The U.S. Motorsports Association (USMA) has been actively reaching out to the race and performance industry since the beginning of the pandemic. As part of that outreach, the organization has initiated several leadership teams to help navigate all forms of racing through the COVID-19 crisis including circle track, drag racing, motocross, media, and marketing, with plans to launch more teams as needed in the coming days.
The teams consist of experienced group of owners, promoters, executives, and media that span the spectrum of motorsports. The teams are diligently working on operational best practices, government relations, financial resources, marketing, media communications, and sponsor relations along with a resource page called the COVID-19 Toolkit that can be accessed by any racing facility, sanctioning organization, or event promoter. Check it out here: www.UnitedStatesMotorsports.com/toolkit
RacingJunk.com spoke to Shawn Stewart, Executive Director of USMA, about the Leadership Teams and what they are bringing to the table to help the industry weather this crisis.
RacingJunk: How did the Leadership Teams come about?
USMA: As various states began to close, we made several calls to public officials and learned early on that it was likely going to be a national shutdown. Shortly after the entire nation was closed we were getting flooded with calls from race tracks, businesses, sanctioning organizations etc. Then the U.S. government began talking about financial support for businesses. No one at the time really knew what that meant or who would benefit. It was about that time that, as an organization, we really went into action gathering information about the financial support options available and working with legislators to try our best to ensure that racing businesses would not be left out. We got information out about available relief funding options, but then things shifted to “How will the racing industry re-emerge and what will the “New Normals” be for racing?”
We were hearing from so many industry leaders and stakeholders who are all facing similar issues. There was information flying all over the place. Some was real, some was rumor. The USMA recognized we had an urgent need to unify a strong group that could navigate a path towards the re-opening of racing.
It started with a motocross group. Then we formed a Circle Group, Drag Racing Group, and more groups. What’s been so amazing is to see these team of industry leaders come together across the spectrum of racing. Many on our conference calls are competing organizations, but we all have the same challenges and the same goals. The one positive in this mess is that the racing industry can join together and do some really amazing work, and quickly. The calls are no-nonsense. We don’t get on and bitch and complain about politics or whatever. People on these teams are working hard, taking action, and moving things forward with a genuine interest of the greater good of all racing.
I’ve been in the racing industry for over 20-years and I’ve never seen anything come together like this.
RacingJunk: Who is involved and how did they come together?
USMA: We have a strong list of race tracks, sanctioning organizations, business leaders, health professionals, scientists, insurance and legal professionals. It’s really created a powerful group of minds with all kinds of ideas and perspectives. Even though our organization started the groups, I’m humbled to even be part of it.
RacingJunk: What are the main goals now?
USMA: The leadership teams have formed different agendas but they mostly revolve around 4-key areas:
- Make an economic case for the importance of racing’s return.
- Establish a written best practices health guideline.
- Create a Local/State Government Affairs plan of action.
- Shape a community outreach plan of action…It’s Safe to Race Campaign.
RacingJunk: What is the first project you’re working on?
USMA: Best practices is number one. Then demonstrating the economic importance of our industry.
RacingJunk: How can readers learn more about what you’re working on?
USMA: They can continue to visit the toolkit page: www.unitedstatesmotorsports.com/toolkit which will be updated often with new tools, templates and information.
RacingJunk: How can others get involved?
USMA: Two of the best things to do right now are:
1. Get registered with the USMA. It’s completely free and takes less than a minute. This helps us have strength in numbers as we present to local and state officials our size and scope.
2. Encourage your local track to be responsible and take the steps needed to present a positive image and be a good community partner. It doesn’t matter what you think of the situation from a political standpoint. But racing has to find a way from the back of the line to the front of the line, which is what our Government Affairs Director Robert Johnson started saying from day one.