Sept. 6, 2021

MILES AHEAD MOTORING- Ted Woerner came to Indy for a 3D computer graphics job....met a driver...then a factory...

https://www.bemilesahead.net/ 0:11 Ted moved to Indianapolis to take a job in 3D computer graphics. 0:49 A guy Ted worked with said "I've got a good friend of mine, who's an IndyCar driver. Maybe you know him... Stefan Gregoire...." 1:45 didn't speak...


https://www.bemilesahead.net/ https://www.facebook.com/bemilesahead/

0:11 Ted moved to Indianapolis to take a job in 3D computer graphics.

0:49 A guy Ted worked with said "I've got a good friend of mine, who's an IndyCar driver. Maybe you know him... Stefan Gregoire...."

1:45 didn't speak a word of English

2:50 Dennis Reinbold introed them to MINI

3:19 advanced skills driving for young drivers?

4:07 BMW program 

Transcript

Jeff Sterns  0:00  
Now you're doing what I would say is one of the most sexy jobs or businesses that you could possibly be in. For guys that love being around cars and people.

Unknown Speaker  0:11  
Yeah, well, I so I moved in Annapolis to take a job in 3d computer graphics. It was a great job director of the design visualization center for a company called Thompson, which is owned the RCA brand of consumer electronics. By that time, I had several years of 3d computer graphics. In my background, that was my specialty. So I took that job, but in the back of my mind moving from Chicago to Indy, I mean, I've always been a huge IndyCar fan. And in the back of my mind, I was like, You know what, I don't know what might happen or who I might meet in Indianapolis, but at least I'm in the right town. And so a couple years after I started working there, I had a co worker who had just started and he said, Hey, you know, I've got a good friend of mine, who's an IndyCar driver. Maybe you know him, and I'm thinking to myself, okay, usually, anytime anyone says, I know an IndyCar driver, it really means that he's raced for me the forwards in SCCA for a couple years. But sure enough, he said, Oh, no, his name is Stefan Gregoire. Well, at the time, Stefan had just qualified like third at Phoenix of a field at 28. And was really kind of hitting his stride in the IndyCar Series. I'm like, wow, yeah, of course, I'm familiar with Stefan. So long story short, we became very good friends. And Stefan, for whatever reason, was kind of like the favorite driver of Mary home and George restaurer. So Mary was a amazing, beautiful person, very compassionate, and just one of the nicest people I've ever met. Anyway, she took a special interest in Stefan's career for whatever reason. I don't think Stefan's even those the reason why he says is probably because she felt sorry for him when he was a rookie, because he was the youngest driver in the field in 1993. didn't speak a word of English. His girlfriend who is now his wife was 19 years old at the time she was acted as his interpreter. Anyway, Stefan knew the ownership of the speedway. And after they built the Formula One road course. He said, You know, I don't know why they don't have a driving school, at the speedway everywhere in Europe. They all have driving schools, and now they have the road course. You know, they should have then said, Ted, why don't you work on a business plan with me? And I'll, you know, see if I get in front of the decision makers at Speedway. And, you know, let's see if they say, Well, I was a five year sales process. They never told us No, but never told us. Yes. And finally, we just said, Look through our main contact there, either feed this or shoot it, but we need to know because we don't want to be chasing this dream, the rest of our lives. So anyway, we got the permission to do a driving program at the speedway, primarily to train to provide advanced skills training to teenage drivers wasn't exactly what we were looking for. But you know, it was a foot in the door. They told us find our own manufacturer partner, we thought we'd have to use Chevrolet's, they said no find your own partner. So local car dealer here, Dennis Reinbold, who runs dry and Reinbold racing, who's been in the 500 number of times and was racing in the Indy Racing League at the time was Stefan, or at least at the same time was definitely not on the same team. We talked to Dennis who owned a number of dealerships in town, he said, Hey, I'd like to introduce you to the folks that mini because this sounds like it's right up their alley. So that's how we got started with many. And we've been partners with many for 10 years now.

Jeff Sterns  3:14  
So how do you feel about advanced skills driving? For young drivers? I know how I feel about it. But I've heard some people say that they're worried about putting their kids in a situation where they can learn to drive more aggressively. And some say if they know what the car I'll do, then there'll be more respectful. Do you have position on that?

