BY JAMES HARPER
With the hopes of expanding its fan base to include more minorities, the International Speedway Corporation (ISC) announced this month the appointment of a Hispanic and Black to the company’s board of directors.
ISC CEO Lesa France Kennedy said last week in a press release that the corporation was welcoming nationally recognized marketing experts Sonia Maria Green and Larry Woodard to its board of directors.
The announcement of Woodard and Green comes after a series of stories published by the Daytona Times on the plight of minority contractors getting hired on million-dollar construction projects like the $250 million project the Speedway hopes to start later this year.
The Daytona Times’ April 4 issue reports that a spokesman for the Speedway said the company intends to implement a coordinated community outreach program, including advertising, trade fairs, training and meet-and-greet opportunities, to ensure all qualified local women and minority firms can participate in the $250 million redevelopment project.
In an April 10 statement, Kennedy said Woodward and Green’s “experience in advertising, branding and multicultural marketing will bring significant perspective and add tremendous value to ISC as we continue to grow our business and increase long-term value for our stockholders.’’
Kennedy is the daughter of William France Jr. and granddaughter of William France Sr., founders of the Daytona International Speedway. The father and son also started NASCAR and are owners of 12 other racing venues across the country, which are part of ISC.
Kennedy also noted that expanding the board has been a priority and the appointment of Woodard and Green are timely as ISC aligns with NASCAR and its ambitious Industry Action Plan.
The Daytona Times reached out to ISC spokesman Charles Talbert and asked if Woodard and Green are the first minorities ever appointed to the board.
“We have been public since 1959 and have had numerous board members over that time. I can’t confirm all of our board’s ethnicity. Sonia Green and Larry Woodard have a background in multicultural marketing,” Talbert responded.
“This is an area as Lesa mentioned in the release that is an important component of NASCAR’s Industry Action Plan. ISC is very much aligned in NASCAR’s efforts to see greater diversity in the sport.’’
Woodard founded ad agency
According to Nielsen research, the median age of NASCAR fans is 51.6, older than fans of every other major sport in the United States. NASCAR has created an Industry Action Plan to attract a multicultural audience, youths under 18 and the 18-to-34 demographic.
When contacted by the Daytona Times this week, Woodard, president, CEO and founder of Graham Stanley Advertising based in New York, remarked, “As I’m just getting started on the board, right now I’m looking forward to getting up to speed, asking a lot of questions and doing my best to shorten my learning curve so I can contribute as quickly as possible.”
“At the appropriate time, after I’ve been able to make some contributions, I would be happy to have a conversation with you about what I’ve been able to bring to ISC and I sincerely hope it will be evident by then as well,” Woodard added.
Woodard, an award-winning advertising executive with over 26 years of agency experience, founded his firm in 2010.
Prior to that, he was president and CEO of Vigilante Advertising, part of the Publicis, SA network of companies. Born in Casablanca, Morocco, Woodard spent time growing up in Germany and Italy.
He describes himself as a cultural anthropologist and an organic idea generator.
Green is VP at Broward arts center
Sonia Green is a nationally recognized leader in marketing and brand communications for over 20 years, with a specialty in multicultural/diversity marketing, according to the ISC press release.
“She is an acknowledged Latino corporate leader, and a trusted spokesperson on diversity and marketing issues for both Spanish and English language media outlets,” noted the press release.
Green currently serves as vice president of marketing and sales at the Broward Center for Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale. Prior to that position, Green was selected by General Motors to serve as its director of diversity marketing and sales with responsibility for the Hispanic and Asian consumer segments.
Green received a bachelor of business administration from Baruch College in New York City and completed a marketing management program at Columbia University’s graduate school of business.
Woodard will hold office until the 2014 annual meeting of shareholders, completing the term of Raymond Mason. Green will hold office until the 2015 annual meeting of shareholders, completing the term of Edward Rensi.
Recently re-elected to a three-year term were Edsel B. Ford, II, William P. Graves, Christy F. Harris and Mori Hosseini.
Blacks in NASCAR
NASCAR has been working to develop minority and female drivers through its Drive for Diversity program.
The number of Blacks having success in the sport has been miniscule.
Wendell Scott is the only Black driver to win a NASCAR race – in 1964. Willie T. Ribbs competed in NASCAR racing in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Bill Lester has been the only Black driver to start a Sprint Cup race since 1986.
Scott, Ribbs and Lester are the only Blacks that have raced full-time in the sport.
Darrell Wallace Jr., 19, became only the fourth Black driver in the 65-year history of NASCAR to race full time in a national series when he competed in the Camping World Truck Series at the Daytona Internal Speedway in February this year.
Wallace came up through the program and won six races in the lower-level K&N East Series from 2010 to 2012.