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General Session

Thursday, January 17

9:40 am 

Bluegrass Ballroom

Distracted Driving and Safety Issues

Andy Pilgrim 

Pro-Race Car Driver

Founder of NCM Motorsports Park Home of the Traffic Safety Education Foundation

“Traffic Safety is an area where this amazing country has fallen drastically and tragically behind many other countries.  We are killing tens of thousands more people on US roads than should be happening; especially when we compare to other countries that we were equally safe as or better than, just 25 years ago.  It’s a very sad political and economically driven mess." 

Andy Pilgrim is founder of the NCM Motorsports Park which is now home to the Traffic Safety Education Foundation,


Pro-racer, Andy Pilgrim's mission is to lessen the epidemic of distracted driving which has become more than just texting and driving. Andy works closely with NHTSA, Elaine Chao, numerous corporations such as Tesla, presents on the topic at schools, churches, etc.

As a teenager, Andy Pilgrim spent many hours digesting every letter of motorcycle magazines, dreaming that one day he would make enough money to try to race something, preferably something with at least two wheels and an engine.


 "I was hungry to get into the workforce and start earning money," he explains.  "After school I got into the new but fast growing field of Information Technology (IT), as a computer programmer.  Earning money gave me the opportunity to actually race instead of just dreaming about it.  As soon as pay checks started coming in, I converted my street motorcycle to a track bike, which pretty much meant wiring up the oil drain plug and putting some numbers on it, times were simpler then.  Of course I loved the idea of car racing, but that was so far out of my financial universe, it was never an option.  In fact, I didn’t even own a car, I used my motorcycle to go work every day, come rain or shine.  


His talent on the bike scored him several Regional Championships and a second place finish in the highly competitive British 500cc Production Championship.

American companies were hiring a lot of British programmers in the 1980’s and Pilgrim knew this might be the opportunity of a lifetime.  Andy was snapped up by a US contract IT Company after being in the workforce for a little over two years.  His first US contract job ended up being with General Motors, working for the Pontiac Motor Division in Pontiac, Michigan.


“Believe it or not I arrived in the US with all my savings in my pocket; that was precisely $100 and I knew nobody.  I did have a job but I thought they would pay me for my first two weeks when I got here, boy was I wrong, I needed to first work two weeks and then I would get paid several days after that.  Those first three weeks were pretty lean on food I can tell you. 


 "The other eye opener was my salary, it was $12,000 a year which I thought was a lot when I accepted the job back in England, so naïve" grins Pilgrim.


 To his dismay, the salary was barely enough to live on and he had to live on these humble means in a very tough area of Pontiac, Michigan.  “I guess I didn’t really understand living where I could afford was a big deal.  I made some friends and really enjoyed my time there, it was so different than the UK, I had a blast.  Looking back, it was probably a clear example of what I didn’t know not hurting me.”  

More on Andy here.