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TMS Baton Accepted By Ramage

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, August 5 2021

Rob Ramage has been named Eddie Gossages’s replacement at Texas Motor Speedway.

FORT WORTH, Texas _ “Life After Eddie” at Texas Motor Speedway became official on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, when veteran staffer Rob Ramage was introduced as the second boss in the track’s 25-year history.

Ramage, veteran TMS executive and general counsel, has been promoted to Senior Vice President/General Manager of “The Great American Speedway.” A 53-year-old resident of Dallas, Ramage replaces Eddie Gossage, who retired as TMS President/General Manager following the NASCAR All-Star Race weekend here in June. That event capped Gossage’s 25-year tenure at TMS and three-plus decades with Speedway Motorsports Inc.

Ramage was introduced by SMI President/Chief Executive Officer Marcus Smith, the son of TMS founder and NASCAR Hall of Famer O. Bruton Smith. Marcus Smith said Ramage emerged from a nationwide search that drew 30 applicants and went through several rounds of interviews.

“For all of the life of Texas Motor Speedway, there’s always been Eddie Gossage from the beginning, from the time we broke ground,” Smith said during a ZOOM conference with national motorsports media. “When Eddie retired from TMS this summer, it was time to turn the page. It’s never a simple thing, so for me, I look for a great leader that can communicate, coach a team, that loves people and is passionate about life and the mission of what we do.

“I think Rob lines up really well on all those fronts. I’ve had the chance to see him in action among his peers, among people in the community and the state and it’s been a really neat process to not only work with Rob for a few years but also see him work with other people. It’s always good to be able to promote from within.”

Ramage has worked for Speedway Motorsports since 2013, serving as General Counsel & Director of Governmental Affairs and Senior Vice President of Finance & Compliance at TMS. His duties have encompassed risk management and working with government entities, business leaders and community advocates.

“I’m proud to welcome Rob to our Speedway Motorsports executive leadership team,” Smith said. “He’s done a superb job in building awareness for Texas Motor Speedway with government officials and community leaders, and more importantly, building great relationships throughout the state and local communities we serve.

“What we do isn’t just selling tickets and Cokes and hot dogs. It’s really even more important than that _ we’re filling in the time of the ordinary of life. Our job is to provide people with fantastic memories that they can talk about for an entire life with friends and family. I know Rob loves it and I’m excited to see him lead the team in that way.”

Before joining Speedway Motorsports, Ramage practiced law in Dallas, focusing on complex litigation, intellectual property and business transactions. 

“I grew up with racing and have been a NASCAR and INDYCAR fan for as long as I can remember, so every day at Texas Motor Speedway is exciting to me,” Ramage said. “I can remember when Bruton Smith announced he was bringing NASCAR to Texas and then being here on Day 1 as a fan with my dad and brother. 

“I’m very blessed and very honored to just work at Texas Motor Speedway every day. I never thought I’d have the opportunity to step into these shoes and kind of lead us into those next 25 years after Eddie. He’s done a wonderful job and been a great promoter. I’m so excited and can’t wait for the next 25 years.”

Indeed, Ramage’s immediate challenge is replacing the 62-year-old Gossage _ widely acknowledged as the “P.T. Barnum of Motorsports” for his promotional acumen and a popular personality among media in the Dallas-Fort Worth market.

Ramage said he is recognized well beyond the corporate offices located in Turn 1 of The Speedway Club.

“I’ve always worn lots of hats here at the racetrack,” Ramage said. “I’ve done every job from driving a tractor to stubbing tickets to directing traffic, parking cars, engaging our fans, getting that experience to what they’re experiencing live.

“The transition _ the biggest challenge _ is letting our people know that they can shine and watching them grow in their given roles and responsibilities. I’m surrounded by great teammates at Texas Motor Speedway and led by great people at Speedway Motorsports. My goal simply is to let the people who I work with, help them foster and create the great ideas which they have been doing for years and leave my mark on constantly improving what Eddie set into plan.

“I love our fans and I’ve created meaningful relationships with many over the years. I’m very excited about the new friendships to come. There’s nothing like creating remarkable events and then sharing them with fans, partners and competitors alike.”

To that end, Ramage said he already is working on the NASCAR Cup Series event that will conclude the celebratory “25th Season of Speed” at TMS.

