SBJ/March 12 - 18, 2007/Forty Under 40

Ed Bennett

ED BENNET
NASCAR

Ed Bennett
• Age: 38
• Title: Vice president, corporate
administration
• Organization: NASCAR
• Education: B.S., Florida State, 1990; MBA, Stetson University, 1995
• Family: Wife, Mindy
• Career: Spent seven years with Bank of America; has worked for NASCAR for nine years, being named to his current position in November 2000.
• Last vacation: Pigeon Forge, Tenn.,
in the summer of 2006
• Last book read: "Executive Intelligence,” by Justin Menkes
• Last movie seen: "Dale”
• TV show you never miss: "Grey’s Anatomy”
• What’s on your iPod: A mix from Jimmy Buffett to Kenny Chesney to U2
• Pet peeve: People who don’t follow through. If you’re supposed to do something, do it.
• Greatest achievement: Design, construction and opening of the NASCAR R&D center, and negotiating the final agreement for Toyota to enter NASCAR
• Greatest disappointment: Not coming to NASCAR sooner. Looking back, coming here five years prior would have been a fun time to be here.
• Best sporting event you’ve ever attended: Daytona 500
• Fantasy job: Surgeon
• Executive you most admire: NASCAR’s Bill France Jr.
• Business advice: When planning, think of every scenario that can go both right and wrong.

On a given day, Ed Bennett might find himself negotiating a deal with Toyota. The next day, he might be coordinating security for a convoy of haulers moving into Mexico.

From his chair, Bennett, NASCAR's vice president of corporate administration, touches nearly every aspect of the $3 billion France family business.

"I'm involved in everything from planning to budgeting to contract negotiations," Bennett said. "I have a list of projects and objectives on different timelines and I have to keep everything moving along. The thrill for me is being part of a new partnership that will help and grow the industry."

Two of Bennett's greatest successes have involved taking NASCAR out of the U.S. He launched and currently oversees NASCAR's international division, and two of his first projects were a NASCAR exhibition race in Japan in 1998 and a Winston West Grand National race in 1999. Bennett coordinated everything from the sanctioning agreement with the race promoter to broadcasting, promotional materials and licensed products.

He also played a significant role in NASCAR's effort to take a Busch Series race to Mexico City, beginning in 2005, by handling the sanctioning agreement, TV requirements, sponsor relationships and logistics. Bennett also led NASCAR into partnerships with racing series in Mexico and Canada.

"Starting with the Japan project really was a hard job, but a good first job because I got a chance to touch all aspects of the sport," Bennett said. "Since then, I've learned that you've got to have a partner in the market. You've got to have a year-round presence. It's good to have a big event, but you've also got to have an authentic grassroots marketing platform that stays there year-round."

This year, NASCAR will expand into Canada by taking a Busch race to Montreal this summer. While some have perceived this move as a precursor of more international races for NASCAR, Bennett said his objective is to make sure the two in place are hits before expanding further.

"We want to make sure that what we've established is successful," he said.

A decade ago, Bennett was deep into a career at Bank of America. What he saw at NASCAR, through an evolving relationship with Paul Brooks, NASCAR's senior vice president and eventually Bennett's boss, was more of an entrepreneurial role "that would challenge me more," he said.

"It's done that ... and added some gray hair, too."

— Michael Smith

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