One on one from the track with Brian Regnerus, at 26 years of
age and presumably the youngest Public Relations Coordinator of
a major racing facility in the US, events in his life have
contributed to shaping his career to what it is today, and
certainly we will be the catalyst that will propel him up the
chain of command in the industry of producing racing
AUTORACING1: Good morning Brian and thank you for taking the time to sit
with us to shed some light on who you are and how you achieved
the success you are enjoying here at ChicagoLand. Let's start by
telling us a little about who Brian Regnerus is and how he got
to where he is today.
BR: Well when I talk motor sports, I am talking passion. People
who are REALLY involved have the passion and I’m no different.
There are events in my life that propelled me and which
sticks out in my mind is my uncle raced at the Santa Fe Speedway
(a track located at one time in rural Hinsdale, Illinois). When
I was 13 years old, my uncle called me and said “how would you
like to go to a race?” I had never been to a race and had never
even watched it on television.
AUTORACING1: What is you uncle’s name?
BR: Pete Kowalczyk. It’s an extremely Polish name. The first
race he took me to was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Milwaukee
Mile. I had no idea what I was getting into. When we got to the
track, and it’s a smaller speedway, but you still have all the
merchandise, all the haulers, all the race fans walking around,
I mean it was electric. I was hooked. We sat down in turn four
and when I looked out at the track I thought this is incredible.
My uncle walked me down to the fence at the edge of the track
and I remember the cars zipping past me. I had goose bumps the
size of Mount Everest. After that I started following Jeff
Gordon. He was the first guy I latched onto as a fan. So my
uncle was the one who taught me about auto racing. My next trip
to a track with my uncle was Indy, for the second Brickyard 400.
I spent 8 hours just standing right on the fence line along pit
road where the drivers pull off and I just stayed right there
watching every driver. There was something about that which made
me think I don’t want to be standing here, I want to be on the
other side of this fence.
AUTORACING1: Motor sport as a business, is it seen in a different light
than how fans view it? You are now on the “other side of the
fence”. Is this sport really for the fans?
BR: I came into motor sports being a fan, so anytime I do
anything in my job my first gut reaction is always what is the
average race fan going to like, what is the average race fan
looking for. I was that little kid standing on the other side of
that gate saying I want to go meet Jeff Gordon, I want to go
meet Dale Earnhardt, I want to see what happens in there.
Granted, not everybody will have that type of access. However,
at ChicagoLand Speedway, look at our Expo Village, our
Hospitality Village, Merchandise Row area, we offer the race
fans so much access to the drivers by getting them out there to
the track to do autograph signings; anytime I approach anything in
this business day in and day out I still think about the average
race fan and what do they want to know. I also am the ChicagoLand Speedway Webmaster so I am always thinking about
what they will like.
AUTORACING1: Critics often refer to auto racing as an event rather than
a sport. What would you offer as a testimony on why drivers are
BR: I recently read an article that listed what was and was not
a sport. Sports in the list included Ping Pong, Tennis, Hot Dog
Eating Contests. You know the whole argument of what is and is
not a sport is all relative to what you think a sport even is.
If a sport is what an athlete needs to excel in terms of
strength, stability, 20-20 vision? I don’t know how you could
not consider auto racing a sport. What a race car driver has to
go through for 3 ½ to 4 hours, the common person could not do.
Look at Michael Shumacher. He is probably one of the most fit
drivers in the entire world. He is capable of running a
marathon. The guy's resting heartbeat is incredible. That to me
is an athlete. It's somebody who excels physically in their sport
beyond what the common person can even achieve. Jeff Gordon,
Dale Earnhardt; some are driving in circles some on road
courses, put the common person in the car and they could not do
it. Just because you can get on an Interstate and go 80 MPH does
not mean you run on a track with 43 other guys and battle
side-by-side for 3 ½ hours in 140 degree heat.
AUTORACING1: Let's talk about your career. When did you decide to make
Public Relations a career?
BR: My mom and I have so similar personalities. Every time we
would talk I would tell her I wanted to do something in sports.
I started detailing cars at an exotic car dealership. I kept
telling her I wanted to do something. She would tell me
something will open up, you’ll see. I started to like racing
even more. I attended several colleges in the area and that’s
where I discovered that public relations was a good fit for me.
I ended up at the College of St. Francis here in Joliet where I
majored in advertising and public relations. At that time
ChicagoLand Speedway track was being built. I had no idea it was
being built. My uncle, again, called me and said “Hey next
summer, they are opening up this speedway and they are looking
for volunteers. Why don’t you and I, and my cousin Jim,
volunteer, watch the race, you know etcetera, etcetera.” I said,
“Volunteer? Heck I am going to call and see if they have a
job!” I called over here and told them I was in school and
looking for an internship, would work for free, I’ll do whatever
you want me to do. Talked to Brian Crichton, my boss, and he
said “This is my first day on the job, so I don’t exactly have
an internship program available, why don’t you call me in six
months.” Six months to the day I called him back and said I’m
still looking for an internship, I would love to talk to you.”
Went in there he and I kind of sat down, and he said, “Alright,
you’ve got an internship.” Ended up, worked there for about a
month, got all my hours in and he hired me in May of 2001. So
there's just that door that opened up.
AUTORACING1: Brian, thanks so much for your time today.
The author can be contacted
Go to our
to discuss this article