Still Thankful

I know it’s well past Thanksgiving, but I can still be thankful. My wonderful Nor Cal volunteer staff really makes life easy for me. On a national level, people at the top like our National Chairman, Ryan Flaherty, our Director of Business Development, Jeremy Croiset, our National Office Manager, Dave Ho, and our General Counsel, John Lindsey have truly made NASA great. The staff on Speed News, with art director Ashley Horne and editor Brett Becker in charge, is turning out a magazine with mind-blowing articles and video in it each and every month.

In the very early days of NASA, we wrote out a 20-year plan. In 20 years, we wanted to have a prototype series, among other things. Some of the other dreams were events like the Championships, Hyperfest, and a famous 24-hour race. Seems like all of the things on that wish list have come true, and I couldn’t be more thankful.

Often I get emails with a pitch to sanction and support the latest and greatest new-fangled racecar. With 99 percent of those ideas failing, I am always a little skeptical. So when the idea for the Élan NP01 came up, I ran it past Ryan Flaherty. All he said was, “I’ll handle it.” I had forgotten all about it, when about a year later, the press release came out. I was stunned. It turns out that with input from Ryan, Jeremy and our NASA Texas Regional Director, Will Faules, Élan, Mazda, Toyo, and NASA came up with a brilliant car. Not just any car, but a scratch-built prototype with radical new ideas, like keeping as many parts the same as possible, and keeping running and maintenance costs very low, as well as the initial investment for the car. I was so impressed with the concept that I ordered one myself.

Yes, the boss is back … on track, that is. Or at least I will be when I take delivery sometime around May 2016. Unless it’s in response to a bad crash, I seldom get on track anymore. I really haven’t lost the passion for driving and racing, but I admit laziness kept me from buying or building a racecar, taking it to the track, etc. But this new NASA NP01 is so exciting and hassle-free I can’t pass it up. So yes, I will be on track in 2016, and I look forward to scrapping it out with the rest of you.

Going back to my Nor Cal team, we really have made some nice improvements to the local program in the last couple of years. Mandatory use of in-car cameras has made it much easier for my race directors to sort out incidents in a fast, fair and consistent manner. The use of our new safety-dispatch wireless screens in race control and in the trucks has provided us valuable data regarding response times, locations, etc. This will enable us to make improvements to our safety response program.

In a similar fashion, our team has created an app called Trackflag. We quickly set up a track-wide wifi that stays in place, and the only thing you can open is the Trackflag application. This enables drivers to use smartphones, even those with no service, to see flag conditions around the track in real time. This advancement is extremely advantageous as a driver aid to reduce the risk of missed flags. My team continues to work on new innovations that could become a reality in your region should your Regional Director want to implement some of them.

I certainly have a lot to be thankful for, including being at your service as the Executive Director and CEO of one of the coolest companies on the planet.

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