Meet Brie Rentz: PR and Stretch Armstrong for PantherDRR (formerly known as Dryer & Reinbold Racing as well as the short-lived Lotus-DRR), the volcano loving, Scott Sharp mega-fan answers a few questions for Q4G.
1.) What is one word you would use to sum up the 2012 season with Panther/DRR?
Challenging. We had a great driver, great mechanics, great owners – but sometimes we had moments of brilliance and other times moments of weakness. Fourth at the Indy 500 was so awesome; having mechanical failures out of our control was so not awesome. It was very up and down, but at the same time we have such a good group of people that we really enjoyed ourselves and had a lot of fun.
2.) The team went through a couple of transformations this season…from the transition to Lotus then Lotus to the partnership with Panther Racing, was it tough dealing with the changes?
It certainly wasn’t easy. The first one, becoming Lotus DRR, was obviously a lot of work but we were all very excited about it. We renamed the team, re-branded everything to black and gold. We also had a period of months to do it over. We were so fortunate to partner with Panther, but the timing was very difficult. We had maybe 10 days to change everything again, right before May. I do our digital branding and marketing pieces, so I didn’t sleep much in those days!
3.) What has been the toughest part of your job?
The balancing act. Each race is unique, each sponsor is unique. Everyone needs something different and runs a different program. Organizing and managing all that can be incredibly difficult at times. And that’s just my job title – sometimes I feel a bit like Stretch Armstrong with all my different responsibilities. Recently, my boss was introducing me to someone and said, “Brie is our…well…she does a little bit of everything.”
4.) How were the Lotus days?
It was hard. You sort of knew where you stacked up and there wasn’t much you could do about it. That being said, they were a great group of people and everyone wanted it to work out. However, I think I can speak for the team saying that we were very lucky and thankful for Panther Racing and Chevrolet partnering with us from the 500 onwards.
5.) What are you most looking forward to in 2013?
Winning a race. I haven’t had that experience yet and I desperately want to know what it’s like.
6.) Be honest, how many times did you ask Oriol Servia to roll his R’s this season?
I took it a step farther. I told him I liked every word that came out of his mouth. I wish I could have photographed the look on his face. He didn’t talk to me much the rest of that day.
7.) Oriol seems like a pretty entertaining guy, what was it like working with him this season?
He is fantastic. I know that’s the thing people are supposed to say, but I really mean it. He is so funny and animated, but on the other hand is also incredibly focused and smart. It also really means a lot when you have a driver that comes in every morning and greets every single person, and at the end of the day walks around and thanks everyone.
8.) Are there any big surprises coming from Panther/DRR for 2013?
I think we just want to keep building on last year and improving. If there are any big surprises coming – they’ll be a surprise to me, too!
Now for some non-racing related questions…
It says on Twitter that you love volcanos which seems awfully random…tell us a little more about that.
I am absolutely obsessed with volcanoes. I have a Google Alert set to “volcano” so I can start off my mornings reading about recent eruptions. I truly wanted to be a volcanologist until my senior year of high school, then I decided that wasn’t the path for me because – wait for it – I didn’t want to travel. 50,000 frequent flier miles later…
9.) What are your plans for the offseason?
I already took my big offseason vacation – I went to Mount St. Helens (yay, a volcano!) and went hiking for several days. I’m also entertaining the thought of buying a house, so I hang out with Zillow, HGTV, and DIY Network a lot. Sometimes it’s hard to balance a personal life and my job during the season, so when I have the chance to be with friends and have fun in the offseason I take it. (Note: I’m pretty laid-back. Fun can be something as simple as game night in someone’s living room with wine!)
10.)What do you like to do away from the track?
Sleep. Ok, I’m kidding. Kind of. I bought myself a Trek hybrid bicycle back in the spring so I can literally spend hours a day riding. The miles logged on that thing in only 6 months are outlandish. I also have a great little patio garden that I spend entirely too much time on. I love hiking and nature. I guess I really like to be far-removed from technology and be able to relax!
11.)How did you become a racing fan and become involved with IndyCar?
My parentz drug me to my first Indy 500 in 2002. I wanted to hate it – why would anyone want to sit in the sun for four hours and watch cars go around in circles? But then I got there and there were the people and the colors and the excitement. I’d never seen anything like it. It made me feel alive. We were supposed to go again in 2003, but my parents sold the tickets the day before the race. I was devastated. So I went to the Internet. I learned there was a whole series of racing based around the 500 (honestly, I didn’t know that). I started watching and learning as much as I possibly could. In the process, I also became unabashedly the biggest Scott Sharp fan EVER (note: I still am and will proudly challenge anyone. Don’t tell my owners.) I began going to as many races as I could and eventually said to myself “I have to be a part of this sport.” I switched from volcanoes to racing seemingly overnight. I went to college and double majored in sports marketing and marketing. I was very good friends with DRR’s previous Director of PR. In the summer of 2008, he mentioned his intern had got another job. I must have nagged him for a month straight about letting me interview for the position. Finally, I did (it was an awful interview. The worst!) but I started as an intern in August of 2008 and never left. It was almost too easy, but I feel incredibly lucky. How often does someone get to do exactly what they wanted to do?
12.)Confession time, who do you think is the hottest driver in IndyCar? (You can’t have Tomas Scheckter, he’s mine!)
Scott Sharp. Oh, you meant a current driver? I harbor a huge crush on
Simon Pagenaud. I’m only willing to talk about it because Justin Wilson ratted me out to Simon – while I was standing right there, of course.
13.)Have you ever dated a driver?
Haha – never!
14.)What is the most embarrassing thing to happen to you at the track?
My very first race in 2008, I was absolutely terrified of my own shadow. And everything, and everyone. Buddy Rice was sitting in front of the door of the transporter I needed to go into, so instead of talking to him and saying those frightening words “Excuse me,” I went in our second truck. Except it wasn’t
our truck. And it was changing-into-firesuits-time – so I had 6 men that I’d never seen or met standing in front of me in their underwear. I was mortified. Buddy, on the other hand, thought it was hilarious. Not a great first impression!
Now for some lightening questions:
Hotdog or Hamburger? Hotdog – racing steak, hello! (Our transporter has a built-in hot dogroller).
Britney Spears or Lady Gaga? Britney – I’m a 90s kid!
Favorite Movie? The Goonies/Tommy Boy/Christmas Vacation.
Least favorite word? Brieber – like a cross between “Brie” and “Beiber.” I want to throw things when people call me by it. Worst. Nickname. Ever.
Preferred pizza toppings? Black olives and mushrooms
Dream car? Audi R8.
Stilettos or flats? Stilettos. I’m the only girl in a building full of guys – I HAVE to wear heels!
Finish the sentences:
A lady never…talks with her mouth full.
A lady always…has her nails painted.
IndyCar fans…have got to be some of the most passionate in all of sports.
If I were an IndyCar driver…I would step out of the car because I’d be too scared to drive (seriously – go karts and I do not even get along!)
People on Twitter…never cease to amaze me.