Unknown Speaker  3:35  
Yeah, our experiences that it's the best thing. I can't tell you the number of parents that we heard from that thanked us and said, You know what? my teenage driver got in a situation tonight, then they said if they hadn't had that training at miles ahead, they would have been in an accident. I mean, we have numerous letters and emails from parents like that. So our experience is completely the opposite. In fact, you know, the cool thing that we has, because we're based here in Indianapolis, and so many teams and drivers live here. We had Indy 500 drivers instructing these kids. And, you know, in many cases, the Indy 500 drivers are telling the kids the same thing that their parents are telling him, but they're not gonna listen to their parents, but to listen to an Indy 500 driver. So you know, that level of influence and credibility was extremely effective. It was a great program. It was a great program, but a lousy business. You know, we it's very difficult to make money at it. But fortunately for us, we were able to start up the performance program shortly thereafter, because this beat with heard some really nice things about the job we were doing.

Jeff Sterns  4:39  
Now. Are you still partners with your original driver that you started with?

Unknown Speaker  4:44  
Stefan? No, he left the business a few years ago, but we're still very close friends. You know, that's one of the things I really pride myself on. I've had three different business partners over the course of my career and businesses that I've run and been involved in, and I'm good friends with all three of them. So we've always been able to Leave on amicable terms. Stefan's a great guy. He's still he still works for us, we still hire him to do programs the workforce week and a half ago for an event we had here in Indianapolis. And so we're still good friends, and but now I'm the majority owner, I have a silent partner, but her interest is 15% or so, something like that. So I'm majority owner,

Jeff Sterns  5:22  
and who wrote, did you write this curriculum, the original curriculum together? Or were you more in the sales aspect,

Unknown Speaker  5:29  
um, we worked on a lot of stuff together, you know, with my experience in design and graphics, that gave us a real edge, because I'm used to creating visual materials that communicate very well. So we always had a very strong, even to this day, and you know, the visual aspect of what we do our branding and so forth, they always gave us an edge. So, but Stefan was very smart. He very good took as our role very seriously, as did I know when the Indianapolis Motor Speedway gives you permission to do a program, you better do it well. And, you know, we took it very seriously. So we, we like to say we plan our work and work our plan. And you know, it, we were really, really pleased with the reception that we got from the customers and stuff. But we worked on the programs together. And you know, and I will say to that we didn't really look at other programs very much deliberately, because we wanted to do things on our own. Of course, we made a lot of mistakes, for sure. But I think we did a lot of things very well. In fact, when I did the BMW M. Pro, what are they called the BMW M performance track days or M track days last year, and the BMW Performance Center came out to the speedway to do that.

Jeff Sterns  6:41  
So this is in South Carolina.

Unknown Speaker  6:43  
Yeah. But last summer, they came out to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and did some programs out there. And this was really the first time BMW had done a program at the track. We had tried to get them involved because many is a brand of BMW and that's kind of a long story in and of itself, but ultimately, last year, they had a really nice program out there and which included the BMW M a competition is 625 horsepower sports car, anyway, but I was very curious to see how they were doing their programs because we'd been out there for so many years doing ours. And you know, there was some things I saw that you know, I probably would have changed from a little bit better. I mean, they're they're true professionals. Let's not you know, mistake that but you know, we did a lot of things right in our program and it's when other you go to other programs, see what they do. You know, it makes us feel good that you know, what we had done and the way we designed and conducted our program, pretty proud of it.

Jeff Sterns  7:41  
This has been Jeff Sterns connected through cars

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Ted Woerner

Author

Ted Woerner is a motorsports industry entrepreneur and owner of Miles Ahead, a driving event company based in suburban Indianapolis. Prior to launching Miles Ahead, he spent much of his career in 3D computer graphics. A lifetime racing enthusiast, he competed in the Midwest Skip Barber Formula Ford Series in the mid-1980s, scoring four wins.

More recently, he completed a book, SAVAGE ANGEL, on the life of his boyhood hero, Swede Savage, and how the Indianapolis 500 joined his spirit with that of his posthumous daughter, Angela, who was born just three months after his death from injuries suffered in the 1973 Indianapolis 500.

Originally from suburban Chicago, Ted currently resides in Carmel, Indiana. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from the University of Illinois.