5 Questions with Senior Account Supervisor, Bill Janitz
What does your current job responsibilities include?
“I am the account supervisor for our clients, M&M’s/Mars and Interstate Batteries, who are the primary sponsors for the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. I’m responsible for managing their driver, Kyle Busch, at-track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit and during the week. I’ve been working with the 18 team since late 2007, and this is my eighth season working with Kyle handling his at-track media and sponsor responsibilities with M&M’s and Interstate Batteries.”
How did you get started in the racing industry?
“I grew up in Brooklyn, Michigan on a lake five miles away from Michigan International Speedway (MIS). My dad took to me races there from the time I was six years old, so I have a lot of great childhood memories going to NASCAR and IndyCar races at MIS with my dad. After graduating from Michigan State in 2000, I sent a resume for an internship at MIS and they actually called me about a job in the spring of 2001. I started off doing a dual role of media and community relations. Having grown up there, I was familiar with the community, so it was an easy transition. I was already a friendly face to many in the immediate area. From there, I worked my way up to the Media Relations Manager and then to Director of Public Relations in 2004. I moved to True Speed in the fall of 2006, and I’ve been here ever since.”
Who are some of the clients you have worked with?
“When I started at True Speed, I worked with client GlaxoSmithKline, who sponsored a limited schedule with the No. 18 car, and former JGR driver J.J. Yeley. Also, SunTrust was a client and I worked with them around their sponsorship of Wayne Taylor Racing in what is now called the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Even though SunTrust is no longer in racing, I’m proud that we still work with Wayne Taylor Racing as a client to this day. In 2007, I moved onto working full-time with Interstate Batteries with J.J. behind the wheel. In 2008, Kyle Busch moved over to Joe Gibbs Racing, which kept us busy with new clients. Not only did I work with M&M’s and Interstate Batteries starting in 2008, but we supported Kyle’s XFINITY Series racing endeavors with clients such as Z-Line Designs and Farm Bureau Insurance, among others. I also worked with former JGR driver Joey Logano and GameStop and helped with his XFINITY Series debut in May 2008. In 2008, I also supported clients Home Depot and Texas Instruments’ DLP brand. By late 2008 and the start of 2009, I was dedicated fulltime to M&M’s and Interstate Batteries on the 18 car. We also helped Kyle with PR efforts in launching his own team, Kyle Busch Motorsports during its inaugural season in 2010. Today, I still work closely with M&M’s and Interstate Batteries. Both companies have a lot of great people. Some have moved on but I have worked with many others the entire eight years. Not only are they clients, but both companies treat me like a part of the family, something that I feel fortunate for.”
What piece of advice would you offer to someone starting in the sport?
“I would say just take some initiative. It was always a dream of mine to work in auto racing and/or professional sports, and I’ve been able to do so for quite some time now. When I got into the sport, I spent a lot of time calling around to racing facilities and teams and worked my way up the ladder as I got to know people. In my years at MIS and then at True Speed, the people that have kept in contact with me and wanted to just come along and learn and ask questions are the ones that have also found careers in the sport. I can think of six people alone that either interned for me at MIS or spent some time with me there who still work in the sport to this day. Sometimes it doesn’t pay much to start, but just volunteering in a media center or following along with someone will help you get a foot in the door.”
What is one of the best things you have been able to do working in the sport?
“There’s been many. Obviously any sort of campaign that succeeds always makes you proud. We get to do some pretty neat things not only at the racetrack, but outside of it as well, whether it’s spending a day with the New England Patriots, or throwing out the first pitch at a Major League Baseball game. But, I think some of the most fun is when you see the drivers and teams accomplish great things and you and your clients get to be along for the ride. There have been many neat wins over the years, but being with Joey Logano for his first NASCAR victory in Kentucky in 2008 was memorable. It was fun to watch and be a part of Kyle winning at his hometown track in Las Vegas in 2009. Kyle taking the checkered flag in all three series in one weekend - Truck, XFINITY and Sprint Cup at Bristol in 2010 - something nobody else has done before or since, was really neat. For me, Kyle’s win at MIS in August 2011 was cool because I got to enjoy victory lane with Interstate Batteries at the track where I grew up. Also, just being able to meet a lot of great people I’ve been lucky enough to work with over the years in our sport, whether it’s clients, co-workers, media, team members or anyone else that you see in the NASCAR garage week in and week out.”