Nascar manager brings the sport to the largest motorsport stage in the world

Even the most casual NASCAR fan knows names like drivers Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt (both senior and junior) and Jeff Gordon and even NASCAR executives like Mike Helton or Bill France (both “Big” and “Junior”). These are the names of some of the people who have influenced the sport both on and off track and made it what it is today.

However, there is one individual who has been in the sport for 25 years, someone who has shaped the sport as much as these legends have, but it’s a name few are familiar with.

Gary Crotty, an attorney, became sports secretary and general counsel in 1995, at a time when NASCAR and International Speedway Corporation both still had interests in sports. He was appointed to the Board of Directors in 2006. During this decade, the sport saw tremendous growth and many changes. None of this would have happened without Crotty’s legal expertise and guidance through the minefield that corporate law can be.

However, they got through it. And having weathered the global recession in the middle of the first decade of the century (and a merger with ISC), NASCAR is now stronger than ever. Much of the success can be attributed to Gary Crotty, someone not well known to many outside of the boardroom. It turns out that’s fine with Crotty, whose style has always been about flying under the radar.

“That’s probably why I’m still here,” he joked. “What was the expression that it’s amazing how much you can achieve when nobody needs to be credited for it?

“I try not to be in the foreground, I’m kind of a backroom guy and I try to do things that way and let other people in front of the cameras.”

Coming to NASCAR came naturally to the Daytona Beach native. The law firm founded by his father represented Daytona International Speedway and his father became good friends with NASCAR founder Bill France Jr.’s son.

After graduating from the University of Florida, Gary worked in general and commercial law for several years before joining his father’s firm in the early 1990s. There he received a call from Lesa Kennedy, daughter of France Jr. and a NASCAR executive. She told Crotty that NASCAR was looking for a general counsel.

“She didn’t specifically say, ‘Are you interested?’ She just levitated that up there,” he said with a chuckle.

“I took the chance. I really didn’t like the private practice with the billing times and all that stuff. I really wanted to just focus on growing a business and not have to worry about burdening customers. Just immerse yourself in a business that back then, 95, 96, was really on the brink.

“I took the chance and never regretted it.”

In fact, he never looked back, only forward, and helped make NASCAR the largest motorsport company in North America.

Now Gray Crotty is gearing up to step onto what is perhaps motorsport’s greatest stage. It was announced last week that he had been elected by the General Assembly of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) as one of 36 judges for the FIA ​​courts. His term of office began on January 1 and will last until 2025.

He is the first NASCAR executive ever to be elected an FIA judge. For those who don’t know, the FIA ​​oversees the world’s biggest motorsport leagues; The FIA ​​​​is the licensing and sanctioning body of Formula 1, World Rally Championship, World Endurance Championship, World Touring Car Cup, World Rallycross Championship, Formula E to name a few.

In other words, most motor sports outside of America are overseen by the FIA, and NASCAR now has a representative that is part of it.

Crotty sits on the FIA’s International Tribunal, or International Court of Appeal. The International Court is the first instance of the FIA ​​and can hear disciplinary matters raised by the FIA ​​President. The FIA ​​International Court of Appeal is the FIA’s appeal body and deals with appeals against decisions made by various sporting and disciplinary bodies, such as stewards (race officials in NASCAR terms). In order to remain impartial, the FIA ​​International Tribunal and the International Court of Appeal act independently of the other FIA bodies and the FIA ​​Members.

While NASCAR does not follow FIA regulations, it is a member of the Automobile Competition Committee for the United States (ACCUS), the FIA’s national sports governing body, and acts as a link of sorts between them and American motorsport. It was George Silberman, President of ACCUS, who first approached Crotty.

“I have worked with Gary Crotty for more than 20 years and know him to be an honest and steadfast leader,” said Silbermann. “Gary will use his decades of experience and extensive knowledge in this role. He is fair, thoughtful and has a strong passion and knowledge of motorsport.”

Crotty will now have the best of both worlds. As a lawyer, he is entering the next phase in his long career that many lawyers aspire to: a chance to become a judge, someone who can make decisions that can affect many. For him it’s a chance to be an authority in the world he knows best, in motorsport.

“As you approach the 18th green and you’re looking at the next chapter of your life,” he said. “Hopefully, with everything I’ve learned and experienced in my 25+ years here at NASCAR, including IMSA ARCA, flat track racing and AMA, I can hopefully bring all of the above to this court.”

“It’s really a unique situation because I’ve been looking at our rule books on the NASCAR side, right? Our court procedures, how people appeal, the redress of the entire situation from beginning to end. And I’m not that familiar with the way they do it over there on the other side of the pond, the FIA ​​system.

“I’ve read their rule books; There are many things that are similar, but there are also many things that are different. And I’m fascinated by learning how they do things in similar and different ways. And hopefully I can contribute my experience in such a way that everyone involved benefits from it.”

One doesn’t have to look far to see just how much mainstream media attention the FIA ​​can generate. At the end of last F1 season, the Mercedes team protested the last race of the season. It was a case that would have been dealt with by the FIA ​​court system had it gone ahead. The team eventually withdrew their case, but the news was still being shared by many news outlets across Europe and the world for weeks after the season ended.

“Well, I hope this isn’t my first day on the job that you know I’m getting this massive controversy,” Crotty said, laughing. “It would be much better to head into this new venue.”

“I know there will be a learning curve,” he added. “Obviously there is a process of becoming familiar with their rule books and their technique; There is a training course, some seminars that I will go to to learn their process as well. But hopefully I’ll relax; learn the ropes a bit before I make a too big splash.

George Crotty will be on the greatest motorsport stage in the world and hopes to use that stage not only to help the FIA, but also to learn things that will benefit NASCAR.

“While NASCAR is primarily a US sport, some events are held in Europe, Canada and Mexico,” he said. “We also considered going to Asia. Anything that is helpful.

“Anything I can go over there and learn would be helpful as we expand beyond our own borders and bring back the way they do things differently over there. It might be something we could improve on this side of the pond. So I think hopefully it’s give and take and a mutual learning experience for both sides. And I can bring back some of those different ways of doing things that can benefit the growth of our sport here at home.”

Gary Crotty may be a name not many in the NASCAR world have heard, but for over 25 years he has worked behind the scenes to make NASCAR the success it is today. And while he may be approaching 18th green, he’ll be representing NASCAR on motorsport’s biggest stage, and his work may not be over yet; He can help the sport grow for many more years to come.

About Veronica Richards

Check Also

Mercedes planning British GP upgrades amid heightened expectations

With the feeling that the Brackley-based team are finally making progress in unlocking the potential …