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IndyBar: TRAC 2014: Networking, Education and … Moonshine?

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By Wesley A. Zirkle, Executive Vice President & General Counsel, JMITRAC Co-Founder & 2015 Conference Chair

The seventh annual The Racing Attorney Conference (“TRAC,” as it is better known) was held this year in Charlotte, N.C., April 8 and 9. For those of you already familiar with TRAC, please allow me a few sentences to provide others with some background.
 

iba-photo-award-15col Steve Newmark (pictured at left), President of Roush Fenway Racing, presents the 2014 TRAC STAR Award to Stoke Caldwell, Partner at Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson.

TRAC was founded to facilitate networking and learning among attorneys whose practices touch some form of motorsport, with particular emphasis on uniting the open-wheel and stock car legal communities. The conference therefore rotates between Indianapolis and Charlotte every year, co-sponsored by the Indianapolis Bar Association and the North Carolina Bar Association. Over the past few conferences, a friendly rivalry has developed between conference organizers in Indy and those in Charlotte, trying to one-up each other with better and better conferences. This year, Charlotte set the bar high for those of us organizing TRAC 2015 in Indy.

What started as an effort to get a handful of attorneys from Indy and Charlotte to share ideas has turned into something much greater. TRAC 2014 had more than 100 attendees from 15 different states! Moreover, it has turned into the “must attend” event for many of motorsports’ behind-the-scenes power brokers. Attending TRAC virtually guarantees a conversation will be had, or a friendship formed, with men and women who had a part in shaping motorsports from just a bunch of speed freaks and moonshine runners to a multibillion-dollar industry.

And speaking of moonshine runners, I said that the Charlotte organizing committee set the bar high and they did. The cocktail reception featured an appearance from legendary NASCAR driver Junior Johnson, one of the original pioneers of the sport who literally turned moonshine running into stock car racing. And he brought presents! In his retirement, Mr. Johnson founded a legitimate moonshine manufacturing business, creating traditional and flavored moonshine. Each speaker at TRAC received a complimentary jar of Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon moonshine. Mine was cranberry… more on that below.


iba-junior-johnson_15col.jpg Junior Johnson speaking to attendees of TRAC 2014 during the cocktail reception

But my Charlotte colleagues didn’t stop there. The keynote speaker for the conference’s second day was Kelley Earnhardt Miller, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s sister and business manager. She is widely regarded as one of the most powerful women in all of motorsport, and I can add to that a very gracious and sincere person… and a terrific storyteller.

TRAC also takes time each year to honor an individual who has made a significant contribution to the field of motorsports law by giving the TRAC Star Award. This year’s honoree was Stokely (“Stoke”) G. Caldwell Jr. For those of you who don’t know him, Stoke is the guy that many of NASCAR’s elite rely upon for legal advice (including Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Danica Patrick, Ray Evernham, and Roush Fenway Racing). He is an expert practitioner, a true gentleman, and an example to those of us younger attorneys who follow him. Stoke is also a co-founder of TRAC. He is a truly deserving honoree.

We also managed talked about law this year. The quality of the panels and discussions continues to be exceptional, providing high-quality content that isn’t available anywhere else. This year’s panels discussed sponsorship, tax and finance issues, insurance, compensation, intellectual property, immigration, sponsorship activation, track and facilities issues, and SAG/AFTRA, all with a focus on the issues unique to motorsports.

TRAC 2015 will be in Indianapolis April 14-15. Planning is already underway, and we endeavor to exceed the exceptional conference that our Charlotte friends hosted this year. I hope to see you there!

Before I close this column, I must share my Old Fashioned recipe which I created after trying Junior Johnson’s cranberry moonshine:

2 oz. bourbon

1 tablespoon of Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon Cranberry Moonshine

1 splash of orange liquor

1 dash of orange bitters

As much or as little ice as you like in your Old Fashioned

Think of a cranberry-orange muffin in bourbon form. Wow!•

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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