NASCAR News

NASCAR Hall of Fame Announces Executive Director and Exhibit Design Firm

 

July 7, 2006

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TIM NEWMAN:   Good afternoon.  My name is Tim Newman.  I serve as chief executive officer of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.  We have an exciting set of announcements today regarding the NASCAR Hall of Fame which we are continuing to be on track with design and development to be open in the fall of 2009.  Two of the key pieces associated with that effort are, one, the selection of our exhibit design firm.  We are delighted to announce that Ralph Applebaum Associates out of New York has been selected as our exhibit design firm.  There was a lot of buzz recently in the local press about the National Constitution Center.  They happen to be the exhibit designer there along with Pei, Cobb & Fried, who are our lead architect.  The complete team that did the National Constitution Center will be working for us on the Hall of Fame.  They've also worked on the World Golf Hall of Fame which was met with rave reviews and museum there.  In addition, they did the Country Music Hall of Fame, which was one of the prototypes we looked at for the NASCAR Hall of Fame in terms of development.  They're working hard today so they could not be here in person, they're excited.  Those of you in the press will get the press release with all their information.  We're just delighted that Ralph Applebaum Associates has joined the team. 

The big, big news from our personal perspective, I'll take a moment of personal privilege and say that our office has served as kind of de facto executive director of the Hall of Fame since the announcement.  So we're very excited to be able to bring on a person who will do this on a day-to-day basis.  We went through an exhaustive process to select the executive director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  Did a very prominent public posting, a lot of national publicity around it.  Had hundreds of inquiries, a hundred plus legitimate candidates who posted for the position, interviewed 12 folks to bring it down to a short list of finalists that we interviewed.  I want to bring up now my colleague in this effort on behalf of NASCAR, Mark Dyer, who will tell you a little bit more about the selection process we went through and introduce our candidate.  Then we have a close friend who has joined us here who wants to say a few words as well before we let the candidate speak. 

Mark, if you'll come up. 

MARK DYER:  Thank you, Tim. 

You know, whether it's been the Charlotte effort to land the Hall of Fame to begin with or the important work that's been going on since our announcement this spring, we at NASCAR have consistently said that the citizens of Charlotte, of this region, this state, the millions of the NASCAR nation across the country, should be very proud in the way Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, the state, and the CRVA under Tim's leadership, the way they've approached this process.  They should be very proud of everything that's gone on up till now.  Today's announcement is another proud moment.  As one of Charlotte's own and one of NASCAR's own selected to lead the NASCAR Hall of Fame. 

Winston Kelley has had a 27-year management career at Duke Energy, 19-year career in NASCAR as a leading voice of MRN Radio.  He has the respect of the Charlotte and the Carolina region business community.  Very importantly, he's got credibility with millions of NASCAR fans that he will preserve the great history and tradition of this sport while also showcasing NASCAR for millions of people from across this country and around the world that will visit in the years to come. 

It's my pleasure to introduce the new executive director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the pride of Concord, North Carolina, Winston R. Kelley. 

TIM NEWMAN:  We're going to let the mayor of Charlotte, Pat McCrory, say a couple of words, then we'll bring Winston up, then follow with questions and answers. 

MAYOR McCRORY:  Tim Newman and his team did an exhaustive search across the nation for the executive director of the new NASCAR Hall of Fame.  I just think it's amazing and the right decision to find the best person who was right across the street all along. 

Winston I've known for over 25 years.  He brings tremendous business management experience to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  In addition, he brings a relationship and an understanding of both racing and of NASCAR.  I've seen it firsthand in observing Winston in the pits, knowing the teams, knowing the drivers.  That relationship is so important to us at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  In fact, relationships, especially with the fan base, is I think the strength of NASCAR in addition to it being a great sport. 

Winston brings all those qualities, all those values of NASCAR right here to Charlotte.  It's great that Winston Kelley is still remaining right here in Charlotte.  I'm proud to call him a teammate.  In the past, it was great to be a member of his team when we brought the NASCAR Hall of Fame to Charlotte.  It's great to be great being a member of your team in the future.  It's my honor to introduce Winston Kelley. 

WINSTON KELLEY:  Kind of goes without saying, this is the biggest professional day of my life.  Very seldom am I speechless, as folks know that have worked with me.  I'm quite humbled and quite honored.  I want to thank the team that has allowed me this opportunity led by Tim and Mark, the other members of the board of advisors of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. 

Winning the Hall of Fame was clearly a team effort.  You heard Mark reference it, led by folks like Tim Newman, the mayor, Cathy Bessant, Luther Cochrane, a number of members of the team are here,  Jan (indiscernible), John Tate, Ron Kimble, the folks from Lowe's Motor Speedway, Jerry Gappens representing them.  There were so many folks involved in winning the Hall of Fame, but designing it, constructing it and operating it will take an even larger team.  We're proud that NASCAR is now a part of that team because there's no brand that's any more popular that I know of anywhere in the world.  They obviously couldn't be on our team when we bid for it.  We're thrilled they're now a part of the team.  It will be an even larger team. 

I'm looking forward to being just one cog in that team, working with folks like Jim Schumacher and Ron Kimball, Pam Seifert, the folks at the city as we go through this whole process.  The CRVA staff.  One of the things that we said all along that brought a lot to Charlotte's bid is to have the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority right here next to what will be the Hall of Fame working here with the convention center, the experience of folks like Mike Crum , Molly Hedrick, that whole staff, Gena (indiscernible), everybody that will be a part of that team.  I've got a tremendous amount to learn from them, a tremendous amount. 

