SAMAX/Doncaster Racing - Mid-Ohio spotlight

SETTING THE STANDARD: SAMAX / DONCASTER RACING DUBLIN, Ohio (June 6, 2006) - What would happen if corporate strategies were aligned to mirror those of a race team? John Lacey believes the shareholders would reap significant...


DUBLIN, Ohio (June 6, 2006) - What would happen if corporate strategies were aligned to mirror those of a race team? John Lacey believes the shareholders would reap significant profits:

"If we could only run our businesses the same way you run a race team and have the same level of communication, the same degree of dedication, the same passion and, more importantly, the same degree of execution -- and have it measured the same way, in terms of seconds -- each business would prosper."

It's an interesting concept; one Lacey has tested through decades of experience at the highest levels of sport and commerce. Many talk of synergy between business and racing; Lacey and his partners prove it.

Lacey owns Doncaster Racing Inc., a Canadian company with an international focus. Doncaster contracts Florida-based SAMAX Motorsport to prepare and field the No. 17 SAMAX/ Doncaster Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car driven by Dave Lacey and Greg Wilkins in Rolex Sports Car Series competition.

It's a good match. The four key players share similar business experience, goals and performance standards.

John Lacey has managed race teams from Mini Coopers to Formula One. He is a respected business manager who restructures faltering companies, using the techniques he honed in racing.

SAMAX Motorsport owner Peter Baron excelled in motorsports, tennis and golf before turning to business. His expertise includes high-technology financial analysis and management.

Dave Lacey is a second-generation racer and president of KidsFutures, a consumer-rewards program that enables Canadian families to save money for their children's post-secondary education.

Greg Wilkins is a former class winner in the prestigious 24 Heures du Mans race and the chief executive officer of Barrick Gold Corporation, the biggest gold-mining company in the world.

The four have joined forces in a successful team that meets the highest standards of professionalism. In fact, they scored a podium finish in their first race together -- the demanding Rolex 24 At Daytona, in 2005 -- continuing Doncaster's winning tradition that has produced race victories, podiums and two championships. The team's next venture is the upcoming EMCO Gears Classic presented by KeyBank at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

Business Bonus

The SAMAX/Doncaster group has an unusual perspective on team sponsorship. Although they carry sponsor logos on the race car, they believe the real value for corporate partners is beyond the track. They present performance seminars and invite executives to work with them during race weekends, demonstrating ways to improve corporate performance in areas such as safety, communication, planning, preparation, strategy, execution and cost management.

"We, like our sponsors, don't see significant value in terms of a logo flying by at 100 miles an hour and reaching a fairly narrow audience. The value for our sponsors comes from at-track activities and using the vehicle and the program as corporate assets," Dave Lacey noted. "Getting a management team out to the track and involved in a team-building session that revolves around strategy or quick decision-making and technology has real value for our partners."

Performance Culture

Wilkins lives with the daily stress of managing an international corporation that operates in 10 countries on four continents, but he believes racing is tougher.

"They're very similar -- operating under deadlines, it's competitive, you need to perform, and you need to deliver results. A racing team operates under more intense pressure because time frames are short and decisions have to be made in split seconds," he said.

"It's well-established that companies will either grow or go backwards, but they don't stay the same. If you want to succeed, if you want to be the leader in your industry, you need a performance-oriented culture, because business is all about how the people within the business operate. Assets, tools, equipment, reserves and resources are completely inanimate without the people who are using them.

"If you don't have a performance-oriented culture, with people understanding those goals and working really hard to achieve them, the business will reflect that. If you look at racing, I don't think there's anything more performance-oriented, so it gets into your thinking, your culture, what you're doing and your expectations."

Baron has set high performance objectives for SAMAX.

"We want to be the team that sets the standard that everybody compares themselves to -- a professional, business-savvy team operating in a healthy internal environment. We want everything to be and look professional, from the car and transporter to the pit lane setup and pit tools to the crew dressed properly," he said. "It doesn't mean spending lots of money; it means spending effectively."

Measuring Results

John Lacey learned early to adapt to the constantly evolving challenges of racing, where detailed preparation and plans are rendered irrelevant as weather changes, track conditions deteriorate or mechanical components fail -- all in a location far from home base. He has used that experience to boost many corporations.

"Being involved in motor-racing allows you to cut through the clutter and concentrate on the big issue. You can't be distracted in racing, you've got to concentrate," he said.

"On a business basis, people don't like measurement, but it ends up in consumer satisfaction or increased sales or whatever your barometer is. In racing, if you're good at the beginning of your weekend, you're at the front of the pack. If you race well, you end up close to the checkered flag. It's visual, it's on television, it's fully measured and everybody knows who performed well and who didn't perform well.

"If you could implant that model into a business on an everyday basis, it would have to make the business perform better, make it more accountable and people more comfortable with measurement and executing whatever the strategy is of the day."

Baron takes measurement a step beyond track results. As a team owner, he is committed to high quality in all aspects of the business, from preparation and planning to the podium.

"At the end of the season, my goal is for the customer to say there is nothing they would have done differently -- everything was properly planned and put together, they felt like they had all the equipment they needed to win and our decisions were the right ones," he said. "We want to know we're ahead of the curve."

Play Time

So is racing all work and no play? Hardly. It's demanding, but immensely rewarding for the Lacey's and Wilkins, a welcome change from corporate stress. It's also time for family and friends, many of whom contribute their professional skills to the team. The group is already working on plans for the next generation -- a car to run in the top Daytona Prototype class, with Greg Wilkins' son Mark at the wheel.

"It's great to have family involved. It really is a family affair and a lifestyle. If you're going to spend every other weekend away for four days, you want to do it with a team you like and people you like. It would be tough to be away from the family for the 60 days we have scheduled this year," Dave Lacey acknowledged.

"Some people go to cottages, some people go boating and we go to the race track. Everybody has a role and everybody is contributing. I think the more you're involved, the more rewarding it is when you do well."

Wilkins agreed: "We talk a lot about the performance and competition, and we want to do well, that's in our nature. But we're also here to have some fun."


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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Peter Baron , Dave Lacey , Greg Wilkins