You've worked for Wally Parks at NHRA, O. Bruton Smith at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and now Curtis Francois at Gateway Motorsports Park. What have you learned from each?

CB: When it comes to the history of motorsports, being able to say you worked for Wally Parks is pretty special. He was a great man and I'm honored that I got to know him and the time I spent with him. Wally was about people and he made sure the sport was always bigger than him. He wasn't about putting his name on everything. The one thing that stands out the most for me when I think back about Wally was in 1998 when I gave him a ride from his hotel to the track in Joliet. I'm a nervous wreck about having to give him a ride; I was scared to death that (Wally's wife) Barbara, who was in the back seat, would hate my driving, and was worried about how I would keep him entertained for the 30 or 40 minutes. As soon as he got in the car, he started asking me questions about my track operators in the Northwest Division. He asked me how Bill New and his boys were doing. He wanted to know how Ron Farmer and the club that runs Mission were doing with the noise issues and neighbors. He was even asking me about car counts from the divisional races we had run so far that year. He cared about the sport from top to bottom -- it was amazing. It was an honor for me to be able to drive through the gates at Joliet with Wally Parks. He was amazed to see how beautiful that track was and I know it was a special day for him as well. (By the way, Barbara didn't complain about my driving).

Anyone else aside from Wally who impressed you –or- made a dramatic impression on you?

CB: There is one name you missed in the rundown of people I've worked for in my career. Without a doubt, hands down, the greatest promoter in motorsports today is one person that very few fans know his name. For two years I got to work for Charlie Mancuso when his organization was known as SRO and PACE Motorsports. It's had several names throughout the years due to buyouts: SFX, Live Nation, Clear Channel and now Feld. The one thing that doesn't change is that Charlie is still the guy shaping their product. Charlie put me in the role of new business development at a time when Supercross was growing rapidly and Monster Jam was consolidating promoters. We promoted air shows, got involved with arenacross, developed truck festivals, and I was assembling extreme sports elements for future development. Charlie would give me a hug or a pat on the back when I was doing my best and wasn't afraid to kick my ass when I wasn't. There were days I would drive home cursing him and the next day we would go to a baseball game together. He was an incredible teacher, a great role model and an innovator. Charlie never worried about having his name in a press release or getting credit for what he accomplished, he just got the job done. We need more guys like that in this industry.  

Was Mr. Mancuso involved in the purchase of the IHRA by Live Nation?

CB: Yes, he was involved and it was at a time when Live Nation, or whatever it was called that week, was expanding rapidly. The whole process of Clear Channel/SFX/Live Nation Motorsports buying IHRA was just bad timing for all involved; there were so many balls in the air at the time with all of the other properties that it seemed like the timing wasn't right. I'm hoping that before he retires, Charlie will build a product that works on dragstrips and short tracks. I would love to see him spend a few months at a track and build a product from the ground up. People like to say they think outside of the box but Charlie is one of those guys who blows the box up and builds a whole new box. He's already made a tremendous impact on NHRA drag racing as Ned Walliser (now with Maingate) and Glen Cromwell (NHRA) were part of Charlie's management team in the mid-'90s. I learned more from working with him in two years than I learned in college or at all of the other places combined. It was a tough choice between continuing at PACE Motorsports or taking on the NHRA Division Director job.