Departing track chief proud of turnaround on Phoenix Raceway

A bittersweet symphony can be heard as the gates open for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship race at Phoenix Raceway. Track head Julie Geese, responsible for spearheading the $178 million renovation of the one-mile track, returns to her Midwest roots and takes up the same role at Chicago Street Stadium.

Giese’s tremendous outreach to the community and work to transform the racetrack into a world-class facility should not be overlooked. I took the time to talk to The Republic about leaving the place I called home for four years. This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.

s: How have these last few weeks of the season been for you emotionally as your class as head of Phoenix Raceway is set to conclude?

a: “We were so focused on delivering the best championship experience possible, it was a great distraction. On this (Monday), while we were loading into camp, everyone was reminding me that this was the last time I handed cakes with them. I guess now my mind is just focused. On executing the best tournament our industry has ever seen.”

ISM Racetrack President Julie Giese distributes drinks to campers on November 7, 2019 at ISM Racecourse in Avondale, Arizona.  (Brady Klein/The Republic)

s: How do you balance having the biggest championship yet and signing up for the last week as head of the track?

a: “I think on racing weekends I always made sure I was enjoying the moment. It’s really (about) reminding myself to do that throughout the week. I get so busy doing and delivering these trials that I always remind the team, ‘Be sure to take a second to step back. And enjoy it…Recognize what you are a part of and what the industry, Avondale, the Valley and everything else has to offer us. I will keep reminding myself to take a step back and enjoy it as much as I can.”

s: What will you miss most about your time in Arizona?

a: “People. This is a very broad answer on purpose. I will miss the race fans so much… It’s hard not to get emotional about it. I will miss the people around our community; the City of Avondale and the Valley and the State for supporting us… Community members, business leaders and government, it was all phenomenal. That, our team here at Phoenix Raceway and in the Western District. They are the best in the business. I intend to come back and celebrate the championship, and hopefully for years to come, here in Phoenix with everyone.”