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Fast Take   Story by Dwight Drum
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NASCAR triggers decisions, decisions (Part 1)

We all make decisions though many are not a part of our jobs, but when your job is making decisions it often indicates your choices will affect more people than the effects of any private options. When your job is executive level the effects of most decisions are certain to bring on consequences that are often multiplied many times. Since change is more inevitable than rare, decisions are unavoidable.

Reporter Dwight Drum quizzed NASCAR leaders President Mike Helton, Vice-Chairwoman Lesa Kennedy, NASCAR team owner J.D. Gibbs, Vice-President of Competition Robin Pemberton, Nationwide Series Direct Joe Balash, NHRA President Tom Compton and drag racing icon “Big Daddy” Don Garlits about their decision making process. Methods might seem as complicated as they are necessary, but big decision makers tend to have common means.

Mike Helton [NASCAR President]

You have made plenty of important decisions. Does the decision-making process every get easier?
“What makes it easier is that we have a lot more people involved in our decision making process, that makes it easier. When I first started with NASCAR it was me and Bill…or it was Bill…but over time in fairness of the enormity of everything that we do, we continue to add layers of support for the industry inside our company. There is a lot of talent there. And so we analyze decisions a lot more than we used to, so there is a lot of help in the decision-making process in NASCAR.

“You know what, the longer we stayed around you can make an argument that decisions are more complicated and therefore harder to make, but that’s why we created the R&D center in order to help us make decisions that we didn’t have 15 years ago.”

Success brings on a whole new environment, a new magnitude where change is also amplified. Yet a pattern to nature of business

life at top levels emerged from responses.

Lesa Kennedy [NASCAR Vice Chairwoman]

You’ve had to make plenty of decisions in your role at ISC. Do your decisions get easier over time?
“Well I don’t know if it gets easier, but it does change over time. I’m really fortunate to have a management team that requires a lot of input. I think that’s where you learn to count on a lot of resources. We get together in a room and go over a topic and exchange thoughts. At that point usually the decision will take the right form.”

Obviously the role one has can be vastly different from team owner, rules executive, president and legendary competitor, but responses illuminate some common elements.

J.D. Gibbs [Owner, Joe Gibbs Racing]

Does your decision making process get easier?
“You know. It doesn’t. Everything, whether it’s dealing with personnel, with parts and pieces, the budget, it’s all difficult. You’d think after a while it would get easier, so you wouldn’t have to worry about it. It doesn’t.

“Each decision you make involves a person, a partner, a sponsor, working with NASCAR, they’re all big deals. It doesn’t get easier like you think it would. It might be for my dad. He’s always going, ’Whatever.’ Like who cares, we’re going to do this. I’m still at the point where I want to make the right decisions and do it the right way.”

Decisions Part 2 is coming soon with comments from Robin Pemberton, Joe Balash, Tom Compton and “Big Daddy” Don Garlits.

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