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Life in the Fast Lane

  By Debbie Cline

At Buzzy Rocket we believe in growth, we believe in stories, we believe in ourselves and our clients. Growth is a process. It is a process that often includes great stories. I want to share the personal story of one of our awesome clients that highlights the persistence, love and hard work that helped him on his path to success.

Meet Lenny Miller

Lenny is a Boeing 787 Dreamliner Captain for United Airlines, author, former auto racing team owner, classic car owner and enthusiast, documentary film producer, and a family man. Lenny’s hero is his Dad.

Lenny’s father, Leonard W. Miller, is considered the country’s foremost authority on African American motorsport history. He was the first African American motorsport owner to have a team compete in the Indianapolis 500, and was inducted into the Black Athletes Hall of Fame in Manhattan in 1976.

From Hot Rods To Race Cars

There had always been a small number of black auto racers in the twentieth century who drove mostly for themselves. In 1972, Leonard organized a team named the Black American Racers. Their passion for fast cars propelled their progression from hot rods to race cars on road courses.

Leonard battled with reluctant promoters and sponsors who were far from convinced there was a place for an African American team on the track. Against the odds, they soared to the pinnacle of motor racing at a blistering 190 miles per hour.

Leonard and Lenny later founded Miller Racing Group, and in 2005 became the first African American team owners to win a track championship in NASCAR history.

Leonard published Silent Thunder: Breaking Through Cultural, Racial and Class Barriers in Motorsports   about his time spent racing, in 2004. Lenny authored a second book, Racing while Black: How an African-American Stock Car Team Made Its Mark on NASCAR, published in 2010. People and publications from Paul Newman to Jay Leno and USA Today to AutoWeek took note, with father and  son appearing on Leno’s show in 2010.

In 2010 they were on C-Span and it happened that a photographer who was watching the show realized who they were and thought his brother had been one of the photographers that covered the team back in the day. He wondered if his brother might still have old 16mm film in his basement.

This Is Where The Rubber Hit The Road

It turned out that his brother did indeed have film, and was happy to share it. Finally holding that film in his hand is what sparked the idea of turning Leonard’s experiences and book into a documentary. Lenny and have his dad have been working on it ever since.

They found the original race car in 2011 in a private collection in Texas. In 2015, Volkswagen sponsored a complete restoration and unveiled the vehicle at U.S. headquarters during Black History Month in 2017.

Since then, they have filmed during a blizzard, interviewed Mario Andretti, lived in a 30’ RV camper for a week with a sound team of 4 guys to get 30 minutes of the perfect engine roar, slept in a Wal-Mart parking lot (you need to get this story directly from Lenny!), and have overcome countless obstacles.

They currently have their racing artifacts on exhibit at The Smithsonian and are putting the finishing touches on their submissions for the top film festivals around the world.

The Story Of Lenny And His Dad Has It All

It’s the story of two incredible men and the mark they have made on history. It’s the story of the hard work and passion that has driven them for all their lives. It’s the story of how their relationship has grown with their opportunities to tell their story. It’s the story of a son’s ever growing love for his father and a father’s love for his son.

 

This story has a special spot in my heart because I have so many amazing memories growing up working on antique cars, hanging out in the garage, and going to car shows with my Dad, who is also my hero. We’re always adding to those memories, with the next generation of our family clamoring for rides from Papa and our generation still lining up to take our turn.

Life is short. Live your lives, tell your stories and never stop growing.

Debbie is co-founder, chief of customer success at Buzzy Rocket and yellow lab lover. From LA to London, she is well known as an expert in creating that certain elusive magic that drives explosive growth at the intersection of companies, customers and digital. she’s been doing this at companies big and small for 25+ years. Her background includes executive level positions at both public companies and startups where she has proven over and over again that her passion, drive and results oriented perspective get it done.

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