N.J. Formula One president has deep roots in racing, Garden State


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Tom Cotter, president, Formula One Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial.
Tom Cotter, president, Formula One Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial.

Pulling directly from the nation's racing hotbed of North Carolina, the organization bringing Formula One racing to New Jersey has named Tom Cotter to the leadership team.

Cotter was named president of Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial on Tuesday, solidifying the top level leadership more than a year before the June 2013 race. He joins former New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority President and CEO Dennis Robinson, who will serve as chief operating officer of the race.

"Putting the race together physically is complicated, but not that hard to do — this isn't some large civil engineering project," said race director Leo Hindery Jr. "We have felt for the longest time that the challenge and the responsibility here was more to the towns themselves, to the state — and because 110,000 people are coming to the event, it has to be an easy experience. … The combination of Tom Cotter and Dennis Robinson is exactly the combination we wanted for that challenge."

Hindery said Robinson's extensive knowledge of the sports industry in North Jersey and Cotter's emphasis on the fan experience were behind their appointments. The two also will need "to be a good partner and neighbor to the (business) community … it's that left-brained side of the project they're going to focus on."

Robinson, who officially joined the race organization Jan. 2, said he already has a long to-do list to prepare for the event. "We're running hard, balancing multiple tasks right now," he said.

Cotter's focus is on building a strong team across to launch the event, and also reaching casual and serious auto racing fans through public relations.

"Marketing, promotions and advertising will be expensive in this market," Cotter said. "We're relying a lot on public relations. I've had 20 years in the public relations industry, and really enjoy earning ink for my clients."

Cotter founded a racing marketing group in 1989, serving clients like NASCAR, Mercedes-Benz and United Parcel Service until 2001, when his company was sold to Clear Channel Communications. Cotter also served as public relations director for the Charlotte Motor Speedway for four years. He's very familiar with the New Jersey automakers involved in the series, too — Cotter was in charge of promoting North American racing for both Mercedes and BMW, in Montvale and Park Ridge, respectively.

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