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SBJ/February 28 - March 6, 2005/Forty Under 40
Published February 28, 2005
PAUL BROOKS, NASCAR
BY SCOTT WARFIELD
In the middle of every major NASCAR deal, from the sport’s $2.4 billion network TV deal to Nextel’s $750 million sponsorship, is a former paramedic helping breathe life into it.
• Age: 39
• Titles: Senior
vice president, NASCAR; president, NASCAR Broadcasting and NASCAR Digital
• Education: High
• Family: Wife,
Kelly; children, Olivia and Kasey
• Career: Worked
for the Campbell County (Va.) Rescue Squad as a volunteer emergency medical
technician and cardiac technician from 1982 to 1984; was a nationally registered
paramedic with the Lynchburg (Va.) Fire Department from 1984 to 1989; joined
Charlotte-based RMG/Bobby Hillin Racing in marketing and sales in 1989;
was manager of special projects for Charlotte-based Griggs Publishing Co.
from 1990 to 1993; joined NASCAR in 1993 as marketing services coordinator;
named NASCAR manager of special projects in 1994; was NASCAR's director
of special projects and publishing from 1995 to 1998; named NASCAR senior
director of special projects worldwide in 1998; served as NASCAR vice president,
office of the president, from 1998 to 2000; became vice president of broadcasting
for NASCAR and NASCAR Digital Entertainment, opening NASCAR's Los Angeles
office in 2000.
• Last vacation:
• Last book read:
"Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" by Malcolm Gladwell
• Last movie seen:
"The Bourne Supremacy"
• Greatest achievement:
Personal, my family; professional, the role I played in NASCAR's television
• Greatest disappointment:
From the NASCAR perspective, it was losing Dale Earnhardt.
• Fantasy job:
Secret agent 007
• Executive most
admired: Bill France Jr.
• Business advice:
Be yourself, work hard, learn every day and be true to who you are.
“The deals he’s working on, most people will read about next year,” said George Pyne, NASCAR’s chief operating officer. “He is in the middle of everything.”
Brooks, 39, came to stock car racing after seven years working with a Virginia fire department as a paramedic. He came to Charlotte in the late 1980s and soon thereafter began helping former driver Bobby Hillin find a sponsor for his race team. Four years later, after a stint with Griggs Publishing, Brooks joined the NASCAR family, where he would soon meet France, a man who would change his life forever.
“I was fortunate enough to come on board with him and we just share a lot of similar thinking and philosophies and approach, and it just became a great opportunity for me,” Brooks said. “And I’ve essentially been with Brian ever since.”
It’s this relationship with France to which Brooks credits most of his success.
“It’s been terrific,” he said. “He’s a great leader, a great visionary.”
The way Brooks describes France is the way everyone else describes Brooks.
Brett Yormark, NASCAR’s former vice president of corporate marketing, said Brooks is an “unassuming, great, consistent leader who is also a great guy.”
Turner Entertainment President Mark Lazarus said Brooks’ long-term vision is responsible for a lot of the growth of NASCAR in the last several years.
“He’s got a longer-term vantage point of where his business needs to go, and he takes steps to implement that,” Lazarus said.
Brooks said he looks up to five years out when thinking about the future of the sport.
“What I do a lot, week in, week out, is look into the future and look down the road and look three, five years out across the company as a whole, looking at all the areas and issues that we as a company and a sport need to be focusing on,” he said.
So where will the sport be in five years? Brooks sees continued growth and popularity for NASCAR.
“You will see NASCAR in 2010 like never before on the international stage through television, through media, but also through events and hopefully through the outgrowth of NASCAR in the international markets as a brand and a sporting league,” he said.
NASCAR is not likely to become Formula One, with races in different countries and on different continents, because Brooks believes there are plenty of locales to explore in the United States, specifically in the Northwest and on Staten Island, where International Speedway Corp. is working toward building a racetrack.
“I think that will have happened and we will be racing within the view of New York City, and I think that is going to open up probably more than any of us really realize,” he said.
NASCAR’s television deal, which Brooks helped structure with Fox and NBC/Turner in 2001, continues to pay off for NASCAR and its fans. In every year since 2001, season ratings have increased, with final household ratings up 2 percent to a 5.0 average last year across all networks for the Nextel Cup Series.
And to ensure that those ratings don’t plateau, Brooks said NASCAR and its TV partners continue to find ways to enhance the broadcast. Fox announced last year that it will broadcast all NASCAR races in high definition this season, starting with the Daytona 500. NASCAR also has renewed its deal with In Demand for another two years to continue producing its “NASCAR In Car” product, which lets viewers view races on seven channels devoted to in-car cameras and statistics.
Brooks continues to look ahead, while not forgetting the interesting path that his career has taken.
“It’s been an amazing ride, and I’ve just continued every day to feel fortunate to have been a part of it,” Brooks said.
FORTY UNDER 40 HALL OF FAME
“Paul has been at my side working at NASCAR for over 10 years. He still is one of the best idea people I know.”
Brian France, CEO, NASCAR
“He doesn’t get riled when everyone around him seems to, on all sides of an issue. He is able to keep a demeanor and sensibility that helps smooth any trouble spots. … The role he’s played over the last five or six years as they’ve changed their television landscape and their competition landscape, I think he’s clearly had input and a longer-term focus.”
Mark Lazarus, president, Turner Entertainment
“Paul is a really good human being. He’s a guy who’s got a great vision for what needs to be done and he’s also somebody who is very creative and he uses all those skills to make things happen. His uses his people skills, he uses his vision, he uses his creativity, and usually when he puts all three of those things together, good things happen. And he’s worked on some of the bigger deals in sports. He’s worked with Bill France as his right-hand guy, he’s worked with Brian France as his right-hand guy, he’s run NASCAR’s broadcasting business for a number of years now, and so he’s worked in sports on some of the bigger deals. … He is really where the action is.”
George Pyne, COO, NASCAR