THE SPORTS ENTREPRENEURS
Motorsports in the Blood
Chris Lencheski, also better known as “SKI” in the industry is a true serial sports Entrepreneur from his early days around the Atlanta Olympics to his very successful years across global motorsports. SKI & Company left its mark on the industry on many levels and Chris till today continues to shape the industry. Great insights and learning from his own businesses to the various groups he worked with over the decades (Comcast Spectacor, TPG Speciality Lending, MyyTake India), including an interesting opinion on what happened to MP & Silva. Listen and learn.
- Starting at The Easton Events Company (spun out from United Media) – involved in the Atlanta Olympic Games and developing the protection of the marks, oversight of licensing rights, building activation plans, a great way to learn the ropes
- Delos Associates – first Entrepreneurial venture
- exclusive event marketing and management company for 1996 US Olympic Team Trials for Cycling; developed Official Corporate Marketing Partners Program
- first look at motorsports
- Next stop, CMDC (Chesapeake Motorsports Development Corporation),
- oversaw advertising, marketing, sponsorship, licensing, real estate, development, co-partnership, sanction, and television deals
- involved in big Pepsi deal for new Venue (NASCAR track)
- MFP Agency (Marketing for Fun & Profits) – first time CEO working for someone else (Legendary Rod Campbell)
- Rod Campbell, founder of Campbell & Company (exclusive agent of Ford Motor Company’s racing efforts globally)
- MFP, was separate entity involved in other motorsports ventures Indycar, F1 (lots of new learning experiences from Rod Campbell)
- Next up, TSI Agency for a few years
- Strategized commercial aspects as COO for organization that fielded teams in NASCAR Busch Series and Winston Cup competitions for Christian Fittipaldi and Kenny Wallace
- Created the “The Cadillac Grand Prix” with George Debidart and the late Don Panoz (founder of ALMS), the first racing event in Washington, DC – comparing with the KL City Grand Prix in Malaysia where TSA was involved
- SKI & Company – back being an Entrepreneur
- General Motors (GM) had a problem and Chris had the answer – great story on how the company got started by helping to fix a problem for the largest automobile company in the world
- GM’s mishap in Golf – bidding against itself for a major sponsorship
- How a white paper turned into the assignment as “Global Agency of record for GM Racing”, developing strategies country by country, brand by brand (from Vauxhall, Opel, Holden, to Chevy – fingers in any and all with blessing from GM)
- GM’s large interests in motorsports around the world, including NASCAR, F1, Le Mans, etc
- Growth comes at a cost – selling the business to principals of former CSS Stellar
- Phoenicia Sports & Entertainment (live after SKI&Company) – transferring the learning and philosophy
- Involved across Motorsports and Football/Soccer (Bologna)
- Next stop, President of Front Row Marketing & Analytics (a Comcast Spectacor company)
- Operated the stadia, sports media commercial rights and entertainment agency inside the greater Comcast ecosystem
- Being part of a huge group and the pros and cons of it – picked up big clients Americas Cup, EPL Teams, French Football Championship Trophee Game (NYC), etc.
- IRG Sports & Entertainment – A TPG Specialty Lending Group company, involved in change management
- From Drag Racing to race tracks around the world & bringing ESPN back and growing Australia business rapidly.
- MP & Silva – Senior Advisor to the Board – Chris’ observation as an Advisor to what happened?
- Everbright Securities & Beijing Baofong investment (at the time of China’s big push into Football/Sports globally)
- Lots of senior leadership was let go and/or advice was being ignored by the Chinese leadership which had different ideas
- Story not finished yet
- Current role at Winning Streak Sports (a Granite Bridge Partners company – linked to Wafra – Sovereign Fund of Kuwait)
- Number One premium licensing company in the world. From Board Member to CEO at request of Board
- From Live streaming, social commerce, media support to premium licensing for major sports franchises globally
- Last thoughts, success is not easy, never linear and not a ladder (more like a spray paint can) & when juggling businesses, especially going through Change Management, the rubber balls are the businesses, clients, etc.,(these balls will bounce) but don’t drop the glass balls (which are the people you work with and the most important part of any pivot – especially in commercial rights)
- Chairman, Phoenicia Sport and Entertainment January 2009-present
- Chief Executive Officer, Winning Streak Sports March 2019-present
- Board of Directors, MyyTake (India) March 2021-present
- Board of Directors, Electronic Gaming Federation January 2019-present
Chris Lencheski has worked in the global sports and entertainment sector for more than two decades.
