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Making INDYCAR better … personally

February 28, 2012

No one could deny or claim we haven’t made mistakes along the way. We have. But our only goal every single day with IndyCar is to better it and make it stronger. We have fantastic drivers, we have outstanding teams, and partners willing to invest millions into the series in an effort to help this series thrive and ensure IndyCar will be here for another century.

- Randy Bernard, INDYCAR CEO
(State of INDYCAR address, February 13, 2012)

As a kid, I grew up with big dreams. I recall wanting to be a truck driver or bulldozer operator. It migrated as I became interested in sports. Baseball was my game, although becoming a BMX bike racer always sounded cool, too. Of course, I also had visions of driving in the Indy 500 against A.J., Mario, and “Lonestar J.R.”. Yeah, typical childhood dreams of glory. My father taking me to IMS for qualification weekends didn’t deter those dreams much.

My family’s first Atari 2600 entered our living room in 1981, and things changed again. In between my share of “Indy 500” and “River Raid“, I became fascinated with computers. I knew I wanted my career to revolve around computers, even before I entered high school. Perhaps nerdish, but I really enjoyed math, the sciences, and computers in general. Plus, I knew there was big bucks in them too.

Fast forward to 1997 … I had already completed my undergraduate Computer Science degree, and was about to complete my Masters in Computer Science, when a boyhood dream company came calling for me and my skills – Caterpillar. Here I was, involved with computers and being asked to work for one of the biggest heavy machinery companies in the world. I began living my boyhood dream – bulldozers & computers. Wow!

Unfortunately, dreams have a way of fading. In 2009, I left Cat to pursue a newer direction of computers, that which involves the most important, but the least thought of, part of software, web site, and mobile design – the user herself. Talk about stepping off into a black abyss, during one of the roughest economic stretches the U.S. had seen in decades. Being unemployed and a graduate student (again) equates to many sleepless nights, hopeful for the future.

My final graduate project allowed a melding of two passions in life, computers and racing. My project was accepted by the school, so I now have a 2nd Masters degree, this time in Human-Computer Interaction. To complete my epic educational journey (with an unknown employment future), I submitted 6 copies of my final report to select INDYCAR personnel in May 2011. I requested no compensation – my compensation was already received with my degree. I didn’t really expect any response.

Then – it happened.

I can recall the event & location: a rain-soaked May Indy Tweetup morning gathering in the IMS Legacy suites. One of the INDYCAR directors saw my name tag and stopped me. He thanked me personally for the project, thought it was well done & informative, and they hoped to make use of it. He then mentioned an opportunity … a new position being created within INDYCAR … Webmaster.

Naturally, the 8-year-old in me screamed like a little girl seeing New Kids On The Block for the first time (old school). I mentioned I’d take a look at the description. Read the description thoroughly, at least 100 times. Yep – I wanted it. And the fortunate powers that be forwarded my resume directly onto the hiring manager’s desk, and other fortunate powers added their individual 2-cents in favor of me. There would be no way to thank everyone enough.

Fast forward to the start of 2012. I had been informed by INDYCAR personnel the position was put on hold pending 2012 strategies. Little did we know at the time those strategies included an altogether web site redesign and complete reorganization of their digital strategy. But, they thanked me for my persistence in the position, and that I should stay tuned because the position may be unfrozen soon.

Then, it happened … again.

(paraphrasing) “David … We’d like to schedule a meeting with you regarding our INDYCAR Webmaster position …”

(*light headed*) (*room spinning*) (*internal 8-yr-old screaming – again*)

“It would be my pleasure …”

(*thud*)

Fast forward to current … it’s Sunday morning, February 26, 2012. I’ve had two sets of meetings with INDYCAR. I’m not sure you’d call them “interviews”, per sé. Yes, they were interviews, but never had the uneasy feelings of “unknown question/answer” sessions like typical interviews. As a computer professional, I felt confident in my skills/experiences, and what I would provide, technically and strategically, to INDYCAR. As a fan of motorsports, I rode Cloud 9 to the outer reaches of the universe those two days. The veil of INDYCAR was briefly lifted for 2+ hours, a groom preparing to see a beautiful bride … and it was wonderful. And that was just the interview part.

I attended last night’s Winter Indy Tweetup, an annual gathering of INDYCAR Tweeters for fun, frivolity, and just good conversations. It felt right again. The building excitement leading up to the 2012 season was measurable, visceral, palpable. Throughout the day, I kept thinking … these are racing fans. These are fans that can and will help build INDYCAR’s fan base. These are fans, drivers, teams, sponsors, promoters … whom I want to share my professional skills and knowledge with, not just my INDYCAR fanaticism.

These are the people whom I want to be a webmaster for. Their webmaster. Their portal inside INDYCAR, using INDYCAR’s biggest portal to them (outside of the events themselves) – electronic media.

Do I want to be their face, their voice? ABSOLUTELY … so long as they show latitude for me as well. I am a fan, just like them, but with this position comes unbelievable responsibility. Being offered the INDYCAR webmaster position would be similar to winning an election … complete elation to being given the launch codes to a nuclear reactor-style position, but then realizing the enormity of the position. You know – one of those “Oh, God – what have I done? What have I done?” moments. But I remain resolute. I yearn to hear their words, positive and negative alike, regarding the new digital strategies within the new website, or within the mobile app, or anything electronically-associated with INDYCAR.

