On a racetrack this Friday, 14 North Carolina women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer will be celebrated as champions.
They’ll ride in style as a pink stretch limousine chauffeurs them to the Charlotte Motor Speedway. From there, they’ll be escorted to a skybox, where they can watch what’s billed as a “300 mile slugfest” with a panoramic view of the track.
Beverages and snacks will be on tap, followed by a trip to Pit Road. There they’ll meet NASCAR driver Kyle Busch and his wife, Samantha, before he climbs into his car for the NASCAR Nationwide Series 300 Miles of Courage race, held a day before the Bank of America 500.
The business behind all those glitzy details is Mooresville’s x9 Real Time Events, which organizes hospitality experiences around NASCAR events. For the second year in a row, x9 Real Time Events is working with the Pretty in Pink and Kyle Busch foundations to host a special program linked to Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
While the event illustrates x9’s specialty work with NASCAR, company founder Amy Stein says her 3-year-old business organizes nonracing events in the Charlotte area, too – from corporate Christmas parties to golf tournaments. Here’s a look at how Stein runs a specialty event company:
Rolling with the punches: Bad things will happen at any event, Stein said. The key to making it work is being quick to adapt.
She contracts workers who have experience hosting hospitality events and know how to fix problems in real time and not let them linger – hence, the name of her company.
“In the moment when it’s happening, fix it in real time so the client doesn’t know there’s an issue,” she said.
Staying connected: Stein said her years spent working at a sports marketing agency and heading sponsor relations at Kevin Harvick Inc. still pay off.
Once NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick and his wife, DeLana, closed their company, Stein kept getting calls from sponsors familiar with her work. They asked for events and she delivered, resulting in the creation of her business.
Now, at each event, Stein focuses on connecting with clients.
“At the end, we’re trading business cards and email addresses and hugs,” she said.
Customizing events: Last year, 12 breast cancer patients x9 hosted watched the race from an open-air tent near the track. But too much background noise prevented them from interacting.
Stein took note and used her connections with the Kyle Busch Foundation and the foundation’s connections with the Charlotte Motor Speedway to ensure the champions would be in an enclosed space this year.
Each hospitality event, Stein said, is tweaked so it’s different from the last.
“Although we might repeat an event at a location (where) we’ve done it before, it’s not going to look the same and the people aren’t going to be the same,” she said. “The connection with the end user is really what makes it enjoyable for us.”