All race promoters are race directors, but not all race directors are race promoters.

Why is that?

Because as the race promoter, you are the founder of your racing company, the overall creative strategist of each race, and responsible for the leadership and future direction of your business.

And what is YOUR business?

Why, it’s promoting races, of course!

In my article what I wish I knew before I built my first race, I stated that over half of your time spent on building your races will be spent trying to sell it.

That’s races plural because if you want to build a racing company that makes money, selling only one race will not be enough.

In simple terms, the race promoter is the boss, while the race director is a role that manages the race promoter’s plan.

Essentially, the race director is an employee — a subordinate role — to the race promoter.

Can a race promoter be a race director? Certainly!

In many smaller racing companies, the race promoter and the race director are the same person. And that’s ok… if you want to own your job.

What? Own my job? What does that mean?

Let me explain. Wait, there is no time. Let me sum up.

In many small racing companies or racing companies that are just getting started, there are few key people available.

Everyone wished they could hire more help. But if you are just starting out, cash flow is a tough issue to overcome.

So aside from part-timers, your entire company most likely consists of just you, and free help from friends, family, and the occasional volunteer.

Without a big staff, most of the roles in your company will be filled by the founder — you, the race promoter.

And the positions you do not fill will probably get neglected until you get around to them, making for a lot of slack for one person to pick up.

This means you are now two people: the owner, and the only employee.

You pay your own salary (if you get one), and you let yourself know if you’re doing a good job or not.

You plan, promote, and direct every aspect of your race.

You’re the only one out there trying to convince park managers to let you race their parks, and the only one selling your race to anyone who will listen.

Your boss makes you go to the park before the sun comes up, and will not let you leave until every bit of race has been picked up.

You might be the best employee in your racing company, but your boss never gives you a break, never lets up, and never tell you you’re doing a good job.

You have a crazy person for a boss, and it’s you.

Congratulations! You now own your own job.

Still not clear? Ok… try this.

What if you just want to take the weekend off?

The same weekend of one of your races? You might say, “I’ll just plan around it”.

What happens when you get sick on race day? Can you call your boss for a fill-in race director? You might say, “I’ll just work through it”.

Ok. Then maybe something more serious will do the trick.

What happens when you have a family emergency and need to be both directing your event AND at the hospital at the same time?

Mmmm… too serious?

Could your company survive an emergency like that? If your answer is, “No, it could not” — to any of the above — then you own your job.

You are the owner, the manager, and the talent. If any one of you takes a break, the company comes to a screeching halt.


This may be tough to hear from most of you race promoters out there.

Many of you love being the face of the company, and you might think that many of your customers only come to your races because of you.

When you’re first starting out, that’s ok. In the early days, you don’t have the money to hire someone to fill the race director role anyway.

Plus, you haven’t been directing races long enough to even know how you would want your hired race director to behave in the first place.

You need experience, written processes, and time to build a job description that defines what your future race director will and will not do.

But you can only do that by working on the job yourself.

However, once you have a strong understanding of how you want your race director to focus on managing and delivering your races, you need to begin defining and refining other jobs within your company too.

Are you running race day registration?

Write down what YOU would do for that.

Are you building a course? Write down what YOU do for that.

Are you drafting a proposal to go with your permit?

Write down how YOU do that too.

Write down every responsibility you think each position should have, and do it as if you yourself were in the role.

Each draft of these “position descriptions” will help you establish a “job description” for your company’s future employees.

You do want those, right?

So what does all of this talk of job descriptions, defined roles, and standards have to do with NOT owning your job?

Easy. If you are going to run a racing company, you are going to need to go to work IN your business.

Imagine your first employee sitting across from you. What do they need to know about the position you want them to fill in your racing company?

What do YOU want, expect, and require of them?

How will they know there are doing a good job?

How will you know they are doing what you want when you’re not looking?

By working IN that job, and DOING that job, you know exactly how you want that job to function.

Then all you do after that is write it down so a future employee will be able to judge their own efforts against your provided standard.

Of course, one of the most important positions in your racing company is the race director position itself.

For that position, you need to define all the elements of the work that YOU think a race director should do, and how they should do it.

You don’t want your future race director to do what THEY think should be done in that position.

You want them to do what YOU think they should do in that position.

The goal is to communicate how you want the work done, by explaining it as if you were doing it.

Once you have it written down, then and only then, can you think about hiring someone for that position.

You cannot build past race director until you decide that someone else could and should do the job.

If you think about it, you are essentially trying to work yourself out of the day-to-day tactical functions of your races, so that you can work on more important things, like actual race promotion (i.e. selling your races).

That’s what going to work IN your business means.

That’s what race promoters do.

But many race promoters cannot move past this phase.

They cannot see that the position of the race director is a job, while the position of race promoter is a mission; a mission to grow a successful racing company.

They stay race directors and never go beyond their comfort zone.

While there is nothing wrong with that, and there are many small racing companies that do fine by staying small, their attention will also be split between race director and race promoter.

They will have extreme difficulty focusing on the much broader and more expansive challenges within their companies.

And growth will be determined by how much energy the race director has in any given year.

One catastrophic event, emergency, or bad day could jeopardize their whole operation.

Because when you own your job, your company stops working with you do.

Meanwhile, there are some positive benefits to replacing yourself as the race director.

One of the most important benefits is your new capability to start going to work ON your business.

ON your business?

When you go to work IN your business, you define all the parts that make your company run.

But when you go to work ON your business, you will finally have choices.

Choices? Yes, choices!

Choices are what you don’t have as a race director.

Choices like deciding if you want to be there on race day or take the day off.

Or maybe the choice to go on vacation, or have two races going on the same day.

When you were the race director, you didn’t have these choices.

Either you did it, or it didn’t get done. But with the proper delegation, you can grant yourself the freedom you so desperately sought out when you started building a race company in the first place.

Now you can decide what your company does and does not do, not just how it gets done. You are now free to think about trends, new types of races, new territories, or experiment with another discipline.

You can begin to leverage your race promotion system, and finally, be able to spend a significant amount of your time building your business and selling your races.

Let me say that again because I think it bears repeating.

The race promoter is responsible for selling the race. So as the race promoter, and not the race director, you will finally be unencumbered to put all your efforts into selling your races.

By going through the effort to build a race director role that will implement YOUR methods, processes, systems, and controls, you will allow yourself something you have never been able to do before: enjoy running your company!

And now you know.

Posted by Kyle Bondo

Kyle started Reckoneer with the simple mission of helping those who want to become race directors and learn the mechanics of outdoor recreation engineering. Kyle demystifies outdoor racing with over 20 years of endurance and outdoor industry business knowledge. Combined with his top-rated podcast Merchants of Dirt, dozens of articles, lessons, and infographics, Kyle has made Reckoneer the premier educator in outdoor event management. Build better races today!