In September 2018, Steve Phelps was appointed President of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR), only the fifth individual to hold this position since the organization’s founding. Based in Daytona Beach, Fla., Phelps oversees all operations, competition and commercial, for the sanctioning body, including the management of 15 racetrack facilities and the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) sports car series.
Under Phelps’ leadership, NASCAR has transformed its business and strengthened the sport’s position for long-term growth and success, with a focus on delivering the best motorsports racing in the world, providing outstanding entertainment experiences, and building a globally diverse community of loyal fans.
In 2019, Phelps led NASCAR through the sanctioning body’s landmark merger with International Speedway Corporation (ISC), integrating its operations into one, new, unified company with racetracks across the country. The historic merger helped create an aligned vision for the sport while positioning a now stronger NASCAR for new growth opportunities.
The following year, Phelps guided NASCAR through an unprecedented and challenging season as the industry paved the way for live sports to return in America. NASCAR swiftly implemented COVID-19 safety protocols to become the first sport to return to competition, first to safely welcome back fans and first to complete a full season schedule. All the while, NASCAR stabilized TV ratings at a time when nearly all sports were significantly down.
In June 2020, NASCAR emerged as a leading voice in the national conversation on racial equality and social justice with Phelps rallying the NASCAR industry to reaffirm its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. After leading an emotional moment of listening preceding the race in Atlanta, he led the decision to ban the confederate flag and introduced sweeping DE&I enhancements across the sport – critical efforts that led to a surge of new fans, partners and diverse race team ownership.
With Phelps at the helm, the sanctioning body refocused its priorities to ensure that a best-in-class racing experience is delivered to NASCAR fans on a weekly basis at track, at home or on the go. Through increased collaboration and consensus-building with drivers, race teams, tracks and stakeholders, NASCAR unveiled the sport’s most dynamic new race schedule 50 years with its exciting 2021 schedules featuring several new venues, markets and track layouts.
In May 2021, NASCAR introduced the Next Gen race car to the global motorsports community – the most technologically advanced car in NASCAR history and a testament to the sport’s ongoing commitment to innovation. The arrival of the Next Gen car marks years of strategic planning and coordinated development, representing the new era of industry collaboration that Phelps is driving across the sport. The Next Gen will make its highly anticipated debut in 2022.
Phelps joined NASCAR as Vice President of Corporate Marketing in 2005. Beginning the following year, he spent 12 years as Chief Marketing Officer and oversaw all marketing functions for the sanctioning body. He was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in April 2018 before transitioning to his current role as President.
During his time at NASCAR, Phelps has won Adweek’s prestigious Sports Marketing Executive of the Year and was named its Brand Genius Award winner in the “sports” category. In recognition of his leadership elevating the sport through the challenges of 2020, Phelps was named a finalist for Sports Business Journal’s Executive of the Year, with NASCAR likewise named a League of the Year finalist.
Prior to joining NASCAR, Phelps was Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Wasserman Media Group. In 1990, Phelps began a 14-year tenure at the National Football League where he served as Vice President, Corporate Marketing.
A native of Vermont, Phelps resides in Daytona Beach, Florida and has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont and an MBA from Boston College.
Moderator: Brandon Marshall, Broadcaster, Showtime Networks; Founder, I AM ATHLETE