“In 74 days the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 is going to be here,” Ramage said of an event booked for Sunday, Oct. 17. “That’s a huge race, a Playoff series race. That is my No. 1 priority and focus. If you were to look down from a satellite at our property, within a 45-mile radius there is around 8.9-million people. My job in these 74 days is to let all those good Texans and people from all around the world know that you need to be here, you need to come to this NASCAR race.”

Smith said that while SMI is working with NASCAR on TMS’ 2022 schedule, no final decision has been made on a possible return of the All-Star Race to the Metroplex. Landing that non-points event for TMS was a longtime goal of Gossage, who previously was involved with the All-Star Race as a public relations staffer alongside legendary promoter H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler at sister track Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.

A total of 2,735,000 viewers tuned into the 37th annual All-Star Race on Sunday, June 13, won by Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports _ the most-watched ASR since 2017. According to figures released by Nielsen Media Research, viewership peaked at 2,933,000 during an event that began with the All-Star Open shortly after 5 p.m. (CDT) with temperatures on the tarmac reading an oppressive 145 degrees.

“That (event) is a big deal for the whole sport,” Smith said. “We are working with NASCAR on next year’s schedule so the answer regarding the All-Star Race is forthcoming. But we have big plans for Texas Motor Speedway, that’s for sure. We have a phenomenal facility in one of the greatest markets literally in the entire world. We have a huge piece of property there that can handle major events. I think Rob with his leadership with the entire team there will be able to do some fantastic things for years to come.”

The fate of TMS’ traditional spring NASCAR weekend, which dates to the track’s debut in March 1997, is tied to the All-Star Race decision. TMS’ 2021 spring date was “loaned” to Circuit of The Americas 3.41-mile/20-turn road-course in Austin, where SMI Media Relations combined with NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications staffers to promote the inaugural race featuring the Truck, Xfinity and Cup series. 

“We’re not completely ready to do that yet, given that’s part of the overall schedule,” Smith said. “We had a really successful first event with NASCAR at COTA and are working to that end.”

However, a series of downpours played havoc with COTA’s schedule and prompted the Cup race on Sunday, May 23_ won by reigning series champion Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports _ to be cut short with 14 laps remaining. But Ramage pointed to the overall attendance at COTA as a plus, and proof that TMS and COTA can successfully operate in a bubble separated by a three-hour drive down Interstate 35. 

“We proved it in Austin by bringing NASCAR, partnering with Bobby Epstein, to COTA,” Ramage said. “Texas can support three, four, maybe five big motorsports events.”

TMS’ traditional three-event “major” schedule has included at least one INDYCAR-sanctioned event since June 1997, when the high-banked/1.5-mile oval hosted the first nighttime Indy car race in open-wheel history. To accommodate the NASCAR All-Star Race in 2021, the NTT IndyCar Series staged a doubleheader weekend here on May 1-2 as a prelude to the 105th edition of the Indianapolis 500.

Gossage steadfastly maintained that INDYCAR _ which began its life as Tony George’s Indy Racing League _ always staged the most competitive racing at TMS.

“INDYCAR is family,” Ramage said, “and we’ll work with them when the time is right for the best solution for the fans.”

Since opening in 1997, Texas Motor Speedway has generated an annual economic impact of approximately $300-million into the North Texas region. Ramage noted that before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted every facet of daily life in 2020, TMS would play host to over 700 different types of events each year.

“Working with our team for the 2022 calendar, I wouldn’t say it’s full but it’s getting full,” Ramage said. “We have a lot of concerts, trade shows, car shows and all types of different activities to where the property is pretty busy each day.”

Asked if he had any outside-the-box ideas for the facility, Ramage said he will be looking to expand that already diverse non-racing schedule with…music.

“I’m very interested in making this property a premier venue for big, large-scale music events,” Ramage said. “That’s something that’s difficult to do but something I’m really focused on as kind of a new event for TMS.”

Ramage currently serves on numerous boards of directors that focus on supporting veterans, law enforcement-related causes and transportation matters. He was recognized for his charitable work for veterans by being named an honorary Commander of the U.S. Air Force. His charitable activities include Speedway Children’s Charities, the State Fair of Texas, Folds of Honor, Catholic Charities and Texas Parks and Wildlife among many others.

Adult tickets for the 2021 season-ending NASCAR weekend in October start at $49, with tickets for children at $10. For more information or to purchase tickets, fans should visit www.texasmotorspeedway.com.


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, August 5 2021
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