|Steve Page - President & General Manager, Sonoma Raceway|
|Profile of the week|
Monday, 21 July 2014 11:22
Sonoma Raceway is 2.52-mile road race course situated in Sonoma, California in the United States.
It host races a number of motorsport series including the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Verizon IndyCar Series, NHRA and AMA Superbike Championship.
Steve Page joined Sonoma Raceway as president and General Manager in 1991 after 11 years working in marketing and special events for baseball’s Oakland Athletics where, among other responsibilities, he served as coordinator for the 1987 MLB All-Star Game. Before entering the sports arena, he spent several years on Capitol Hill as press secretary for U.S. Congressman Leon Panetta. He is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley.
Page was the principal advocate for Sonoma Raceway’s $100 million modernization project, which has transformed the facility into one of the premier motor racing venues in the country.
By Ismail Uddin
You have been President and General Manager of Sonoma Raceway since 1991. What initially attracted you to the role?
I had worked in baseball and politics for the early part of my career and I had very little knowledge of motor racing. I was very much in love with the Sonoma area, it's one of the great places to live in the world and when the opportunity was presented to me I saw tremendous potential in the facility itself and opportunity to move my family to Sonoma valley was a temptation I could not resist.
Since you have been at Sonoma what improvements have you seen on and off the racetrack?
We were very fortunate in 1996 that the track was acquired by Speedway Motorsports Inc, which is a company based in North Carolina, that has really taken the lead in transforming motor racing facilities from fairly rough and tumble kind of environments from the early days of the sport to creating venues that really represent the sport in the same light as other major professional sports facilities.
We had essentially a complete reinvention of this facility in the year 2000 and the corporation has invested over $100 million to take what was at its heart a very exciting racing circuit but with very underdeveloped infrastructure and very sub standard amenities for fans , racers and sponsors and really turned it into a showcase with comfortable seating, spectacular sight lines, first rate corporate facilities and support faculties for competitors and race teams that are second to none. It has allowed us to really build not only our fan base but also our corporate profile and roster of partnerships and this has taken us to the level we are now.
In terms of sponsors, you have partnerships with Toyota, Save Mart and etc with the Raceway. How important are sponsors to your revenue plan?
We have a whole end of this office building focused on this on a daily basis and building corporate partnerships, expanding existing relationships and introducing new partners to the Raceway and frankly we couldn't do what we do without the support of good promotional corporate relationships. For ten tears we had a naming rights relationship with Infineon Technologies that helped to underwrite the large share of improvements that we made to the facility. We have long-term sponsorships with companies like Toyota and Save Mart supermarkets, who are title sponsors of a NASCAR race and have been on board for the last 23 years, and so we have a huge roster of partners.
Are there plans to obtain a new title sponsor?
We have spoken to a number of candidates over the last couple of years since the Infineon partnership wound down and I would say we went through a full rebranding, taking on the Sonoma brand as one we think is very evocative of the spectacular setting that we have and is one of our primary assets. I think at this point Sonoma Raceway is a brand we are very happy with. If the occasion arose and the strategic fit was right for a new naming rights partnership we would certainly look at it but it is no longer something that is on the front burner for us as a major sales initiative.