I was doing some light and casual reading the other day, trying to determine which side of my brain is the dominant side of my noggin. While I seem to want to be creative, I am a technical person focused on Information Technology. I just cannot escape the way I am wired, nor can you!
Back in February of this year I attended the 2011 Winter Indy Tweetup at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This little gathering is affectionately referred to as WIT. Monica Hilton and her pal, Elizabeth Lenzi Wertz have been organizing this event for the past few years and it is at WIT that I met a speaker named Daniel Incandela. Daniel moderated the first part of day one and I took a few minutes after the scavenger hunt at IMS to speak with him. Man am I glad that I did! A little digging revealed that Daniel may just have one of the most fascinating positions involving the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and brand awareness. If you read anything produced by IMS, or if you even take a look at some motorspeedway related photographs, you probably touched his product. Daniel is the Director of Online Strategies for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and I am very grateful that he agreed to be the topic of the inaugural edition of ‘Ten Questions With’, featured here on WideOpenWheel. Daniel has grown up in the world of motorsport as his father was an F-1 mechanic, engineer and all around Renaissance Man. Now, how does this all tie in with the left lobe of the brain? Please allow me to explain in a 10 question and answer format. Without further ado, I introduce the man that is truly behind the new media curtain at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Mr. Daniel Incandela.
Ten Questions with the “All Things Web Presence Dude” from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
1. What in the devil is a Director of Online Strategies for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation?
It’s all things digital with a strong focus on content and the fan experience. It’s about bringing the rich history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway alive on online, supporting our 3 big events, developing new online experiences, innovating, evolving and lots more. We’re involved in everything from the news stories you read on our site, to the emails you receive, to the Tweets you read and the photos you see. We’re just getting started and the company understands it needs a stronger online presence.
2. Your online bio lists 2 positions, one at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the other at IMS. What did you do prior to the museum gig?
Many, many years ago I worked for my parent’s race team, Indy Regency Racing – but I knew working on a team wasn’t going to be my long term career. When I finished college I realized I wanted to work in the museum field. My first job was at the Indiana State Museum producing live, educational video classes. It quickly morphed into more of a technology/digital focus – which ultimately led to my job at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. That’s where things really took off for me – an amazing 5 years.
3. What is it about Hip Hop that appeals to you? Doesn’t that conflict with your appreciation of classical music and Gershwin tunes?
My dad really loved classical music, so that’s just part of me. Hip Hop has been with me since a teenager – so a lot of moments in life or rites of passage are associated with various hip hop artists or songs. I love the poetry of it, the expression, the beats and the way it has influenced culture.
And if we’re being technical – Gershwin was heavily influenced by jazz and I think in many ways, Jazz paved the way for hip hop. So that makes perfect sense to me.
4. At the memorial for your father, Sal Incandela, I heard some folks mention that he was a bit ah, shall we say, meticulous. Can you give us an example of how you follow in his footsteps? Does your desk look like my home recycle bin?
I don’t think anyone would ever describe me as meticulous. He and I were actually very different, but similar, he was quiet, a big thinker, a traveler, loved photographers and slightly eccentric. Me too.
He was a very technical person – and I would much rather work on creative things. I returned to racing because my career led me there, not necessarily because of my racing background. He was born with racing in his blood, so it’s an honor to be working in this field.
5. There are plenty of examples of your infatuation with all things ‘new’ media. At what age did you come to embrace technology and was there a single incident that made you say “this is going to be my life”?
I was pretty much raised on video games, so I’ve always been drawn to technology in some way and learning software or other methods of technology always came pretty easily. Technology is a great vehicle for storytelling. Whether I realized it or not, that part has led me into a New Media field – again, I’m not a technical person – I would make a terrible coder or a strict project manager. I’d much rather create experiences using the right tools. And in this job, I really care about the fan experience. And I still play video games.
6. You grew up in what one can clearly describe as a motorsport family. Is your sister a motor head at all?
I have 2 sisters – neither are what I would describe as motor heads. Racing is a tough thing to grow up in. My dad was rarely home, worked long hours and sacrificed a lot. That’s why I have so much respect for mechanics on a team. They’re underpaid, overworked and giving up a lot of their personal lives. So as a family we’re really proud of everything he did, but I wouldn’t say we’re massive motor heads. We’re all following our own path.
7. Football seems to hold your interests, based on some of the posts of yours I have read in the past. What position is your favorite, or should I say, favourite?
I love soccer. I still play it. I’m going to start my son on it. I study the history of it and have read most scholarly books about it. It’s the World’s language and truly the beautiful game. I played forward most of my life – I found the other positions too boring (and you have to run more in midfield). Plus who doesn’t want to score the winning goal?
8. It is obvious that your son Oliver is the joy in your life. Not many people probably read your review of travels to South Carolina with a 2 year old. Briefly, share with my readers the extremes you went through on that journey.
I wrote an entire post on it, so you can read that if you want, but here’s the gist of it – I became ‘that’ parent on the flight that couldn’t control their child. I always hated traveling when there was a crying baby and suddenly I found myself in that position. It got so bad that I bought the person seated in front of me a drink. ‘nuff said.
9. Cigars and scotch or sprouts and white wine? What is it with wanting desert for breakfast?
How about cigars and sprouts? I love cigars but don’t drink. I consider myself an expert on desserts – so I need to stay up to date, you know, do my research.
10. Now for a fairly serious question; you have lived in a few different places in the world. Based on your travels this season, can you describe how the Japanese view Americans? It has to be far different then the Brazilians…..
Traveling for racing is nothing like traveling for personal reasons. You arrive, spend most of your time at a race track working with people from Indianapolis and then you’re in a hotel. Working in new media, we’re also usually very close to a laptop too. That being said, I still loved it and I’ve found that when you travel for racing – the locals are glad to have you, whether it’s Japan, Brazil, Edmonton or Alabama.
I would move to Japan tomorrow. I love the country and the people. Everyone I encountered was kind, polite and compassionate. I felt humbled to be there. I can’t wait to go back and really explore the island.
Final thoughts from GForcePaul:
I want to thank Daniel for taking the time to provide this forum with his take on things. Wasn’t that very insightful, informative and thought provoking? You really should add Daniel to your list of most visited websites.
Thanks and talk to you next time!