Sports Career Spotlight

We've been featuring executives from the sports industry since 2001. Naturally, some of these executives have moved onward and upward in their sports careers. We believe these profiles remain relevant and valuable because they highlight the hard work, dedication, brilliant successes, and lessons learned in a variety of career paths through the sports industry.

Thayer Lavielle

Thayer Lavielle, VP of Marketing & Brand Development

JR Motorsports


Former LíOreal exec will steer Dale Earnhardt Jr.ís brand

A bit of Fifth Avenue has infiltrated the modest headquarters of JR Motorsports in rural Mooresville, N.C. Thayer Lavielle, who spent the last six-plus years at LíOrealís New York office, most recently as assistant vice president of promotional marketing, joined Dale Earnhardt Jr.ís operation in July in the newly created position of vice president of marketing and brand development.

Hired by Earnhardt Jr.ís sister and JRMís general manager, Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, Lavielle will direct everything from JRMís Busch Series sponsorships to Earnhardt Jr.ís endorsements and the branding of his name, the trademark rights of which he recently acquired from his fatherís widow, Teresa Earnhardt.

In what ways can NASCARís most popular driver expand his brand?

As we move forward in defining the Dale Jr. brand, it is critical that we continue to be selective in his partnerships, choose ones that give great authenticity to who he is and act as an extension of Dale Jr. We are currently evaluating all of our partnerships and deciding on whether or not we can continue to grow together and in what avenues we can explore new relationships.

Dale Jr. will turn 32 next month. How much of his hip/rock-star/party image do you want to retain as he moves into his 30s?

Dale Jr. has always stayed true to himself. He makes no excuses for what and who he likes and why he does things. That takes a lot of courage, and I think people respect that. As a young driver, being partnered with Budweiser was a natural way to portray his ďrock-star ways.Ē As he gets older, like many of his fans, he is mellowing with age, focusing on what he loves.

How did you first get to know Kelley, who brought you to JR Motorsports?

Kelley and I first met when I was at LíOreal working on the European Designer Fragrances brands. We were just entering into a deal where the menís fragrance, Drakkar Noir, would be an associate sponsor on the No. 8 Bud car and Kelley had just left Action Performance to work for her brother. We became friends and maintained our friendship after I had been moved to work at Lancome. Working together with her has been great ó she is very smart, has great business sense and an amazing understanding of the industry. We complement each otherís abilities, which in the end benefits JR Motorsports.

Do you see a Cup team in the future of JR Motorsports?

This is an exciting time for the company. We are coming off of our first full year in the Busch Series [with driver Shane Huffman] and have learned many things along the way. Strategically, we want to have a very competitive and healthy Busch team before we entertain a Cup team, but yes, it is certainly in the cards.

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