She drove across her home country without GPS. The road soon took her to Indianapolis, where she was ultimately hired by IMS. Now she’s leading the ALSD’s racing division. She’s Rebecca Simon, Director of Client Services at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Did you know the ALSD has a racing division? Yes, it’s true, our association is not only for stick-and-ball sports, but for all entertainment venues eager to address premium product mix and experiential diversity. We are all in the corporate hospitality business together.
The ALSD racing division includes motorsports of all flavors, from Phoenix Raceway to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as well as horse racing venues like the iconic Churchill Downs. Whether in the driver’s seat or the saddle, the sportspeople of these sporting arenas have similar challenges and opportunities: Gearing up and selling their hearts out for a few big events each year. Servicing clientele with unique backdrops. Exploring new ways to put the venue to use and drive revenue outside of race day. Reengineering space to meet the demands of changing demographics. ALSD educational and networking opportunities check off all these boxes.
In the spirit of this growing segment, we’re proud to announce the addition of a new ALSD Board of Advisors member who will help steer us in the right direction.
Meet Rebecca Simon, Director of Client Services, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
ALSD.com: How did you get into sports? And tell us about your career path to IMS.
Rebecca: In 1995, a fellow Canadian, Jacques Villeneuve, won the Indy 500 and later that year was a guest at the Thai restaurant I served at in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. I was 19 years old. He tipped me $27 (his car number), and I was hooked.
“I love bringing all my worlds together and seeing business relationships and friendships blossom… Friends from my banking, racing, and university lives have all connected over some intense topics, great conversation, and many bottles of wine.”
– Rebecca Simon, Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Fast forward 16 years, I moved to Indianapolis – the Racing Capital of the World – and worked in the city as a retail bank manager with several clients that made their careers in motorsports. After networking specifically for a job in racing, my time finally arrived when I was hired at the IndyCar Series. I traveled with the series, managing official partnership relationships, to domestic and international venues for six years.
In 2014, I transitioned to the competition side and worked for the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports IndyCar team. My dream came full circle when Jacques Villeneuve raced for our race team at the Indy 500, making his return to race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) for the first time since his Indy 500 win. It was meant to be!
In 2015, I was recruited by IMS to lead their client services team and ensure our premium service standards were in place to meet the high expectations of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500. Our venue hosted over 300,000 guests that May 29, 2016. I was proud to be a part of it.
I was not necessarily aware that my career path decisions were purposeful to bring me to this moment working at one of the most historic and iconic sports venues, but any friend or family member will say that they knew this is where I would end up. Oftentimes, those that love you the most know you better than you know yourself.
ALSD.com: What are some things ALSD members would never guess about you? What are your hidden talents?
Rebecca: I traveled my country Canada in a van, before GPS. I woke up every morning at my campsite and unfolded the map to decide what was the next destination. This is how I ended up going from Montreal at age 19 to living in Whistler and Vancouver for three years. Canada is so beautiful, and I feel blessed to have seen so much of it.
I did not go to traditional college or university. Once I was done with my travels and moved to Indianapolis, I went to Indiana Wesleyan University in the evenings while I had my full-time bank manager job. I accomplished my bachelor’s degree, earning summa cum laude honors. It was a mental challenge to excel in such an accelerated manner and could not have done it without my schoolmates who were also professional adults. I did not ever have the opportunity to belong to a sorority, but I did meet some of my best lifelong friends during this experience. And I learned I can survive anything if I put my mind to it.
I am a natural connector. I love bringing all my worlds together and seeing business relationships and friendships blossom. I have a book club that has been in existence for over ten years – a feat to be sure as book clubs go. Friends from my banking, racing, and university lives have all connected over some intense topics, great conversation, and many bottles of wine.
“We look to welcome new generations through technology and enhanced experiences while preserving the integrity of those traditions that keep our long-standing guests content.”
– Rebecca Simon, Indianapolis Motor Speedway
ALSD.com: What is the best or most memorable event at the track that you have hosted for clients?
Rebecca: Being a small part of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 was an honor. Every single person in our organization was invested in executing the best experience for all who attended that event. We pushed ourselves to be innovative and creative, as well as preserve the history and traditions of the event. Being on the grid on Memorial Day weekend with the 33 racecars as the National Anthem was being sung is an unforgettable memory for me.
ALSD.com: What are the three words that best describe you?
Rebecca: Connector, Loyal, and Transparent
ALSD.com: What does the Indianapolis Motor Speedway do best?
Rebecca: Preserving the history and traditions of the Indianapolis 500 while staying current with needs and expectations is a challenge that our organization is committed to meeting. We look to welcome new generations through technology and enhanced experiences while preserving the integrity of those traditions that keep our long-standing guests content.
ALSD.com: If you could share one piece of advice with young premium or corporate partnership directors, what would it be?
Rebecca: You can teach people skills, but you can’t teach personality. Build an internal team of both service and sales-oriented professionals that collaborate and engage with one another. Build a culture of #oneteam where everyone has each other’s backs. The organic service culture to each other will translate into exceptional service for the client.
ALSD.com: Who or what inspires you?
Rebecca: I love meeting new people. I believe everyone has a story. I am always the first to put my hand out to introduce myself, and I am often rewarded with a story or learn something new that I didn’t know when I woke up that morning. I am inspired by relationships – old and new. My love language is time, so whenever a friend or new acquaintance carves out time to spend with me, I am inspired to be the best version of myself for them.
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