Fontana track president Gillian Zucker takes job with NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers

1 Comment

One of motorsports’ most powerful women is trading in the race track for the basketball court.

Gillian Zucker, who has served as president of International Speedway Corporation’s Auto Club Speedway since 2005, has been announced as the new president of business operations for the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers.

“I am extremely happy to add a leader like Gillian to our team,” said Clippers team owner Steve Ballmer in a statement. “Her clear and creative business vision, innovative approach to marketing and experience working in the Los Angeles sports market make her the perfect fit to lead the Clippers during this transcendent time.”

The two-mile ACS currently hosts NASCAR and the Verizon IndyCar Series, which had staged its season finale there but will shift its 2015 appearance in Southern California to the end of June. NASCAR also ran a second fall weekend at ACS during Zucker’s tenure, from 2004 to 2010.

“What an exciting time to be part of the L.A. Clippers,” Zucker said in her own thoughts. “There’s something special happening in this organization that has captured the attention of Los Angeles, the NBA and the nation. [Team owner] Steve Ballmer’s energy and enthusiasm is contagious and inspiring. We are just getting started.”

As ACS president, Zucker was responsible for all of the track’s business units including marketing, public relations, ticketing, accounting and operations.

Prior to attaining that role, Zucker was vice president of business and development for Daytona International Speedway. She joined ISC in 1998 as director of business development for Kansas Speedway, and was soon promoted to vice president of operational development there.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
Align Media
0 Comments

ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”