees with a 51% chance of rain at the green flag.

ENTRY LIST: Click here to see the 26 cars entered in Saturday’s race.


IMSA weekend schedule: Friday, July 3

11 a.m. — WeatherTech Championship Transporter Load-In

1 p.m. — Garages open; pit lane equipment setup

6:15-7:15 p.m. — First practice WeatherTech Championship (all classes)

9:30 p.m. — Garages close

IMSA weekend schedule: Saturday, July 4

8 a.m. — Garages open

8:45 a.m. — Fuel rig inspection

10:15 a,m — 11:30 am — Practice (restricted by classes: 10:15-10:45 a.m., GTD Silver/Bronze; 10:30-11:30 a.m., DPi/GTLM; 10:45-11:15, GTD all drivers)

1:55 p.m. — GTD qualifying

2:20 p.m. — GTLM qualifying

2:45 p.m. — DPi qualifying

6 p.m. — Formation laps

6:10 p.m. — IMSA WeatherTech 240 at Daytona (2 hours, 40 minutes)

11:30 p.m. — Garages close