MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Born and raised in Bristol, Va., NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton has spent his entire adult life working behind the scenes in NASCAR racing.
This week Helton shares his story of climbing the ladder from an early start at Bristol Motor Speedway to running at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway and eventually becoming president of NASCAR on the Fast Car To NASCAR with Mike Wallace podcast.
Helton discusses his beginnings in the sport as a passionate fan to his days at Atlanta and Talladega.
“I don’t know that I had a pathway that I thought I should follow, I just got caught up in the sport and had some opportunities that I was very lucky to have along the way,” Helton told Wallace and co-host Jeff Kent. “Most of that resume was me being at the right place at the right time. I didn’t have any self designs growing up in Bristol to end up doing what I did throughout my life, but it really worked out well for one of the luckiest race fans in the country.”
Helton also discussed the adjustment he had to make when he moved from the track operations side of the business to head NASCAR’s competition department.
“When I came onto the NASCAR side, I felt like I didn’t know squat,” Helton said. “I already knew folks in the garage area from working on the track side, but what I didn’t realize is they came to me wanting something, credentials or something and they were always really nice. When I got on the NASCAR side, all of a sudden it was like them against the government. It was quite the difference to learn the sanctioning body side of things.”
Helton was also asked about the many changes within NASCAR in recent years.
“I acknowledge the fact that, yeah, NASCAR has changed,” he said proudly. “There are so many core components that have not changed, but there are a lot of components that have changed. I don’t know how you can not change and continue to be relevant.
“I was a race fan in the 60s and when somebody walks up to me and says, ‘I wish we could do it like we did in the 60s,’ I say, ‘Well, heck, so do I, but we can’t.’
“You can’t go back.”
The complete interview with Mike Helton on the Fast Car To NASCAR with Mike Wallace presented by Crosley and NASCAR Digital Media podcast can be found on SPEEDSPORT.com Monday evening or you can listen on your favorite podcast platform.