Business

Humpy Wheeler's back in business

Made-for-television racing, aired in prime time. A new short track with a roof on it, paving the way for indoor racing.

Those are just a couple of ideas on H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler's mind as he launches his newest venture: a management consulting firm named The Wheeler Company.

Less than three months after retiring as president and chief operating officer of Speedway Motorsports and president and general manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway, Wheeler has joined his son, Trip, to form the new company.

Humpy Wheeler will be chairman, and Trip Wheeler will be president, while remaining vice president at Velocity Sports & Entertainment. The two plan to work closely with Wheeler Television, run by Humpy Wheeler's daughter, Patti.

“I've got plenty of energy left, and they certainly do, too,” Humpy Wheeler told the Observer in an interview Friday. “We think we can cause some changes and create some innovative, interesting things.”

Known for his promotions prowess, Wheeler, 69, spent 33 years at Lowe's Motor Speedway before announcing his retirement May 22, a few days before the Coca-Cola 600. He and Bruton Smith, chairman and chief executive of Speedway Motorsports, had discussed Wheeler's retirement for months, both men said, but ultimately differed over Wheeler's compensation and retirement date.

“I had had this in mind all along,” Wheeler said Friday.

“I don't really want to go to work for anybody anymore,” he said. “This allows me to do what I want to do.”

Wheeler said he already is working with a Hollywood producer on the primetime racing idea – “completely different type of a deal that nobody's seen before.” As for the roofed racing track, he said, “I haven't figured out exactly what I'm going to run on it.”

He noted that he developed Legends Cars, the first successful attempt at mass-producing race cars. Since l992, more than 4,000 have been sold.

“We can do stuff like that again. That was my baby from the start,” Wheeler said. “I enjoy the mechanical as much as the promotion end.”

The Wheeler Company will work with about a half-dozen clients, including the Speed Channel, he said.

“We don't want a whole lot of people,” Wheeler said. “We want to pick and choose.”

To start, the company's headquarters will be on Morehead Street in Charlotte, and Wheeler said they'll stay in the region even as he makes more trips to Tinseltown.

“We're not going to move the office to Rodeo Drive,” he said.

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