I can do this. I will do this. I would not waiver. I would not quit. I would be strong. I would be smart. I would be – INDYCAR.

“… our only goal every single day with IndyCar is to better it and make it stronger.”

I sit here typing this blog entry, hoping. Not so much regarding the “employment” aspect, but more on the future of this adventure. I keep recalling Mr. Bernard’s State of INDYCAR closing remarks, resonating like a gong. Every day, I see myself reading those words, inspiring an early start to the day, whether it may be at a cubicle/desk, or on that 3:45am red-eye flight to wherever asked or needed.

I recognize there are others whom have interviewed for this position as well. I do not know whom they are, nor backgrounds and education combinations. If I am selected, I know I have been chosen from a field of outstanding candidates, each themselves ready to push INDYCAR to new heights. If I am not selected … (not thinking about it, but) … I want to believe in my heart & soul, I made INDYCAR’s decision very difficult. I gave INDYCAR a new, passionate perspective with being Webmaster, and there’s little doubt I would have been a great addition, making use of experiences with a multi-billion dollar company, dual Masters degrees, and an innate passion for INDYCAR. Bitterness – there will be none. Even without the Webmaster position, I must continue to make INDYCAR better. My passion will still be true to this great sport – unwavering, unyielding, resolute.

It’s time for everyone to put its faith back in IndyCar … I’m confident that the strong staff at IndyCar, along with the drivers, the teams, the sponsors, the promoters and all the fans can bring IndyCar to a new height.  So let’s sit back, buckle up and hold on tight because 2012 promises to be one helluva ride.

- Randy Bernard, INDYCAR CEO
(State of INDYCAR address, February 13, 2012)

Mr. Bernard – Randy – thank you for allowing me the opportunity to talk with your INDYCAR team regarding the Webmaster opening. You have an outstanding staff. Be proud of them, their efforts, and their passion for their jobs to improve this wonderful sport. They are unbelievably excited about 2012. After speaking with each one them, I cannot be more excited about 2012 as well. It has already been a helluva ride these past two weeks, and I look forward to helping INDYCAR as your Webmaster.

I’m ready – passport’s ready – command’s been given – engine’s at full-song and ready – all I need is the green flag waved my direction.

PostScript (28-FEB-2012): David was informed this week he was not selected for the INDYCAR Webmaster position, but the decision was very, very difficult. It was mentioned he was the clear second choice by the organization.

No tears. No bitterness. No anger or bad words regarding the decision. None of it. — AND AS GOD AS MY WITNESS, I WANT (BEG) NONE OF IT FROM ANY OF YOU, EITHER! It would be unwelcomed & undeserved to INDYCAR, and hey – it’d make me look like a whiner, too. Bad, bad, bad. So don’t go tweeting, emailing, Facebooking, etc. to IndyCar about your disappointment for me. I’m uber-proud of what I did and, more importantly, who I was during the interview process. I really am. I didn’t sugarcoat or exaggerate anything. I was true to myself, my heart, and my soul, and I have confidence they saw that, too.

There is little doubt – no, make that ZERO doubt – in my mind … over the last 2 weeks, I personally made INDYCAR better. The series, the sport … all of it. Out of who-knows-how many applications & resumes they had to have received, I helped INDYCAR find one single, more-qualified candidate than myself to fill a behind-the-scenes job as Webmaster. Can you, the readers of this blog, look into the mirror and truthfully say the same?

My absolute congratulations to the new INDYCAR Webmaster, whomever you are. I hope one day to meet you and “talk shop”. I wish you all the best of luck in 2012. I know you are going to have a MEGATON of things on your plate in a short amount of time. Keep vigilant, keep going, keep pushing INDYCAR forward.

I, for one, will have your back.

As for my immediate future … well, um … anyone need a web & user experience design guy? Have dog, will travel (haha). Just so long as I can get to a few INDYCAR races this year – for blog purposes, of course – we’ll all be good. Wonder if INDYCAR needs an intern to help them out in May? Wonder if INDYCAR would be kind enough to grant media credentials to me?

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3 comments

  1. Good luck with the job search. I’m sorry that the Indycar position didn’t work out. If you are still job searching and interested in locating in Indianapolis, you might consider checking out Exacttarget; they are an Andretti Autosport sponsor and have experienced tremendous growth over the last 6 or so years. They are headquartered in downtown Indianapolis and have several technical/computer related postions currently open. I know several people that work form them and I know it is a good company to work for. They have positions here:

    http://www.exacttarget.com/company/careers.aspx

    Anyhow, as a fellow Indycar fan, I just wanted to pass along a possible job search idea that would get you into the Circle City if it works out. Good luck! I enjoy your blog and your passion for Indycar.


  2. As Lee Corso says: “Not so fast my friends!”


  3. [...] in February, I wrote a blog entry called “Making INDYCAR better … personally“. In a nutshell, I was invited to interview for a new “webmaster” position within [...]



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