"Bank to stars" City National opens Florida motor sports office

Hollywood in Daytona: City National accelerates into motor sports banking

Bankers, start your engines: City National Bank is opening a branch just north of Daytona Beach, Fla., where NASCAR reigns supreme, to serve the auto-racing industry. 

L.A.'s largest bank, noted for its many Hollywood clients, said Wednesday that the office initially would focus only on motor sports, other sports and entertainment, not broader business banking and wealth management as its full-service branches do.

The Holly Hill, Fla., office will be staffed by David Pijot, who founded a motor sports division at SunTrust Bank in Daytona Beach, and Elaine Cunningham, a former client support specialist for SunTrust’s sports and entertainment group.

Pijot said he'll be looking to bank Indy and National Hot Rod Assn. racers as well as businesses supporting NASCAR's stock-car racing operations.

It's the latest in a series of expansion moves for City National, which in addition to a strong regional presence in California and Nevada has opened offices in New York, Nashville and Atlanta to cater to entertainment-business clients.

It's probably easier to imagine City National's Harvard-educated chairman, former movie executive Russell Goldsmith, hob-nobbing with the elite on Broadway than with race car drivers Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhart Jr. 

Still, banking NASCAR racers and the multibillion-dollar industry that supports them "is a natural migration for City National Bank," said Holly Bell, who heads the bank's entertainment division in Nashville.

"A number of our entertainment and entrepreneurial clients are heavily involved in the motor sports industry,” Bell said. City National's Daytona Beach crew will report to her.

City National noted that NASCAR attracts billions of dollars in sponsorship money each year, with Forbes magazine estimating that 1 in 3 Americans are fans.




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