As he tells it, things came full circle for Chip Wile when Roger Penske walked into Gatorade Victory Lane following Brad Keselowski’s victory in the 2016 Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola.
While Keselowski gave the famed motorsports icon his 100th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory, it also gave Wile the opportunity to share the landmark win with his former boss -- a man that he still calls Mr. Penske.
“It was surreal. I went to congratulate him and he gave me a big hug and told me that he was really proud of me. For Mr. Penske to say that is so humbling. He's the guy. He’s ’The Captain’ – an icon in business and in motorsports.”
What Penske was proud of was Wile’s newest appointment.
On April 25, 2016, Wile became just the eighth person to be named President of Daytona International Speedway.
For the 36-year-old Atlanta, Ga. native, it was an opportunity he’d prepared for his entire life.
“I feel like I've trained for this job my whole career,” he explained. “You start out as a young guy and you want to make your mark, but you've got to be very patient and pay your dues.”
Over the course of his career in motorsports, Wile has worked for racetracks, race teams and a major media operation, gaining experience in business development, marketing and public relations, while making deep industry-wide connections.
“This is the only industry I've ever worked in,” he said. “I've been lucky enough to have seen things from a number of angles. I've seen it from the outside, from the team side, from the media side and certainly now from the track side. It certainly makes you appreciate everything it takes to put all of these events on and operate these great facilities.”
Chip has accumulated more than 15 years of experience in the motorsports industry working in team public relations and partnership marketing for various NASCAR race teams, most notably Team Penske, Bill Davis Racing and Turner Scott Motorsports.
Due to upwards of 300 days a year on the road, Wile began to look for opportunities outside of motorsports as his travel schedule wasn’t quite ideal for the family that he and his wife were preparing to start.
“It was a tough decision, but it was something that I felt I needed to do for my family,” he explained.
However, fate intervened in the form of Motor Racing Network’s President David Hyatt.
“He coaxed me into staying in the industry, just doing it down a different path.”
The move worked out as Wile experienced a new perspective by working in a different area of the sport, implementing new business opportunities and directing MRN’s overall marketing and promotional efforts.
And just a year later, Wile was hired as the President of Darlington Raceway.
“Those were the best three years of my life,” he said of his time at Darlington. “I'm just really proud of the folks there. They’re the greatest people in the world and I can't say enough great things about what's going on there.”
Despite some treasured years at Darlington, he’s excited for his new challenge at DAYTONA.
“To have the opportunity to come to the ‘World Center of Racing’ and lead this team is a dream come true,” said Wile. “There’s a lot of responsibility and expectation that goes along with it, but I am very humbled to be a part of the future of this American icon.”
With so many years in the motorsports industry, Wile is no stranger to Daytona International Speedway.
“I actually started working in the display area in the Midway here at DAYTONA and have been coming to DAYTONA for over 15 years,” he recalled. “As a competitor, I've had the opportunity to stand in Gatorade Victory Lane. Every time you fly into Daytona Beach, you see DIS and you think about what it means to our sport and what it means to the motorsports community.”
Over that time, he’s become acquainted with the man who held the position before him, Joie Chitwood III – now Chief Operating Officer of International Speedway Corporation – whom Wile sees as a tremendous resource.
“What really excited me about Joie is that he's always been somebody that I've noticed and circled as somebody I need to get close to because he’s the best in the business. To be able to have daily interactions with a guy who has seen everything from so many different angles will be invaluable.”
Mentors like Chitwood have been a defining characteristic of Chip’s career.
“The thing that has been very rewarding and humbling for me is that during my career I've had incredible people that have taken a vested interest in seeing me succeed,” he said. “It’s not about what I've done that’s gotten me here. Anything I’ve accomplished is a credit to all of the folks that have helped me along the way.”
The lasting influence of mentors such as Roger Penske, Bill and Gail Davis, Steve Turner, David Hyatt and Clay Campbell, among others, can be seen in the strong relationships and the team-oriented philosophy DAYTONA’s new president values.
“You're only as good as your team,” Wile shared. “I am all about the team. I want to know everything about everybody on our team. I want to make sure that I'm providing everybody with the opportunities and resources to be successful.”
For Chip, building strong and lasting relationships doesn’t end with the DIS team.
“The local community is critical to our success,” he explained. “It’s so important that we continue to play a role in building the Daytona Beach community and really immerse ourselves in it because they’re a big part of what we do.”
And what can the fans expect from him?
“I listen to the fans a lot,” Wile said. “During events, I’ll actually spend a lot of time in the stadium and the infield to hear and see what people are doing, so that we can enhance their experience. The reason we all work here is because of them, so we need to make sure we're providing them with a world-class experience.”
As for what lies ahead, he isn’t shy about potential new and exciting opportunities.
“I think the opportunities exist with additional content within the stadium that maybe aren't motorsports-related. With the Country 500 (music festival) we were able to introduce a lot of new people to DAYTONA. To be able to continue to build our schedule and bring unique content is really important.”
But at the end of the day, he fully understands that motorsports are what make Daytona International Speedway so exceptional.
“Every event that happens at DAYTONA – there's something special about it simply because it's at DAYTONA,” he said. “People respect and understand the importance of Bill France’s vision to build something truly unimaginable.”
Now the unimaginable has been reimagined and new president Chip Wile will have a front-row seat as Daytona International Speedway continues to move motorsports into a thrilling new era.
“I think our future is so bright. It’s just such an exciting time to be part of the team.”
Welcome to the team, Chip!
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