Business and Pleasure
June 17, 2012 by JoBe Cerny
Memorial Day weekend is one of my favorite holidays because of the Indianapolis 500 and The Grand Prix of Monaco. I was a fan of auto racing before I could read. In college, I bought artist’s prints of two of my favorite race drivers and hung them on the wall in front of my desk. One was Graham Hill who raced for Lotus and the other was Lorenzo Bandini who raced for Ferrari. Both drivers inspired me. I started racing when I was in High School in 1964, and I also drove in a race this Memorial Day. I have driven in over 1,000 races and won five championships. Driving is an activity I really enjoy, and it helps me constantly re-evaluate myself. Racing is about pushing the finding “the edge”. When I find the edge, I win; if I stop looking for the edge, I lose. It is sometimes uncomfortable to find the edge. But I was a good physics student and that helps me make good decisions. But I never competed at the highest levels of racing. Both Graham Hill and Lorenzo Bandini died before I graduated college. Bandini died in an accident during the Grand Prix of Monaco and ironically Hill died on a mission of mercy in a helicopter accident. I have survived over eighty racing incidents (I don’t like to call them accidents.) including a fire. So why do I race? I am not happy unless I am setting new goals for myself. And to my way of thinking that is what is so satisfying about being a creative artist. I constantly look for new challenges that push me beyond my comfort level. I didn’t win this weekend so, I need to re-evaluate myself and find a new solution. And that is also the greatest pleasure of the business of creativity.
I have been self-employed since 1968. So each day, I need to look for work.
Since most people work 40 hours a week for at least 40 years why not make that time enjoyable? It is very enjoyable to work on projects I am passionate about. My number came up early in the draft, so I joined the Army and signed up to be a mechanic and advance my knowledge of mechanics. That made the Army more fun for me and the skills I learned driving tanks, trucks, and heavy mechanical equipment helped me gain acting work when I got out of the Army. In films and videos, I drove everything from earth moving equipment to semi-trailer trucks, and precision driving.
But, I think I got to work on the Chevrolet account for so long is my interest in auto racing. I love Chevies. Chevrolet is an iconic brand and racing legend known around the world. I especially loved working on the Chevrolet Racing commercials. All in all I worked for over twelve years on the Chevrolet and OnStar Accounts. When the studio first got the account, Alec Baldwin came to my studios to record the “Like A Rock” campaign. I sat and talked before Alec recorded, and he loved working on the account, too. We also worked with James Garner, Sam Elliott, and Kris Kristofferson on Chevrolet. And, I went on to cast many Chicago announcers who did hundreds of commercials for Chevrolet and OnStar. We won a Mercury Award for the OnStar campaign, and that account brought hundreds of more acting jobs to Chicago each year, which is something I am very proud of.
I did a lot of sound direction on Chevrolet commercials during that period of time. I never thought working on the Chevrolet account as work. I thought of it as fun. I’d live and die with Chevy racing in both NASCAR and Indy Car. So, the Chevy account was a good way to mix my business with my pleasure. NASCAR and other forms of auto sports have elevated auto racing into one of the most visible and productive forms of advertising. Baseball used to be called America’s national past-time, but these days its NASCAR. A few years ago, I gave a speech in Indianapolis for Indiana Tourism. That year Indiana was the third biggest state for tourism because the Indianapolis Speedway hosted three major races: The Indianapolis 500, The American Grand Prix of Formula One, and the NASCAR Brickyard 400. The combined worldwide television audience for those three events was reportedly 1.5 billion people. I guess I’m not the only one who has an interest in motor racing.