Just like at Duke Energy, I can tell I've got great teachers.  It's truly a dream job for me.  Mark mentioned having been with MRN Radio for the past 19 years.  I actually started dabbling in racing in 1981, but I grew up in a racing family.  I've never not known racing.  I know that's not great English, but my father was involved in racing from before I was even born.  It's been something I've been involved in all of my life.  But I'd be remiss if I didn't say that I've had a wonderful 27 years at Duke Energy.  I've had other opportunities to do different things.  I've had 13 distinctly different jobs at Duke.  My mother wondered if I could ever find a job, if they could never figure out if I could do anything. 

In all seriousness, I've never gone to work and dreaded it.  You know, are there days you would like to go to work and you'd rather be going to the golf course, getting on a motorcycle or doing something like that?  Are there things on your to-do list made you'd rather not do?  I can honestly say I'd never gone to work at Duke Energy and dreaded it.  That's been a true blessing for me. 

This was by far and away the hardest professional decision that I've had to make.  The folks at Duke, when this first came up, could not have been more supportive.  I'd especially like to acknowledge my immediate supervisor, who is our new president, Ellen Ruff, because she gave unwavering support and said she would support me in doing absolutely anything that I wanted to do, whatever I felt like was best for my career. 

There's some wonderful folks at Duke Energy that will still be our partners in this.  They truly embody the old logo that we had for years and years:  Citizenship and Service.  I appreciate the opportunity to work with them.  I couldn't tell you how many phone calls and emails I got when word got out today from my friends over there. 

I want to thank everybody for taking the time to come out today.  Thank you for your past support of the Hall of Fame.  One of the most memorable days I had with this process and with my career as a whole was when we hosted NASCAR here and when we left convention center to do the tour around Charlotte to see the incredible support that this community already has for NASCAR.  We know that will continue, so it's our job as stewards of the resources that we've been given to make the Charlotte region proud of this.  Together with this team, you have my personal pledge, I know everybody's pledge, that's been involved that we'll make the City of Charlotte, the Charlotte region, the state of North Carolina, and NASCAR very proud they selected Charlotte as the home of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. 

Thank you for coming out. 

TIM NEWMAN:  Happy to open for questions from the floor.  Let me answer a couple of things before they come up, because I'm sure they will. 

In terms of who was involved in the interview process, the NASCAR Hall of Fame advisory committee was mentioned.  Several of those are here.  Mark Dyer serves on that group, as I do, John Tate represents Wachovia Corporation, Blake Davidson from NASCAR, Ron Kimball from the City of Charlotte, Ted Lewis, who is the general manager of the Charlotte Convention Center, and two folks that are not here, Jim Schumacher, the city engineer and Cathy Bessant from Bank of America make up that committee. 

The established start date with the transition that Winston will be doing from Duke Energy we will figure out shortly.  After 27 years with that company, we're going to give them license to do whatever is necessary there. 

With that, we'll open it up for any questions that anybody might have. 

Q.  Will you still have your Motor Racing Network job? 

WINSTON KELLEY:  Yes.  We hope that will continue to be complementary with the community and NASCAR.  David Hyatt, our president and general manager, is very supportive of this, supportive of the Hall of Fame wherever it went.  Obviously, MRN wants to participate wherever it went.  David has been very involved. 

Q.  Can you still plug the Hall of Fame when you are in the pits? 

WINSTON KELLEY:  As much as I'll get to plug Wachovia. 

MARK DYER:  I would add to that, we at NASCAR encourage his participation with MRN.  This is going to be such a visible -- it's going to be the heartbeat of the sport, this facility.  The executive director is going to be the ambassador for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  Even though the search was Nationwide, we found the best candidate right here in the backyard of the Hall of Fame. 

I think his visibility on MRN is great.  We encourage it.  He may have some scheduling challenges, but he already has some.  Everybody in the NASCAR world has scheduling challenges.  We think it's a great thing him being on the network. 

TIM NEWMAN:  It was one of the things from my standpoint, as Winston's direct supervisor when he takes this role on, that will be a very valuable asset to have that will assist the role of executive director and certainly keep those relationships that we value alive for him. 

Q.  What is it timetable for getting things going, starting work on the various projects? 

TIM NEWMAN:  With the exhibit designer on board, we're into the details of the design and development process.  We expect that to continue the next year and be in the ground sometime spring of 2007, which would allow us to open by late 2009. 

A couple of folks who have walked in that I want to recognize, Yvonne Zito (ph) and Bruce White, give everybody a wave.  We didn't want to interrupt their work schedule too much.  If they want to say a few words about that process, we feel real good about where that process goes. 

As far as additional folks coming on board for the Hall of Fame, we will be making some hires in the sponsorship and operations areas later this year.  Just as we can with the Hall of Fame, all the positions will be posted on the CRVA.com website so folks can see when those positions come up. 

Q.  Has a decision been made on the office building? 

MARK DYER:  It hasn't.  We've all been busy on this project since we made the announcement in the spring.  We visited a lot of facilities as a design team already.  Winston will be jumping into the middle of that process.  As far as the corporate tower, we've made a lot of progress on the design and on all the details.  There's a lot of them.  We're still very optimistic that something can happen, but we're just not to the point where we can make a go or no-go decision.  I think that's coming in the next couple of months. 

Q.  What will your salary be? 

TIM NEWMAN:  That's a personnel matter and not disclosable, as all the personnel matters are with the authority.  If Winston wants to tell you, he can. 

Thank you all for coming out.  I think we'll break out for one-on-ones.  Winston, we're just delighted to have you join us.  Thank you. 

The author can be contacted at nascar@autoracing1.com

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