Each year, Speed51 hosts the Short Track Draft, evaluating the top short track racing prospects in North America and determining who is the number-one pick each spring. More than 100 industry experts will submit their ballots in the coming days, sharing the young racers they would choose to build a race team around.
Several factors go into that determination, and one of the underrated factors is public speaking. Yes, a top pick in the Short Track Draft must be a talented race car driver first and foremost. However, the driver must also be able to conduct himself or herself in interviews in an engaging manner.
At the upper levels of NASCAR, racers do much more than strap into a cockpit on Sunday and race for 500 miles. They also represent their teams, as well as numerous sponsors, while also engaging fans on a national and international scale. Being unable to maintain those relationships can jeopardize a career just as easily as lack of results on the track.
Thus, it is a factor considered in the Short Track Draft as well. This is often a challenging aspect for up-and-coming racers, as they are often working just as hard to develop their personality as they do their on-track talents. There are no easy metrics to measure that progress, however, as interviews or social media engagements can come at both the best and worst of times.
A potential top pick in this year’s Short Track Draft, ARCA Menards Series East Champion Sam Mayer, discussed the importance of being able to conduct himself well in interviews this week during an appearance on Speed51’s “The Bullring.”
“I think one thing, being in the ARCA Series the last couple of years, is really having to be marketable. Sponsors have become such a big deal to me. Before this, it was, ‘Alright, we’ve got enough money to get a good ride and keep going and win races.’
“Now, it’s getting a lot more expensive. That’s one thing I’ve learned is being marketable, getting as many sponsors as you need, being social, being as kind and polite in interviews as possible even when you’re upset.”
Ultimately, finding the next NASCAR star requires a package deal. A potential top pick in the Short Track Draft should be able to deliver results on the track while also engaging fans and representing sponsors positively outside of the car.
Who will be this year’s number-one pick in the Short Track Draft? Find out Thursday, April 30 at 7 p.m. ET on Speed51, as the top 10 picks will be announced in the first-ever Short Track Draft Selection Show.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans