Corporate culture means a lot more than it used to, especially in this new age of technology here in Silicon Valley. Successful tech companies often are celebrated for their uniquely designed, state-of-the-art work spaces, stock options for employees, etc., but the culture of a workplace has to resonate emotionally with employees and customers to make a successful company. Therein lies the very reason NASA has grown so successfully in such a short time. It resonates with members.
Despite many of the greatest companies currently in the industry starting in a garage, such as Hewlett Packard, Google, Apple and Facebook, just to name a few, they have evolved into organizations that represent truly unique, revolutionary company cultures, and NASA is no different.
Most CEOs or business owners will agree that being an entrepreneur is great. There are endless reasons for this, and every entrepreneur has his or her own personal reasons as well. You call the shots and make the decisions that ultimately determine your success or failure. Nobody will get in the way of your vision.
Vision is exactly what Jerry Kunzman had when I first met him years ago. Jerry’s vision was simple: Get some racers together, race cars and have a hell of a lot of fun. What Jerry realized early on was, NASA was more like a family holiday than anything else. There was racing, food and a little something to quench one’s thirst.
What began as a bunch of RX-7s that sounded like a nest of mad yellow jackets eventually led to many classes of cars, some fast, some slow, but all competitive nonetheless, and the piece de résistance was the introduction of NASA Prototype. The NP01 was not just an amazing car, but rather a culmination of dreams. This was a car every member of NASA felt they were part of. Every time we see one on the track, we feel it’s a part of what we are all about. There was a time we all dreamt how we would like to race cars, “Boy, would I like to do that,” but now we can add to that dream each time we see an NP01 and think, “Yes, can I ever see me behind that wheel!”
Entrepreneurs are innovators. Think of all the new technology and ideas that have come to life over the past few years in the aforementioned startup companies. Those were all once just an idea — but amazing entrepreneurs brought those ideas to life. Carroll Shelby once told me he owed his success to surrounding himself with other great minds. NASA’s success is the result of this same reasoning. NASA is a gathering of many great entrepreneurial minds, all of whom think outside the box. This has created many new classes and well-managed events, all of which just get better over time.
Speaking of getting better over time, how much more excited could any NASA racing enthusiast get after learning about NASA’s recent announcement regarding the NASA Championships? The 2018 NASA Championships presented by Toyo Tires is scheduled to take place at the world-famous Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on September 13-16, 2018. What’s more, the Toyo Tires Classic will offer the richest purse in Spec Miata competition, the largest payout in the history of amateur road racing!
It all happens just one month before The United States Formula 1 Grand Prix. Top NASA competitors will face off at one of the most challenging racetracks in the country. I can’t help but think this is akin to being the opening act for The Rolling Stones. I don’t know how big this thing will get, but I’m going to enjoy the ride.