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Volume 21 No. 34
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Susan Schandel, NASCAR


uring last year’s NASCAR charter system negotiations, when things were getting tense and cooler heads were needed, it was a voice of experience that got things back on track.

Susan Schandel
Susan Schandel, longtime executive of NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. who serves as the sanctioning body’s senior vice president and chief financial officer, was an under-the-radar yet key player in the talks, which produced a new ownership system for the sport’s premium series. Schandel did no media appearances after the deal’s announcement early this year, leaving the spotlight for the likes of NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar. But executives involved say Schandel’s role should not be overlooked.

“She really was behind the scenes and didn’t try to put herself on the forefront or take a visible role in interactions with teams, but when you start digging deeper, she was a key player in getting something done,” said Steve Newmark, president of Roush Fenway Racing and a key player on the team side during talks. “She served as a great bridge between some of the historical ways of doing things at NASCAR and the new paradigm that I believe really needed to be implemented.”

Schandel earned a wealth of knowledge about the sport’s inner workings in the mid-1990s while traveling the country with NASCAR Chairman Bill France Jr. as ISC was preparing to go public. She eventually switched over to the sanctioning body.

While Dewar and Eric Nyquist, NASCAR’s senior vice president of strategic development, led negotiations, Schandel was always at the table, specifically helping on economic matters such as figuring out the purse that teams would receive annually.

“As with many businesses, you carry on tradition because that’s the way you’ve always done it,” Schandel said. “And having the ability to look back at my experience and understand why we were doing something the way we were, and do we really need to do it or could we change it — having that history and experience was definitely helpful.”

— Adam Stern

  • An attribute I look for when hiring: Enthusiasm: someone with a great attitude who is willing to work hard, listen and learn.
  • A networking tip I’ve learned: Be genuine. It’s easiest to establish and build on relationships that are authentic.
  • Biggest challenge I face working in sports: Staying on top of evolving technology, including consumption and social media habits of our fans, and measuring ROI on these activities.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Stretch beyond your comfort zone and don’t be limited by your job title. You’ll earn respect from others and create opportunities for yourself.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Condoleezza Rice. She’s brilliant in business, has transcended any gender bias, and plays an influential role in sports and education.
  • Most memorable sporting event attended: 1998 Daytona 500, won by Dale Earnhardt.
  • Causes supported: Efforts to improve the health and well-being of children, specifically via the NASCAR Foundation and Speediatrics, the racing-themed pediatric unit at Halifax Health.