As founder and chairman of Phoenicia Sport and Entertainment, a sports and media consultancy firm he launched in 2009, he advised purchasers of Italian top-tier (Serie A) football teams, developed and executed commercial rights programming for Newman/Haas Racing, the IndyCar racing team of Paul Newman and Carl Haas, developed sports television programming for the Sportsman Channel, and has represented a host of traditional sponsorship/media clients, including managing the U.S. sports marketing debut of Chinese solar company, Trina Solar (SHA:688599). From 2009-2010, through Phoenicia, Mr. Lencheski was owner of International Hockey League franchise the Quad City Mallards, an affiliate of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. The team was IHL Franchise of the Year during Mr. Lencheski’s tenure.
In March 2019, while a director of Winning Streak Sports, a portfolio company of Granite Bridge Partners, Mr. Lencheski was asked to assume the role of chief executive officer, where he currently oversees all business affairs of both Winning Streak Sports and affiliate Prinstant Replays, which, together deliver the number #1 premium licensed goods and collectibles product line in professional sports by both sales and quality.
Prior to Winning Streak, from 2015 to 2019, Mr. Lencheski was the Senior Advisor to the chairman and board of managers of, MP & Silva, the Italy-based global sports media company. From 2015 to 2017, Mr. Lencheski also served as co-chairman, chief executive officer and a director of IRG Sports + Entertainment, a TPG portfolio company and leading promoter of sports and live entertainment experiences. IRGSE is the parent company of the International Hot Rod Association and the International Drag Bike League and owns and operates Palm Beach International Raceway, Palm Beach Driving Club, Memphis International Raceway, Cordova International Raceway, and Maryland International Raceway. IRGSE promoted more than 1,150 global motorsports, live entertainment, and corporate events annually at its venues and within its series.
From 2011 to 2014, Mr. Lencheski was president of Comcast-Spectacor’s (now Spectra) wholly owned subsidiary Front Row Marketing and Analytics (“FRMS”), which managed commercial rights, sponsorship, and analytics for the entirety of the Comcast ecosystem of stadiums, arenas, teams, and Comcast properties. FRMS was acquired by Learfield Sports in 2015. While at FRMS, his work included collaborations with the Americas’ Cup, English Premier League Football, the Olympics, Formula One Racing, and FIFA World Cup projects, as well as a host of international and national properties, including every major sports league in the United States and international sport governing bodies.
In 2002, Mr. Lencheski founded SKI & Company. With offices in New York, London, Dubai, Charlotte, NC, and Bethelem, PA, SKI was the first global agency for General Motors Racing and the recipient of BrandWeek Magazine’s Gold Award in the National Sales Promotion Campaign category for Mr. Lencheski’s work on behalf of client Turner Broadcasting and developing their program with Target Corporation. At SKI, Mr. Lencheski authored industry-setting standards and practice guidelines followed by major entities from network and cable television providers to Fortune 500 companies. From 2005-2008, SKI was majority owner and operational manager of its NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series racing Teams. In 2009, Mr. Lencheski sold SKI to a UK-based company, the terms of which cannot be disclosed.
Mr. Lencheski has extensive experience and connectivity in motorsports. He held operational and ownership positions in teams competing in NASCAR. Through SKI & Company, from 2005-2008, Mr. Lencheski was the majority owner and chief executive officer of his NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity team. Through his role as minority owner and chief operating officer of The Source International, a sports and entertainment agency, and their racing team, Innovative Motorsports, for the 2001 and 2002 seasons, Mr. Lencheski was responsible for fielding a NASCAR Busch/Winston/Xfinity Series teams. During his time in NASCAR, Mr. Lencheski developed many sponsorship relationships with global brands including General Motors, Goulds Pumps/ITT, Stacker 2, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, NOS Energy Drink, Pure Fishing, and Smith & Wesson. Operating on limited budgets, Mr. Lencheski’s teams competed both full and part time, amassing one race win, five pole positions, 23 top-five finishes, and 58 top ten finishes with two top-ten year-end point standing finishes in 2001 and 2002.
From 1999 to 2001, Mr. Lencheski was chief executive officer of the MFP Agency, an automotive-focused sports marketing agency founded by automotive marketing legend Rod Campbell of Campbell & Company. From 1997-1999, he was the executive vice-president and coo of Chesapeake Motorsports Development Corporation. From 1995 to 1997, he made his first run at launching his own sports marketing firm, Delos Associates Corporation, selling the portfolio to Joe Mattioli (whose family are the longtime owners of NASCAR Cup Series Pocono Raceway). Mr. Lencheski began his career as a vice president of event marketing, Olympics marketing, and director of sponsorship at The Easton Events Company, the official event management company of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
Mr. Lencheski has been an adjunct professor at the Columbia University School of Professional Studies’ Sports Management Master’s Degree program since 2015. He is a member of the board of directors of Winning Streak Sports, MyyTake India, Electronic Gaming Federation and a Founding Member of the Board of Advisors for Syracuse University’s Falk College. Mr. Lencheski is a graduate of Syracuse University and an alumnus of Harvard Business School, having completed the Advanced Management Program. He is married with four daughters.