Pivot Interview: Sarah Fisher
Pivot 2017 is an exciting event for several reasons, but two of the more important ones are its keynote speaker and its venue. Sarah Fisher is a racing legend; she is a former Indy Car driver turned team owner and entrepreneur. She’s also the woman behind the Speedway Indoor Karting (SIK) Facility, the spacious and adrenaline-pumping venue that will be home to Pivot 2017. Sarah Fisher took some time to speak to Gary Thomas and Michael Thomas at SIK and the insights she shared left everyone excited to hear more from her at Pivot.
The profession of IndyCar Racing is an extraordinary one. How did Sarah start out as an athlete? “At 19 years old, you don’t know any better,” Sarah explained. “But as you try and do a better job of going 200 miles an hour, it becomes pretty much normal. Your brain speeds up and you look at it differently.”
As a driver, team owner, and business owner, Sarah is experienced in multiple areas and has a unique grasp on “changing lanes” which is made all the more profound given her background in racing. When asked about her career’s progression, Sarah said, “It’s all about teamwork. It was about teamwork when I was racing cars; I had tremendous engineering, guys over the wall, and crew chiefs. Here at SIK, a lot of it was my husband Andy. When we started the facility, a lot of his foresight, thinking, and partnership [helped]. To transition from being a racecar driver and having a team surrounding me to being a business and team owner – it’s all about teamwork. It’s about having a great staff of great people and believing in what you’re trying to accomplish.”
Gary asked Sarah what the discussion was like at the dinner table when Sarah told her parents about her racing aspirations for the first time. Sarah’s answer provided valuable perspective into her upbringing and the support her family gave her. She said, “My parents were in racing. In fact, my mom and dad met while racing Go-Karts. My mom actually beat my dad in a Go-Kart race. That’s how she captured his attention. My mom thought [IndyCar racing] was a lot safer than those little Enduro Go-Karts she raced in the WK. [Racing] was a dream and I have awesome parents. They want me to believe in what I’m doing and have fun doing it.”
With Sarah Fisher as Pivot 2017’s Keynote Speaker, Gary and Michael were interested to learn what she might talk about at the big event. She said, “Main Street [Speedway] has been awesome, here in Speedway, Indiana. It’s popped up from virtually a gravel lot. Talking about that transition and being a part of that and seeing it ahead of time, as well as transitioning from being an athlete into being an entrepreneur is really important. We have a lot of great kids in our community that are trying to do that. Talking a bit about all that, sharing my career, and answering questions about the great day you’ll all spend with us will be the highlight.”
When asked about what “opportunity” meant to her, Sarah’s answer showed a level of depth that indicates a capacity for sharing wisdom that should excite all Pivot 2017 attendees. She said, “Opportunity is looking beyond the door even when it’s closed.”
A notable facet of Sarah’s personality is her modesty and her appreciation for others. She never fails to credit teamwork as crucial for her success, and when asked about her mentors, Sarah gave a lot of credit to her dad. She said, “My dad and I raced together for a really long time – 14 years! It was really neat to have that relationship. I wouldn’t be here without him.”
It’s clear that Sarah’s experience and intelligence makes her a speaker worth listening to. Her advice to new business owners was especially poignant. “It’s difficult as a startup in that first year. To get through that first year is so important. To have consistency, stability – that’s what you try to achieve. Getting through that year is a victory and that’s what you look for every day. It’s those little small victories that will get you to the big finish,” Sarah said.
Whether Sarah is discussing racing, business or teamwork as an ideal, she will be integral to Pivot 2017. As the keynote speaker, she will set a quick pace for the discussion and lead everyone to that big finish.