SBJ/February 9 - 15, 2004/Careerspeople

Former driver now steering the operation at Performance Motorsport

Driving a race car and running a motorsports company are two professions that rarely have integrated job responsibilities. Gary Rubio is discovering just how different they really are.

A former CART and Sports Car Club of America driver, Rubio has moved his business learning curve into high gear since being named president of Smithtown, N.Y.-based Performance Motorsport Inc.

He will oversee all activities involved with Performance Motorsport, including its sport compact drag racing team and its retail operations. The company will compete in three series in 2004: National Dirt Racers Association, National Hot Rod Association and IDRC.

Rubio will maintain his positions as vice president and executive owner of two Nissan dealerships in the Long Island, N.Y., area.

What is the biggest challenge of your new position?

Seeing what markets we need to be in that are going to bear the most profitability for the company. A lot of things are going on in the market right now, and the challenge will be to anticipate or find whatever the new trend in automotive technology is going to be.

What is your business philosophy on your industry segment?

We try to give customers what they want and try to see where they want to go. We pride ourselves on our quality of our work, and if we don't know much about something, we try to learn it.

What are your strengths?

I think I'm a good team builder. Without a good crew behind you, you're really not going to get too far. I have a lot of enthusiasm, and I love what I do. Also, I've found that happy people do more work, and I like to have that happy and creative environment.

What areas do you want to improve in?

Cash flow is extremely important, like with any business. A lot of our customers are very Internet savvy, so we try to appeal to their needs with our Web site. We want to get our name out there, we want to pay the bills with a positive cash flow and we want work to be done right.

What are two things you wish you could change about sports business?

I think in every professional auto series, it's expensive, but it has always been that way. I think the biggest thing you have to realize is it's a business and at the same time, you can't lose sight of the reason why you're doing it. Also, it's important to respect and remember that we get paid from fans, spectators and a media presence.

What is your career advice?

A business background will always help. I have some business, but not as much as I'd like. I feel at this point in my life, to have a more formalized business study would really help. It's one thing to have the desire, it's another thing to know how to do business correctly.

Having been a CART driver, do you think there are any business lessons learned from the recent CART-IRL saga?

Open-wheel racing is a difficult task. Everything truly depends on the market that supports the series, and in the American market and audience pool, there just doesn't seem to be a lot of room for two competing series. I think IRL puts on a great show, and they've gotten really good at setting an example. However, a lot of open-wheel guys have gone to NASCAR because it's a professional deal, unlike some of the happenings in the open-wheel.

Recent accomplishment you are most proud of?

Getting back into racing. I'm glad to be back. Once you're a racer, you're always a racer. It's a lot of work, but it's certainly enjoyable.

Alisha Puckett is research associate for The Sports Business Daily, a sister publication.

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