The shared goals of teamwork, speed and protection have made the partnership between CrowdStrike and SRO Motorsports Group a fruitful one since the sponsorship began in 2018 when CrowdStrike co-founder and CEO George Kurtz paired his twin passions for motorsports and cybersecurity.
An avid competitor in the series, Kurtz has won numerous racing events in Radical, GT4, GT3, and prototype competitions including finishing runner-up in the 2020 Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS Pro-Am championship and Am class champion in the 2017 Pirelli GT4 America Sprint season.
In the intervening years, the partnership has expanded to include Kurtz competing in events throughout SRO’s calendar, a brand presence in SRO championships on multiple continents and the addition of Amazon Web Services to the collaborative effort supporting the CrowdStrike Racing CXO Conferences held during events.
For 2021 CrowdStrike continues as the Official Internet and Cloud Security Provider for all SRO America championships, the presenting sponsor of the GT Paddock Club, presenting sponsor for the Road America event and provider of the Fastest Lap Awards for each series.
According to Kurtz, the relationship has proven to be symbiotic with SRO benefiting from CrowdStrike’s security capabilities and AWS’ cloud computing and data analytics, while the series’ paddock has become a fertile ground for developing relationships with like minded tech executives in a behind-the-scenes look at motorsports and technology.
“CrowdStrike offers an end-point security platform to our customers and SRO, and our main goal is to prevent breaches, which everyone has certainly read about,” Kurtz told Sportscar365.
“We got involved with SRO for a variety of reasons but one of the things that we had done in the past was to take our customers and put them in an environment that included racing, as well as security, and immerse them in the synergy between speed and racing and also speed, protection and safety in the electronic world of cybercrime, malware and hacking.
“That has worked out really well.
“We went to SRO and said we need a (B2B and enterprise) platform and that’s how we became a sponsor. Part of that was also making sure that we protect SRO and their data.
Kurtz said that CrowdStrike is not only protecting the business assets of SRO, but also the assets of its competitors and participants, sponsors, partners, and manufacturers, including business and financial records, health and credit information, performance data, analytics, media content and communications.
“Most people know that we’re involved in Formula 1,” Kurtz said. “We’re a sponsor of the Mercedes F1 team, but they actually became a CrowdStrike customer before we were sponsors.
“Mercedes generates amazing amounts of data that is shared with its employees around the world, and they really wanted their technology protected and when you look at technology there, or even in a GT3 car there’s a lot of technology and data there too, it’s really about having the best security technology that doesn’t impact performance.
“That also allows any team to do what they do best, which is focus on the car and the racing so security doesn’t get in the way of that. It protects them from these sorts of attacks.
“Think about the middle of a race if you get hit with a ransomware attack, what happens? That sort of protection is really important.”
Kurtz said he has found that the message has resonated with the C-level technology executives that are frequent guests at SRO America events.
He added that the motorsports paddock provides a unique backdrop for business to be conducted beyond corporate golf outings or invitations to attend a sporting event due to the opportunities for immersion, which has had the added bonus of creating more motorsports enthusiasts.
“We have two passions: protecting customers and racing, and when you put those two together I think magic happens,” said Kurtz. “We’ve generated a tremendous amount of business and exposure through the racing.
“Lots of people know us from the various series we’re involved with and I think there’s always that passion that allows you to connect with people.
“Not everyone is into cars. Some people play golf and other things, but the people who like cars, like racing, it’s an immediate connection.
“The interesting thing is we do have a lot of people who come who have never seen a race, never been to a race, and they leave saying, ‘Oh my God, I can’t wait to come back!’
“They watch it, they’re sending me messages, following up on how we did all over the world. It’s really cool to create fans in a sport where maybe they weren’t really exposed to it before.”
The foundation of CrowdStrike’s CXO weekends is its immersive CXO roundtables where senior security/technology executives have the opportunity to share the issues confronting their businesses today, be immersed in the behind the scenes world of motorsports, and at the same time build strong peer to peer relationships with top industry leaders participating.
Joining CrowdStrike’s CXO program is AWS, which has been engaged since the first year, and together have brought numerous industry leaders into the SRO paddock.
Additionally, CJ Moses, deputy CISO of AWS, also competes in GT America powered by AWS while also connecting on a personal level with their CXO guests over the weekend.
“These events bring like-minded people together for the CXO roundtables,” Kurtz added. “Then they have someone to root for and it’s always good when you have a dog in the fight.
“And a lot of our guests are from a tech background and anything tech-related they like.
“Just showing them how data is actually used and how you have to protect it, whether it’s the SRO BoP data, or team data, how it really drives a lot of setup changes, improves driver performance, and learning what we do as drivers resonates.”
The desire to have a setting within the paddock for peer-to-peer interaction between business executives was a key part of the drive to establish SRO America’s GT Paddock Club presented by CrowdStrike and AWS, which debuted in 2019.
Kurtz said that hosting corporate partners and potential customers at the track has proven to be uniquely suited for forging deep, lasting relationships thanks in part to a focus on creating an enjoyable experience for executives without the pressures of a sales pitch.
“We call it a no-selling zone,” said Kurtz. “The best thing that we can do is have customers talk to prospects.
“That’s the best thing because it’s one thing if we say it but it’s another if your customer peers tell someone else.
“The big thing for us is that we want people to be comfortable and not come here thinking they’re going to have to sit through a vacation home pitch or something. That’s not the case here.
“What we find is that we create an environment where people get to know each other over a couple of days.
“You have dinners, you’re involved, there are several races. It’s not just a four or five-hour stretch. Those relationships have tended to last a long time.”