Lisa Boggs, Director of Bridgestone Americas Motorsports.

The Cleveland native has worked in the racing industry for three decades, her entrée serendipitous and her influence and impact since, long-lasting.

Boggs started her career working for Leo Burnett Advertising and a major client, Philip Morris, on the Marlboro brand. In her role, she got her first close-up in the world of big-time auto racing. She still credits the all-senses awakening at her first race-an INDYCAR event at Michigan International Speedway – as cementing her place in the sport. In the decades since she’s worked with legendary drivers from Al Unser Jr. to four-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves and brands ranging from Office Depot to Shell, Armor All, and STP to IZOD, and now Bridgestone and Firestone.

In 2013, Boggs succeeded a longtime iconic name in the sport, Al Speyer at Bridgestone on the Firestone Racing program. The role had high expectations and a bright spotlight, and she has both guarded the legacy and served as inspiration in her own rite leading Firestone’s motorsports program from marketing and logistics to personnel and budgets. She does it all.

Boggs is both a familiar face at the track and longtime ardent supporter of women in motorsports. And her diverse and successful career and top tenure at one of America’s most well-respected companies provides both inspiration and motivation.

I did not grow up a motorsports fan. I knew about the Indy 500, and I grew up in Cleveland, so I got the chance to go to a [IndyCar] race at Burke Lakefront Airport. But I was fortunate enough that my first job out of college was with Leo Burnett Advertising Agency. One of the clients I worked on was Philip Morris and the Marlboro brand so as part of that assignment I got to go to a race at Michigan International Speedway to better understand what they did and how the program worked at the time. And I will always remember, standing on top of the trailer as the cars came out of [turn] 4 to take the green. And that was it.

I thought, the spirit and the passion and the dedication and all these people I’ve met and how the sponsors and the business works, I was immediately enamored with it, the potential and the business side and the racing. You really do need to be passionate and that was my starting point.

I ended up getting hired by Philip Morris a few years later to work in the marketing and communications area as Al Unser Jr.’s publicist. That was fantastic and taught me the ropes. I was there for eight years and then I went to a large PR agency, Edelman, and did some NASCAR work along with INDYCAR . And 10 years ago I got the job I have now with Bridgestone and it’s been humbling, an honor and a pleasure. I’m so grateful I was able to build a career out of something I just happened to find myself learning about one day.

To this day someone, someone will occasionally say, ‘what do you do?’ and I’ll say, “I’m the director of motorsports for Bridgestone Americas, which is primarily NTT IndyCar Series and INDY NXT by Firestone.” They look at me. And I say, ‘yes, not what you expected.’ Thirty years ago, not what I expected, but I could not be happier that is now my answer.’

What I have found that is sort of like that litmus test, is I say, ‘what is the worst thing that could happen with a decision that you’re going to make or something you may want to pursue?’  And the true honest answer, you think about, is it something you can live with should it not work out. For me, as I was making the jump, I thought, what was the worst thing that happens here? What if I don’t like it?  Will I still be glad I took the chance?

And the answer to that is ‘absolutely.’ I tried. If it doesn’t work out, I’m okay with that. I’m still glad I took the chance.

Essentially, I would tell my younger self, ‘it’s going to be okay.’ Which is simply saying, if we all only knew then what we know now, we’d say, ‘okay, relax.’ I really would just remind or tell my younger self, ‘stay true to who you are and what your path is even if it’s not what you expected or it’s different from others. Just stick to it, you will be glad.

Trust your gut and stay the course.

I’m on the road so much, and what we do is definitely not 9-to-5. So sometimes just to relax, I like to take a walk with my dog, “Indy” – a very large golden doodle. Or a great Sunday brunch where you just sit and talk with friends for hours is one of my favorite things to do.

For fun, I like to learn about and go to different countries.  I love picking a country or a place that I haven’t been to. Maybe it’s to see different animals – I enjoy going to the continent of Africa – or going somewhere in Europe. I’ve had the chance to go to Africa five times, to Nepal and Myanmar as well to name a few places. You just go and learn about different cultures and places and it really takes you out of your day-to-day and gives you great perspective.

I really like the author Ann Patchett, who happens to also live in Nashville and she actually owns a terrific bookstore here. It’s both serendipity and fun because I started reading Ann Patchett prior to moving here. The novel “Bel Canto” was the first book of hers I read. I finished “The Dutch House” – she’s one of the few authors I’ve read almost all of her books. She wrote a book of essays, “These Precious Days” so I’m starting that next.

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