5 Questions with Senior Account Supervisor, Bill Klingbeil
What does your current job responsibilities include?
“Since joining True Speed Communication prior to the 2008 season, I have handled public relations activities for Tony Stewart Racing’s World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series teams. I’ve been working with TSR driver Donny Schatz since 2001 and joined him at TSR following the 2007 season. It’s been more than pitching the Donny Schatz story to newspapers, television reporters, bloggers and radio shows during his rise from a WoO regular to seven-time champion. My role with Donny still includes doing a little bit of everything between the time he gets out of his Sprint car and gets back into it. In August 2012, I was assigned to cover the final eight NHRA races with U.S. Army driver Tony Schumacher and Antron Brown and I have spent the past four seasons continuing in that role splitting the races each season with TSC colleague Laz Denes. This year, I also serve as a sub in NASCAR working with SHR drivers Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick.”
How did you get started in the racing industry?
“My love and passion for racing started as youngster going to Saturday night races at Peoria (Illinois) Speedway. The dirt track experiences gave me the bug and in my mid-20’s I found myself in the right place at the right time. As a college graduate with a communication specialization, I wanted to find an outlet to chase my dream of being in sports media in some capacity. I went to a World of Outlaws race near St. Louis in July 1995 and recognized they were missing some opportunities. I taught myself how to use graphic design programs, capitalized on some photography skills and wasn’t afraid to walk up to a driver and ask him to do an interview. That led to me creating a newsletter called “Outlaw Trail” that I would print and deliver to the track about six times a year in 1996 and 1997. I would print it, deliver it and Johnny Gibson would put it inside World of Outlaws Programs at a handful of races. I also produced a multimedia documentary about the World of Outlaws and was pitching it to the executives of TNN (The Nashville Network), who had partnered with the Outlaws for marketing ventures. Doing those projects led to an opportunity to write a feature story for the 1997 Knoxville Nationals program. In return, I got a media credential and just happened to come across a press release announcing Amoco Corporation would be sponsoring Dave Blaney’s World of Outlaws team in 1998. Since my goal was to become a PR man with a World of Outlaws team, I felt like this was my best chance to get my foot in the door. After a lot of persistence, Amoco hired me and I’ve been involved since.
Who are some of the clients you have worked with?
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of corporations, drivers and teams. It started with Amoco and that led me to working J&J Auto Racing, Parker Hannifin, Blue Beacon Truck Washes, Snap-On Tools, Armor All, STP, Bass Pro Shops, Chevy, and Bad Boy. The drivers I’ve worked with include Dale Blaney, Kevin Gobrecht, Pro Stock racer Allen Johnson, Donny Schatz, Tony Schumacher and Antron Brown. I’ve taken something from each and everyone of them. Certainly a blessing to have had the chance to work with so many great people over the years.”
What piece of advice would you offer to someone starting in the sport?
“I would say never quit on a dream. Find your passion and always fight to make sure it’s still in front of you. Make connections and build relationships. Keep your eyes open because you never know for sure what opportunities are coming your way.
What is one of the best things you have been able to do working in the sport?
“There are so many great things that I’ve been able to experience that it’s really hard to make some bigger than the others. Whether it’s traveling to some incredible places, witnessing history or being part of some truly special teams, it all comes back to having the chance follow a dream where passion and hard work is rewarded.”