Jimmy Small ready to lead Iowa Speedway
December 12, 2013, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
A new generation in NASCAR leadership formally took shape Thursday when 28-year old Jimmy Small was introduced as president of NASCAR’s newly acquired facility, Iowa Speedway.
Small, who holds an economics degree from Notre Dame, has charged up through the corporate ranks at NASCAR and calls his new post "a dream come true" while assuring he’s up for the task after spending the last six years working in wide-ranging capacities for the sanctioning body.
"I definitely feel I’m capable and ready to take on such a great responsibility," Small said, pointing to his experience working in NASCAR’s Industry Services sector.
"I was dedicated to learning every bit of the business from a team perspective while also focusing on the Industry Action Plan and how it would affect our sport for years to come. A lot of what I’ve focused on the Industry Action Plan was how to better the fan experience and I believe that I’m well-rounded in terms of my experience and knowledge of the sport and how it works."
Small counts NASCAR’s Executive Vice President for Racing Operations Steve O’Donnell and Vice President, Industry Services Jill Gregory among his mentors throughout his tenure.
O’Donnell said Thursday of Small, "Iowa is getting a great person and true innovator."
Gregory spoke of Small’s "passion" to lead the track into the future.
Small was introduced to Iowans on Thursday in Des Moines and then headed to Newton for a special gathering for suite holders at the track.
"It feels good to be able to tell people what I’ve been working on," he said.
No doubt NASCAR is hoping to capitalize not only on Small’s education pedigree and diverse experience within the sport, but on his ability to capture the next generation of fan and bring fresh innovative ideas to the promotion of this NASCAR facility.
"This is part of the next era of NASCAR as far as focusing on the next generation of fan and certainly with my passion, my vision at my young age I’m able to speak to the younger fan," Small said. "I’m able to really relate to them not just from a marketing perspective, but from all different aspects of the sport of NASCAR. And I certainly hope to do that."
In an interview this week, Small also named former Charlotte Motor Speedway promoter Humpy Wheeler and Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage as trailblazers in the sport and people that he respected in terms of track promotion.
But, Small said, he’s eager to develop his own style.
"It’s a little early for me to project what our ethos will be here at the speedway, but I will say that what led to my appointment of this position was hard work and second of all, creativity," Small said.
"I pride myself in being creative and finding new ways to promote this sport and some of that will be seen in the future. I’d like to say we’ll push the envelope here," Small said.
"One of the goals here with the acquisition of Iowa Speedway is to treat this as a proving ground not only from a fan engagement standpoint but from the promotional side as well. All that will ultimately be reliant on the market and what it dictates."
Small reiterated the immediate goals of the track are to make its three major 2014 race weekends -- featuring NASCAR Camping World Truck, Nationwide, and K&N Pro Series along with an IndyCar event -- successful. He didn’t rule out a Sprint Cup Series race at some point down the line at the 7/8-mile speedway, but told The Des Moines Register this week, that it would not happen in 2015.
"You can never say never, but not for 2015," Small told the newspaper. "Our focus is going to be on the popular series we already have."
In the long term, Small said, "the goals would be to be on cutting edge of promotion and creativity and everything involved there.
"Hopefully we’ll drive this sport to new boundaries and generate fan growth.
"It’s the biggest show in town and the fans have supported it since its inception which has been incredible."