Study: NASCAR drivers, CEOs share similar talents

1 Comment

NASCAR drivers are known for trading paint, spinning out rivals and are seemingly always ready for a fight.

And those are just some of the same elements that NASCAR drivers share with CEO’s of some of the best middle-market companies, according to a story on AllCapCorp.com.

Citing a study by Statistic Brain that compares what would seem like diametrically opposite fields, AllCapCorp.com noted “accomplished CEOs and NASCAR drivers are often recognized as the top performers in their respective industries, and they possess the courage to make complex decisions when challenges arise.”

Here are the top 6 shared similarities between those driving companies and those driving stock cars:

1. Cultivate the right combination of strategic talent to propel them to victory.

The study cited six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, team owner Rick Hendrick and crew chief Chad Knaus for their ability to recruit and hire the most talented and successful personnel “to do one thing – WIN.”

2. Possess the perseverance to rise from the ashes.

The example that Statistic Brain cited here is the resurgence of 2004 Cup champ Kurt Busch, who lost his ride with Team Penske after the 2011 season and how he’s rebuilt himself and his career since.

As Statistic Brain noted, “Like many middle-market CEOs, ‘the Outlaw’ wasn’t ready to give up his dreams when the world thought he was finished. Recognizing that his setback was driven by his own limiting behavior, he gave himself a ‘tune-up.’ … When facing such adversity, top CEOs act no differently. They are willing to work hard and develop creative solutions that allow them to overcome the most difficult of challenges.”

3. Learn from their mistakes.

The elder Busch brother was again cited, along with A.J. Allmendinger, who was suspended by NASCAR for failing a drug test in 2012.

Said Statistic Brain, “Savvy CEOs also understand the importance of learning from their mistakes and making adjustments when major setbacks ensue.”

4. Know that sometimes it pays to be friendly with the competition.

It’s better for drivers to be friends than enemies in NASCAR, because you can never have enough friends, particularly at places like Daytona and Talladega, where the nature of restrictor plate racing has led to a “one for all, all for one” mentality for many drivers.

It’s there that you see Ford drivers work with Toyota drivers, Chevy drivers with their Ford counterparts, and so forth.

“The same holds true for top CEOs who make alliances with the competition or seek synergy through middle-market mergers and acquisitions,” Statistic Brain said. “The best CEOs recognize their firm’s key strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of other players in their industry. This insight allows them to maintain integral relationships that drive optimum results and secure long-term success.”

5. It’s a family affair.

Not only is NASCAR still owned and operated by the France family, the sense of family as a whole is one of the most important elements of the sport.

That’s why so many drivers follow in the footsteps of their own racing fathers, with famous surnames such as Earnhardt, Elliott, Jarrett, Petty and more. Likewise, family is a key component of fandom in the sport, with oftentimes three generations of families attending races together at tracks around the country – or watching races together on TV at their own homes.

Said Statistic Brain, “Like NASCAR, many middle-market CEOs treat their businesses like a family, where multiple family members work together to run a company and make decisions about its future.”

6. Know it’s best to go out on top.

NASCAR drivers go through a lot in their careers. But the most difficult time is when they decide to hang up their firesuit for the final time and retire from full-time driving.

The Statistic Brain study cited Mark Martin and a story about him by FoxSports.com in 2013, in which Martin said, “No matter how hard you work at it, eventually Father Time will extract its toll from your skills.”

Added Statistic Brain, “Smart business owners know that the best time to sell is when their business is still going strong, and they can offer valuable insight during a transition to new ownership. They have a solid exit strategy in place, and are ready to pull the trigger and sell a business when the time is right.”

Unfortunately, some drivers remain in the game far too long and by the time they eventually do retire, many of their earlier-career successes and achievements are forgotten and replaced by the difficult struggles those same drivers had getting to their end-game.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Mario Andretti says Colton Herta could be next American star in F1

Leave a comment

Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.

If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.

“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”

The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.

Mario Andretti drives his Lotus-Ford to victory in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Bernard Cahier/Getty Images).

Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.

Scott Speed was the last American to run a full F1 season in 2006, and Alexander Rossi made the most recent F1 start by a U.S. driver in 2015. Rossi has said he has no desire to return to racing in Europe after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and becoming an IndyCar championship contender.

But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.

“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”

Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.

Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.

“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.

“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”

Mario Andretti with four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton before the Nov. 22, 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).

During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:

–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;

–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;

Mario Andretti Colton Herta
Mario Andretti and Kyle Petty saluted “The King” by wearing their Richard Petty-style hats during the latest “Coffee With Kyle” (NBCSN).

–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”

–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.

“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”

Watch the full “Coffee With Kyle” episode in the video above or by clicking here.

Mario Andretti looks on before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).