SBJ/October 22-28, 2012/People and Pop Culture

Bulls exec takes NASCAR track post

NASCAR hired a longtime executive from the Chicago Bulls to lead its track services division.

Jeff Wohlschlaeger spent 19 years with the Bulls as the director of game operations. He will join NASCAR’s industry services group, a 15-member team that serves as a liaison between the sanctioning body and the sport’s teams, tracks and drivers.

Wohlschlaeger will be the managing director of event services and report to Jill Gregory, NASCAR vice president of industry services. He will be based in Daytona and oversee the four-person track service division, which will work to help tracks improve the event experience by doing everything from helping secure drivers for autograph sessions to making recommendations about improving driver introductions before races.

“We’ve brought him in to bring a different perspective, some new ideas and some different experience with other sports and entertainment events, so that we can work with tracks to make the race-day experience the best it can be,” Gregory said.

Wohlschlaeger joins an industry services team that has tripled in size over the last two years. The division was started in 2007 to help support teams by serving as a direct contact for them at NASCAR and providing research and data collected by the sanctioning body. It added a track-services group in 2009 and is in the process of adding a driver-services group.

Gregory is searching for a managing director of driver services to lead that group. The group is critical to NASCAR’s goal of improving drivers’ awareness levels nationally, a goal outlined in the organization’s five-year action plan designed to address key issues facing the sport. That position will be based in Charlotte.

“We want to provide as many resources as we can to our drivers and tracks, the same way we do with teams,” Gregory said.

NASCAR has hired several executives over the years with connections to the Bulls and Chicago White Sox, both of which are owned by Jerry Reinsdorf. Eric Nyquist, vice president of strategic development; Marc Jenkins, vice president of digital media; and Betsy Grider, senior director of strategic marketing, all worked for those organizations.

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