Two executives with extensive automotive and racing industry roots will lead sales and marketing efforts at Hulman Motorsports, Hulman & Company CEO Mark Miles announced.
The appointments complete a reorganization begun earlier this year that includes combining the commercial functions of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including sales, licensing, marketing and communications, into Hulman Motorsports.
Connell J. (C.J.) O’Donnell, who has worked in key marketing positions for various brands within Ford Motor Company, will join Hulman Motorsports as chief marketing officer. Jay Frye, a racing executive who successfully transformed two teams into NASCAR Sprint Cup contenders, will be the chief revenue officer.
“We’ve set a new strategic direction for our motorsports entities, and Jay and C.J. are both top performers who will help us take big leaps forward,” Miles said. “Among their immediate goals are to add sponsors for INDYCAR and IMS, improve our level of fan engagement and develop strategies to build alignment among our teams, drivers, venues and sponsors."
Click it: Listen to teleconference with guests Mark Miles, Jay Frye and C.J. O'Donnell
In May, Derrick Walker was named president of INDYCAR operations and competition. Other members of the leadership team include Jeff Belskus, president and chief financial officer of Hulman & Company; Gretchen Snelling, vice president and chief legal counsel; Robby Greene, president of IMS Productions; and Doug Boles, president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation.
"Every one of those people takes care of and has accountability for their particular functions, but together they form a management team that will strengthen the company as a whole, and I couldn't be more pleased to welcome CJ and Jay for those reasons to the organization," Miles said.
"I think these guys have the personal character. They have the general leadership and business background, and they have the specific functions that they've honed in their life's experiences so far that make them perfect for what we're trying to do here.
"Our team is in place, and there’s no offseason as we prepare for 2014."
O’Donnell recently served as Ford’s group marketing manager for electric vehicles in Detroit, where he was recognized for the launch of several hybrid vehicles and has orchestrated a record year for hybrid and electric vehicle sales. During his 20-year career with Ford, he also has led marketing for the Lincoln and Jaguar brands domestically and abroad and was a member of a small team that led the turnaround of the Mazda brand.
“I see great opportunity for this business, and it's really at the cusp of taking off in the years ahead with some great competition and other attributes of the business," O'Donnell said. "In simple terms, we're here to get a clear communication message for the business, leverage the combined opportunities that come with our partners, our stakeholders, and ensuring that we're working together for the success of the business, and I mean specifically team owners and the venues that are certainly working now to promote their aspect of this great industry.
"At one point in time in my life I had an aspiration of actually driving at Indianapolis, and I knew someday somewhere I'd get a chance to participate in the business. I guess there's a point in your life where you realize you're not going to be a left fielder for the Yankees and you put some of those dreams aside, but this is my chance to take my professional skills now and apply them to the growth of INDYCAR in a way that maybe I wouldn't have foreseen when I was 18 but I sure understand right now."
Frye led the transformation of the Red Bull Racing Team in NASCAR Sprint Cup into a contender that earned a berth in the 2009 Chase for the Championship during his tenure as vice president and general manager from 2008-11. In addition, he spent 12 years at MB2 Motorsports, a NASCAR Sprint Cup team he helped build from the ground up into a multi-team operation.
As the chief executive officer and general manager, he negotiated what was an industry-first – a sponsorship/ownership package with The Valvoline Company. Frye also has other sales and marketing experience, including several years with Anheuser-Busch.
“The passion of the INDYCAR fans and IMS fans is second to none," said Frye, a native of Rock Island, Ill. "I've been incredibly impressed when I've visited Indy, the people that when they found out that I was in visiting the facilities that were immediately awestruck by everything that happens around the 100‑year history of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and of INDYCAR.
"INDYCAR’s value proposition for sponsors is second to none as it provides fans with a great racing product, and with IMS we have incredible history and tradition. We've already started working on a few prospects, I would say, lots of different things, and there's a lot of encouragement and a lot of enthusiasm for the series and the sport, so I really think there's some good things to come."