(Photo: ISM Raceway)
ISM Raceway’s new president should feel right at home since she’s been deeply involved in the $178 million, two-year transformation of the Avondale oval, which has its Grand Opening weekend Nov. 9-11, headlined by the Can-Am 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event.
Until her promotion was announced Tuesday, first reported by azcentral sports, Julie Giese worked as managing director of business operations for ISC Design and Development. ISC — International Speedway Corp. — is ISM Raceway’s parent company and includes 12 other motorsports facilities.
“For me, it was a natural fit,” Giese said Tuesday during an exclusive interview with The Republic. “I have a great understanding of the project. I think my experience puts me in a position to not only open a new venue, but also make sure we’re driving sales, and making ISM Raceway the premier destination we want it to be.”
Giese becomes the only current female president of an ISC track. She’s been with ISC since 2001. She will succeed Bryan Sperber, who announced his intent to leave last August after 16 years leading the former Phoenix International Raceway, to pursue entrepreneurial projects in sports, entertainment and consumer products.
As Daytona International Speedway’s (ISC’s flagship track) marketing and communications vice president, Giese played a leading role in that track’s $400 million redevelopment that includes a variety of innovative spectator amenities and provided valuable lessons for the ISM Raceway project.
“I would argue we (Phoenix) have the best event venue now within ISC, with due respect to our friends in Daytona,” Giese said. “We now have a property that puts us in the same conversation with the other sports teams in the market. I want to make sure we are delivering on that fan experience we’ve been promising.”
ISC CEO Lesa France Kennedy said in a statement: “She (Giese) has spent close to two decades in motorsports, most notably with ISC, that included leadership roles in major redevelopment projects like Daytona Rising and the ISM Raceway Project. Julie’s unparalleled knowledge of the industry, along with her experience and passion, will serve her well in this new role.”
With the modernization all-but complete, what’s next for ISM Raceway?
“This venue has a ton of opportunity,” said Giese. “I want to create new content and opportunities for people to come out to see the venue. That doesn’t have to be a race. It could be other entertainment experiences or festivals.”
Giese described herself as “a hard worker. I grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and hard work is part of this business.”
The Can-Am 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series semifinal Playoff Race is on Sunday, Nov. 11 at ISM Raceway.