The Racing Attorney Conference (TRAC) fills a need for motorsport law study in the U.S. legal community and is an annual event co-sponsored by the IndyBar. Founder and attorney William Bray writes about how the conference got its start, what it has become and why it is important below.This article was originally published in Paddock Magazine.
By William Bray
In 2006, I was elected to serve as chairman of the Sports & Entertainment Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association. My role included one mammoth task – organising our annual conference. Previous conferences had focused on legal issues involving music, amateur sports and golf. But those subjects weren’t for me – I decided to host an event exclusively dedicated to the world of motorsports.
The result was a two-day event in September of 2007. I gathered a group of attorneys and business professionals together as speakers, largely from the world of NASCAR. We drew perhaps 80 attendees, and during eight hours of presentations covered the main legal issues of the day.
Our work was, by all accounts, a huge success. Requests for future presentations came rolling in. The president of the Bar Association suggested we turn it into an annual event. Who could have known that a need existed for an ongoing study of “motorsport law” within the U.S. legal community?
In 2008, we formally launched The Racing Attorney Conference (TRAC) as an event co-sponsored by the North Carolina Bar Association and the Indianapolis Bar Association, constituting the two geographic areas of concentration of motorsport law practitioners in the U.S. The 2008 event was held in Charlotte, and since then TRAC has alternated on an annual basis between the two cities.
Over these past seven years, TRAC has served to promote motorsport law as an important and unique practice area within the legal community. And building a true sense of “community” is a large part of the organisation. Lawyers from across the country have come to expect two days of education and networking each year at TRAC, which has hosted events at venues such as the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway Pagoda and the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The 2014 TRAC event in Charlotte featured a typically wide array of topics, including “Racing in a Global Market – Immigration Issues for Foreign Drivers, Owners and Teams.” While the first
few years of TRAC largely focused on NASCAR and IndyCar, the growing globalisation of motorsport has led us to provide presentations on international issues. Formula 1 is now addressed in some capacity on an annual basis, as with this year’s immigration presentation concerning challenges faced by teams competing in the United States Grand Prix. Other presentations at TRAC 2014 addressed sponsorship, tax, insurance, driver compensation, intellectual property, marketing and facility liability.
Beginning in 2010, TRAC began awarding a lifetime achievement award to recognise career
excellence in the area of motorsport law. The inaugural TRAC Star award was presented to Cary Agajanian, a pioneer in the world of motorsport law and driver representation. At TRAC 2014, Stoke Caldwell of Charlotte was recognised for his work on behalf of drivers such as Jeff Gordon,
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Danica Patrick.
When I was scrambling to put together the 2007 event that would later become TRAC, I had no idea that it would be thriving in 2014 – and beyond. But the popularity of motorsport in the 21st century has spawned a need for talented legal practitioners whose work has developed into a practice area justifying focused study.
For more information on TRAC, visit www.racingattorney.com, or on Twitter at @racingattorneys.