SBJ/July 23 - 29, 2007/This Weeks News

Lauletta joins the team at Chip Ganassi Racing

When Chip Ganassi hired Steve Lauletta to be the president of his racing organization, it was yet another indication of how racing teams are looking for their leaders to come from the business world instead of the racing world.

Lauletta, who has experience on the venue, client and agency sides, most recently as president of Radiate Sports, will oversee the business operations of Ganassi’s NASCAR and IndyCar teams, it was announced last week.

“It’s big business now and that’s how you have to run it,” Lauletta said. “You see George Gillett coming in and Fenway Sports Group coming in. It’s a changing environment. These are multimillion-dollar businesses and it takes a lot of finances from sponsors to make them effective.”

Juan Pablo Montoya is among the drivers for
Chip Ganassi Racing in the NASCAR ranks.

In addition to Gillett buying a majority of Evernham Motorsports, a deal that will be announced soon, and FSG buying half of Roush Racing, Dale Earnhardt Inc. hired Max Siegel, an entertainment and music executive, earlier this year to be the company’s president.

“Everybody gets so caught up in what happens for three hours on Sundays,” Ganassi said. “But there is so much more outside the results of the race that often get overlooked. Those are sophisticated demands and responsibilities that require professional people. We’ve got 400 people and it’s a tall order to manage that.”

For Lauletta, who previously oversaw Miller Brewing’s sponsorships and worked at Road Atlanta before running Radiate Sports, it also was a chance for him to be embedded with a team for the first time.

“When I was at Miller, we won a lot of races with Rusty Wallace,” he said. “In some ways, you feel a part of it, but you’re not really a part of it. Now I will be.”

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