Steve Potter is afraid to slow down.
'A fundamental terror for me is being bored,' says Potter, superviser of sports marketing for Mercedes-Benz of North America Inc.
It's a fear he can put out of his mind.
On a typical day in April, Potter is at his desk at 6: 45 a.m. to begin fielding telephone calls and sitting in on meetings. His workday stretches into the evening at an office in his home, a place he sees a little more than half the year.
'Last year, I spent 168 days on the road,' Potter recalls. 'But you know what? I like this kind of life.'
For the last three years, his life has been with Mercedes. He is charged with overseeing the company's marketing efforts not only in motorsports but in Professional Golfers' Association golf and professional tennis.
The sports marketing effort is a way to get the message across that the company knows how to have a good time, Potter explains. 'There have been times in the past that we weren't good at letting people know that aspect of Mercedes-Benz.'
Potter's mission to communicate the fun side of Mercedes-Benz in recent years means 'we've increased our involvement in sports marketing and motorsports,' he explains.
He would not reveal the amount of the carmaker's sports marketing budget and whether it has increased in recent years, saying only that 'it is substantial. But so are the returns.'
Industry sources estimate the budget at more than $100 million.
Keeping the company's image polished while showing that it is not afraid to let its hair down is partly accomplished by emphasizing the good times and success that the drivers of Mercedes-powered cars have at the track.
'There are eight drivers in the CART series, and, yes, they are paid a lot of money,' he points out. 'But they are having a great time.'
The manufacturer recorded some high-profile wins last year.
In North America, Mercedes-Benz captured the CART Manufacturer's Championship, relying on the IC108D engine to grab nine victories and finish second or better in 19 of 20 races in the series.
Working with AMG, Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow racing cars were created in 128 days to race in the team's first FIA GT Championship in Hockenheim, Germany. AMG-Mercedes took the team title with six wins and eight pole positions.
Potter points out that Mercedes-Benz wants to help its dealers take advantage of the exposure provided by successes on the track.
A new edition of a manual is printed each year that explains how dealers can work with market managers to use motorsports as a way to attract customers and retain employees.
For example, 'Dealers have opportunities to bring customers and employees to our events,' Potter notes. Dealers in the Los Angeles region took advantage of the opportunity, he says, taking 350 guests to the Long Beach Grand Prix.
With its racing successes and efforts to communicate the fun side of Mercedes-Benz, Potter believes the manufacturer will stay the course.
'Our intention is to continue on the path we're on now. We are competing at the very top, and we've enjoyed a good level of success,' he says. 'I don't foresee any significant changes.'
Michael Bradford is a free-lance reporter based in New Orleans.