After 22 years at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Mel Harder is leaving his senior vice president position at IMS to become the senior vice president and general manager for Circuit of The Americas. Harder will assume his new responsibilities in Austin, Texas, on March 1.
Harder will report to CoTA president Steve Sexton and will manage the circuit's motorsports and facility operations; transportation, security, safety and medical teams; and serve as operational liaison with local, state and federal agencies.
"Circuit of The Americas is pleased to welcome someone with Mel Harder's exceptional track record, experience and passion for the future of motorsports to America's new home for World Championships," Sexton said. "Mel's operational leadership at IMS helped the historic racing venue prepare for and execute large-scale, first-class events with outstanding competitor and fan experiences and positive financial results. He's planned and staged national and international motorsports competitions, including the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix when it was held in Indy and the track's current MotoGP event, and has helped the company's marketing partners fully leverage their consumer activation programs. Mel will be an invaluable resource as Circuit of The Americas grows its motorsports and entertainment roster this season-and its business model through innovative venue uses. He's is a quality individual and will fit well with the Circuit of The Americas team."
At IMS, Harder led the teams that oversaw track operations, maintenance, engineering, ticketing, guest services, food and beverage, retail, creative services and golf course management. In 2012, he directed the first-ever use of the road course and the oval track for major racing events in consecutive days as part of the Super Weekend at the Brickyard. The weekend consisted of four races in three days for Grand-Am's Rolex and Continental Tire Series, as well as NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series. Harder was also part of the management team that planned and executed Indy's inaugural F-1 United States Grand Prix in September 2000, an event that was honored with the "Promoter of the Year" award in 2000 and 2007.
"It is an honor to join Circuit of The Americas during such an exciting time in the company's young history-and with the opportunity to build on what was a remarkable first-year experience with Formula 1 racing in Austin," Harder said. "My career has been dedicated to showcasing the very best in sports and entertainment, while finding innovative ways to expand and enhance the on-track experience for teams, guests and business partners. I'm proud to have played an integral part in diversifying one of the most revered brands in motorsports, while respecting the traditions that make the Indianapolis Motor Speedway a legendary racetrack. I look forward to bringing my experience to Circuit of The Americas as it welcomes four new premier racing series, dozens of concerts and a wide variety of business and special events to its one-of-a-kind facility in 2013."