February 22, 2016

If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Sammie Lukaskiewicz, senior director of communications for Michigan International Speedway, you found her energy and enthusiasm infectious. Since 2006, the El Paso, Texas, native has managed the speedway’s public relations, media relations, marketing, promotions, branding, advertising and credentials.

With a long career in motorsports, many might not know that early in her career Sammie was a crime and courts, city beat reporter and later a copy editor and page designer at The Daily Press in Victorville, California, and The Desert Dispatch in Barstow, California.

Armed with a Master of Arts degree in management and leadership from Webster University in St. Louis, the dynamic personality was recently appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder as a travel commissioner.

From career advice to her biggest mistake, Sammie shares all in this question-and-answer session as well as things you might not know about her.

Q&A with Sammie:

  • What is the best lesson from college that still applies to your job? A journalism professor told me: “To write well, you need to read, write and read writing.”
  • What is the best career advice you ever received? Invest the max in your 401k.
  • What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? The team shut down the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan to celebrate Brad Keselowski’s NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. He drove his No. 2 Miller Lite Ford across it – and then we brought the car across Lake Huron to a reception at The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, an island that does not allow motorized vehicles of any kind. Needless to say, it was a huge undertaking and took a lot of teamwork from a lot of people in our industry to do all that in a day.
  • What is the biggest myth about your job? That I only work a few weekends a year.
  • What is the insider secret to your job? Look like you know what you’re doing, and everyone will think you do.
  • What is the best part of your job? I get to meet a lot of interesting people and do some pretty fun things along the way. People choose to come to MIS, and I’m happy I can be a small part of something so meaningful for NASCAR fans. 
  • Why did you choose your career path? This career path chose me. When I left California, it was because my husband got orders for Fort Leavenworth. So I sent a resume to Kansas Speedway and the Kansas City Star. Kansas Speedway called me first. And the rest is history.
  • What has been your best mistake? A record producer we work with at the track offered a new act that had just signed with his label, asking if we wanted a free concert for MIS and its guests. I told him: “I don’t think Katy Perry is our demo. Got anyone else?”
  • What is the best part of working with JHE? JHE is professional and has a reputation for excellence that I find extraordinary. JHE brings peace of mind to every situation and I consider Dan an important part of the MIS team. 

Things people may not know about Sammie:

  • My biggest pet peeve is … The improper use of apostrophe. (Plural and possessive are not interchangeable.)
  • My family is … A two-day drive away. (My dad taught me that living away from family by at least a two-day drive was the only way to continue liking them. No popovers, no random visits, no stress.)
  • My favorite sport is … Well, besides NASCAR, of course, I love the NHL. I’m a huge Detroit Red Wings fan.
  • My favorite vacation yet … I’ve been to Africa three times; I’m going again this summer. There’s something about seeing other-worldly animals like giraffe, warthog, elephants and others that is magical.
  • My favorite movie is … “Idiocracy.”
  • Compelling TV binge … “Seinfeld.”
  • My favorite quote is … “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” Colin Powell
  • The best concert I’ve ever seen is … I love seeing Rob Zombie because it’s so theatrical and there is a lot going on. The production of the show is magnificent and the music tells a story. So it’s very entertaining.

You can follow along on Sammie’s journey on Twitter @slukaskiewicz.

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