When Ed Rensi retired as the CEO of McDonald’s USA five years ago, he was only 53 and not nearly ready to quit working. So he teamed up with his brother and
built a business around their common love of motor sports. Today, NASCAR’s Team Rensi Motorsports is a success, with a fourth-place finish in the 2003 NASCAR Busch series and plans to add a second car in 2004. American Way recently spoke to Rensi about his transition from fast-food to fast cars.

American Way: How have you managed to succeed in two such different businesses?
Ed Rensi: For me, the connection is marketing. At McDonald’s, I was always very interested in marketing and set out to learn as much as I could. NASCAR
is one of the most sophisticated marketing machines I’ve ever seen. Motor sports are the only sports where marketing partners can display directly on an athlete or vehicle. And it’s all about leveraging television and promotions. Fans realize the marketing partners are the pivot points without which the teams wouldn’t exist, so they support them.

American Way: Why did you want to get into the NASCAR business?
Rensi: I’ve always enjoyed motor sports and in fact
had a minor league team when I was with McDonald’s. My brother and I always wanted to work together, and when he retired from Remington, I said, let’s try this. It’s been five years now and very successful. Contrary to what people think, NASCAR attracts a pretty hip crowd. It’s the most affluent demographic in sports.

American Way: What advice would you give to someone looking to make their hobby into a successful
Rensi: Passion. It’s much easier to grow and build a business if you have a passion for it. Most entrepreneurs who are successful have great passion for their business. I worked with small businesses all my life at McDonald’s and always felt very entrepreneurial. I work harder now than I ever did, but I’m enjoying it. When you’ve got skin in the game, it makes a difference.