BROOKLYN, Mich. (Dec. 14, 2000) International Speedway Corporation promoted from within Thursday when it named W. Brett Shelton president of Michigan International Speedway. Shelton, 35, will continue to serve as vice president and general manager of ISC's Talladega Superspeedway in his native Alabama until early January 2001. Shelton replaces Gene Haskett, who announced earlier this week he would leave MIS on Jan. 5 after 14 years at the helm of the facility. He will remain as a consultant to MIS.
"I would be hesitant to say there's a lot to change," Shelton said of his immediate plans for the facility. "The main thing I want to do is keep the momentum that Gene has created with his staff and keep it moving -- this is a tremendous facility with a sterling staff. The biggest thing I see is just doing some fine-tuning. The facility and staff is one of the reasons I was so attracted to this job offer."
"I am excited about following Gene -- he has set a high standard not only in his operation of the facility but in his community activities," Shelton said. "I am looking forward to continuing to grow the facility and working with ISC to take it to another level. That will take time but the facility is already at a high level and around the country it has a reputation of being one of the finest facilities in all aspects. I am part of a tremendous team and am looking forward to embracing this new challenge."
Shelton joined the staff at Talladega in August 1997 as director of operations, was promoted to vice president in July 1999 and earned general manager status earlier this year. During Shelton's tenure at Talladega he has handled the day-to-day operations at the 2.66-mile track. He has been directly involved in the track's growth in seating capacity, camping facilities, as well as the track's involvement in the surrounding communities.
Thursday he said he expected to continue that community involvement in Michigan.
Shelton has been a major contributor in both the Talladega area and the Birmingham metropolitan area since joining the Talladega Superspeedway staff. He is a Birmingham Chamber of Commerce trustee, a board member of the Alabama First Tee Golf Program and a founding advisory board member of the Rev-It-Up Foundation -- a foundation promoting education and racing nationwide.
Shelton is also a board member for TEAM, a Christian-based organization promoting values and teamwork among young people and a board member on the Alabama Sports Foundation.
Haskett, who began at Michigan as an employee of Roger Penske and continued as president after the Penske speedways were absorbed into ISC several years ago, said he would announce his next move in the motorsports realm in "early to mid-January."
"This was a very difficult decision -- we had a tremendous 14-year run here," Haskett said of his decision to make a career change. "But it was one of those decisions that if I hadn't done it in a year or two I might be asking myself why I didn't."
Haskett said his greatest satisfaction, aside from marshaling the growth of the facility from the 30,000 seats it had when he arrived to the 136,000 he turns over to Shelton, was "hiring, directly or indirectly, 53 of the 57 people on staff here and watching them grow and develop in their careers. To say I have three protegees who are presidents of race tracks makes me proud."
"From a selfish standpoint, I really hate to see Brett leave Talladega Superspeedway," said Talladega Superspeedway president Grant Lynch. "He has been a tremendous asset to Talladega and will continue to be an asset to International Speedway Corporation and Michigan International Speedway.
"Michigan is getting a great person, both professionally and personally. Brett is a great leader and has done a good job helping grow Talladega the last three years. We are going to miss him, but we wish him and his family nothing but the best."
Lynch said more than likely a replacement for Shelton would come from within the ISC organization, citing Talladega's public relations director Rick Humphrey and director of marketing Troi Hayes as two possibilities along with personnel at other ISC facilities.
"It's quite gratifying to me that Michigan will have someone of the depth and the quality of Brett Shelton to take my spot," Haskett said. "As much as it was a difficult decision to leave, it's gratifying to know it's in great hands with Brett. I'm looking forward to coming back in June, July and August and seeing the continued quality of care to our fans and competitors -- I expect great things from Michigan International Speedway. -nascar.com-