With the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge season set to kick off next weekend at Circuit of The Americas, Sportscar365 caught up with Greg Gill (pictured above, left), the new President and CEO of WC Vision, for a wide-ranging Q&A covering staff changes and additions, its TV package and relationship with the SRO Motorsports Group.
There’s been a lot of changes from a management perspective. How has the focus changed for WC Vision and Pirelli World Challenge heading into 2016?
“We had an announcement at Laguna Seca about the management change in the company. Within a few short weeks the board made a permanent decision, which made it much easier to follow into.
“Marcus Haselgrove (PWC Director of Competition) and I knew the direction we needed to push for.
“First and foremost — and I think everyone got this message — the series needed to focus on a greater level of transparency and really improve in consistency in everything we’re doing. Whether it’s how we’re going to base the Balance of Performance and the metrics that are going to lead into that.
“Our focus was really on Marcus building his team, getting David Caldwell in [as Director of Operations], adding Todd Ketcham to the tech manager role… Adding additional full-time staff with Dan Goodman on the TC platform.”
How has the feedback been from competitors on the changes?
“It’s been very positive. I’d like to say that everything’s been perfect, but [the Web site redesign] is an example of things where we needed to a better job on that communication process of what we’ve done and why we’ve did it.
“COTA, St. Pete and Long Beach will give us a great level of both performance metrics but also customer feedback on how we’re doing.
“So when we go into Barber, it will be a one-year anniversary from Barber last year where we had a very difficult set of driver meetings.
“I think this year will be much better and if anything, they’ll be more clearer and cohesive so people know their voice is being heard and we’re acting on it.”
The competition department is now completely separate from business side that you run…
“Marcus and I have a very clear understanding. He does not speak to me about the business, running aspect and how we grow and manage the business. And I don’t speak to him on how we run the competition department.
“He is completely autonomous and there is no meddling or interference. But we’re speaking every day and in constant communication because our business grows together. It’s not as though Marcus is out in a vacuum but he has the authority to do what needs to be done.
“Even during our test session [at COTA earlier this month], we made it clear, by how we set up our offices. He has his division to run and I will take care of the overall business and work together to grow this.”
Can we expect a similar TV/Streaming package this year?
“We’re going to do a live race this year [on CBS Sports] at Long Beach and are excited about that. Taking all of our races to live is certainly a long-term goal of the series.
“The live stream format continues to evolve. We’re continuing to work with the Replay camera people on how to engage more actively. Along with Motor Trend on Demand, which is a huge partnership for us, that’s something we’re looking forward to growing.
“CBS Sports has been a fantastic partner. When you see the broadcast time slots, which will be released in the next couple of weeks, you’ll see some great time slots for all of our classes.
“It includes Sprint-X, which will have three one-hour TV sessions dedicated to it, and continued coverage for the TC classes.”
How has it been working with the SRO and can we expect further partnerships in the future?
“It’s great to work with the SRO, which has a global platform and global experience. We can work with them on the information we’re sharing and the data back and forth.
“I think we’ll spend more time looking at that this year. Stephane Ratel has been in regular communication with us. Claude Surmont [SRO technical director] and Marcus Haselgrove are speaking continually as well.
“There’s been a really good partnership with the organization and we appreciate working with them.”
Has your role as President/CEO met your initial expectations?
“I think the pleasant surprise has been the outpouring for support for the series. Marcus and I have received tremendous encouragement. The board of directors have been very supportive of us in making quite a few significant investments.
“Anyone in this business knows how many hours you have to work in the off-season. There isn’t an off-season for those in motorsports. We did take a couple of days off during Christmas, but beyond that it’s been wide-open throttle with a really great team.
“My job is an absolute enjoyment and pleasure. But at the same time, it is a job and it requires a lot of effort.
“I don’t think we’ll do anything surprising [this year]. I think what we’ll do is continued enhancements and continued improvements.
“The spirit of this company has been how do you build? How do you grow? How do you do better each year? That continues to be our mantra.”
Check back on Sunday for Part 2 of the interview