Penske Profile - Adele Goodman

June 10, 2015

This is the 10th installment of “Penske Profile,” a series which highlights both past and present employees who have helped shape and build Team Penske into what it is today. This week’s Penske Profile subject, Adele Goodman, has been with the Penske organization since 1995. Goodman is currently the Executive Assistant to Jonathan Gibson, VP of Marketing & Communications and has done just about every job possible within racing, other than driving.

Goodman was born in Savannah, Georgia. Her father served in the Air Force before they moved to the family farm in Mooresville, NC. She attended her first race at North Wilkesboro, a track she and her family loved. Growing up, Goodman wasn’t the biggest race fan, but in Mooresville, there was nothing but racing, so she would go to the track or watch on TV with her family. Growing up, the Goodman's had a friend who worked for legendary racer Harry Gant and her sister went to church with the legendary Dale Earnhardt Sr., so racing was a huge part of the area.  However, Goodman never truly understood or appreciated what it took to be competitive in motorsports until she began a working for a team. 

Before Goodman started her career with Team Penske, she graduated from East Carolina University and wanted to pursue art out of college. She spent several years as a freelance artist in Greenville, NC doing sports illustration and trying to get into racing art. Popular NASCAR artist Sam Bass was kind enough to give her great advice early on in her career.  She had worked with the Petty family in 1992 on a commemorative print when “The King” Richard Petty retired; unfortunately, the QVC deal fell through after many months of work, so she decided sports illustration was not for her.

After moving back home to be with her family, found work at Kranefuss-Haas Racing, a small upstart team with driver, John Andretti.

At the time, the team rented their building from Jimmy Spencer while building a larger shop in Mooresville and only had about 17 employees.  Goodman recalls Spencer as a “tough guy who always chewed on a stumpy cigar, but was gentle on the inside. He loved to garden and would landscape around his buildings, so he’d pop in once in a while and we would talk about flowers.” 

Goodman recalls one of her best memories was when she received a phone call from Dale Earnhardt, Sr. asking to speak to Kranefuss. 

“I had only been with the team about a month and, even though I had met him years earlier, he wouldn’t know me from Adam.  After working in racing and learning the history, I realized how special he was and how this larger than life character was an anchor to the sport.  He was buddies with Kranefuss so he called one morning and I heard this deep, soft voice say bluntly in his Southern drawl, ’this is Dale Earnhardt, where’s Michael?’  I tried to be professional but when I told him Kranefuss wasn’t in yet and asked to take a message, he said, ’It’s 9am on a Wednesday, where the hell is he?’” 

Kranefuss had told Goodman that Earnhardt had a wicked sense of humor, so she gave him an answer that had the legendary driver giggling uncontrollably for about 5 minutes. 

“I won’t reveal what I told him but I’ll never forget hearing him crack up to the point he couldn’t even speak.  At the end, he was still laughing and said, ‘That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long time…how ‘bout tell that idiot to call me.’”   

In 2001, Roger Penske bought out Kranefuss and kept Goodman around.  Shortly after, the organization merged with Penske Racing South, Inc. and, in 2006, Penske brought down the IndyCar teams from Reading, PA. to form one large organization under a single roof. During the span of her racing career, she has served as a Sponsor Rep, worked in apparel, licensing, special events, driver schedules and appearances and even designed the Little Cesar’s No. 37 car back in 1995.

 “I’ve been here so long that I remember when we had one Engineer and could only afford one surface plate.  Every win is a special moment and the Championships are obviously the best, but my favorite moments are the ones when the team is all together hanging out and relaxing and just having fun.  It’s the chemistry and the comradery that our team shares that makes us special.  We have the best group of drivers right now which is this magical mix. I’ve seen how important good chemistry is in a team over the years and what we have now is very special. It’s been amazing to get immersed in racing and learn its history by being able to listen to stories or ask questions of Roger, Don Miller, Tim Cindric and other teammates who have been in racing forever that I wouldn’t have had access to at another team.”  

During her time with the organization she says she has seen a lot of growth and evolvement.

“It’s gone from sort of being like the Wild-Wild-West with big personalities to a more polished, controlled environment where we have to behave a little more but it can still be a little wild which I like.  Racing should never be boring, even off the track.  I’ve learned what integrity is and how effort really does equal results. It’s not just a catch phrase here.  RP has taught us how important the details are and that nobody should be ‘too good’ or above doing anything.  I’ve learned great organizational and marketing skills that I apply outside of my job from marketing my artwork to running the farm and even organizing family events.  The ’Penske Way‘ truly is a great thing!”

Goodman has the privilege of being the sixth generation to live on their family farm in Mooresville, a NC Century Farm recognized by the state as being owned by the same family for over 100 years. She has a 31 year old Peacock named George, alpacas, chickens, guineas, a horse, donkey, cats and 4 honeybee hives and enjoys gardening, art and beekeeping in her free time.