About Paige

Junior

Mechanical Engineering

Major: Mechanical Engineering.
Hometown: Houston, Texas.
Career Goals:To obtain a degree in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration on High Performance Vehicles and to become employed with a NASCAR team.
Why I chose Embry-Riddle: I have been pursuing a career in the motorsports industry my entire life. I knew that Embry-Riddle was located next to the World Center of Racing, which is perfect for networking, internship opportunities, and hands-on experience in the motorsports industry.
Activities: Orientation Ambassador, Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority, Larsen Motorsports Intern, Honors Student Association.

Road trip, Racing, and Rubbernecking

Road trip funTraveling with a race team across the country is nothing short of exciting, exhausting, and eye-opening all at the same time. The summer has been an adventure for me as I’ve been road trippin’ with the Larsen Motorsports teams in the U.S. and Canada. Right now we are on day three of our 1900 mile journey from Michigan to Edmonton, Alberta as we are getting ready to race at the IHRA Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals. This is going to be our biggest race of the year so we are expecting an action packed weekend!

Backing up the Bays & Rupert Nitro Funny Car

Backing up the Bays & Rupert Nitro Funny Car

 

The last update I gave you was from Rockingham, North Carolina. I had an incredible 21st birthday at the racetrack and was lucky enough to be selected as an honorary crew member for the winning and record setting Bays & Rupert Nitro Funny car. Getting experience at the track, learning about the cars, and being a part of the setup/road crew has given me a whole new perspective on racing. I have learned that the attention to detail of the setup crew is what sets the stage for the entire weekend. We put in some long hours and hard work to ensure that everything is smooth sailing for the race and for the team.

Celebrating our birthday at the racetrack!

Celebrating our birthday at the racetrack!

Marisha Falk, in the Embry-Riddle jet dragster, also took her second win of the season and tied Elaine Larsen for the points lead in North Carolina. It still amazes me how I am living the dream as a college student at Embry-Riddle, as I am a part of a winning, professional race team at Larsen Motorsports. It sure does feel good to see that ERAU jet dragster in the Winner’s Circle. As Chris Larsen says, “not too bad for a couple rednecks and a bunch of college kids.”  Check out the video below that I made highlighting the ERAU jet dragster win!

Embry-Riddle’s Jet Dragster Road to Victory!
http://vimeo.com/96703597
Embry-Riddle Jet Dragster

Next stop – Budds Creek, Maryland.  After returning to Daytona for a few weeks, we began our month long roadtrip with our first stop being in Maryland. The plan for the month was to race in Maryland, drive to Grand Bend, Ontario for the IHRA Mopar Nitro Jam Nationals, stay in Michigan for the week in between our races, and make the trek to Edmonton, Alberta for the last race in Canada. As a Texas girl, I’ve never had the opportunity to explore anywhere in the north, so this trip would give me the opportunity to see the country.

The first night of racing in Maryland was rained out so the team was energized and ready to go for a great night of racing on Saturday. Elaine Larsen took the win in her Miller Welding jet dragster by 0.06 seconds against Dawn Perdue. Let me tell you, these ladies are about as competitive as you can get and battle to the very end week-in and week-out. That’s some good racing right there!

Celebrating Elaine's win in the Winner's Circle!

Celebrating Elaine’s win in the Winner’s Circle!

A Look In the Jet Technology Center Presented by ERAU
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=323680954451978&set=vb.145881218898620&type=2&theater

A look in the JTC

Sightseeing and enjoying the road trip has been some of the best times of my life! We’ve come away from this trip with a few good stories, to say the least. Not to mention Elaine driving seven miles through a construction zone with her rear trailer door open and dragging on the ground…Anyways, here are a few of the highlights from being on the road so far.

Visiting the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Air and Space museum in Virginia. I also like to call it airplane heaven.

Air and Space Museum

Team at the museum

Sightseeing in D.C. and checking out all of the National Monuments. It was quite an adventure driving all four trucks and trailers through the narrow D.C. streets…

National Mall

Going to Akron, Ohio – the birthplace of jet racing. This is where the shop of Art Arfons is located, also known as the Home of the Green Monster. Tim Arfons, Art’s son, gave us a tour of his shop and showed us the office that Art Arfons used to use. Traveling with the team has allowed me the chance to learn about the history of jet racing and drag racing in general. I’ve developed a whole new appreciation for drag racing after learning about its grassroots and about the pioneers in the sport.

Home of the Green Monster

 

IMG_2470 (2)

Next week I’ll update you on our Canadian adventures and the rest of our road trip fun! I sure do have some good stories to tell. :)

 

Hello Summertime!

It’s official you guys. Summer is here!! I am extremely happy with how the semester ended and am grateful that I pulled off all A’s! Woohoo! Now it’s full time at the jet shop for this girl. This is my first day off since summer started and it feels good to recuperate a little because we’ve definitely been working hard! As I mentioned before, my new position at Larsen Motorsports is the co-host of the Jet Technology Center presented by Embry-Riddle.

Summertime

Blogging by the pool

The 2014 race season actually started back in March, where we attended our first IHRA Nitro Jam in Tucson, Arizona. This would be the first race debuting the Fastest Girls in Town! The fans are hyped, the team is ready to showcase their hard work, and everyone is ready for a great night of racing! Let’s just say that this race did not go our way. We did not have a spectacular start to the season that we had hoped for. Kat Moller, in her Matrix Systems jet dragster, scrubbed the wall during her first run down the quarter-mile, Elaine Larsen had a FOD (Foreign Object Debris) issue with her engine in her Miller Welding jet dragster, and Dawn Perdue’s Sport Aviation jet dragster had an electrical short causing it to shut off after the smoke and fire show. Man oh man could it get any worse?!

 

Jet car maintenance at the racetrack!

Jet car maintenance at the racetrack!

Chris Larsen, President of Larsen Motorsports

Chris Larsen, President of Larsen Motorsports

Despite all of the troubles that the Larsen Motorsports teams were faced with, I can definitely say that the LMS teams display the true meaning of teamwork. The team worked until five in the morning swapping an engine in Elaine’s car and still gave it their all at the racetrack the next day. Our morale and positive energy sure did take a hit that weekend, but do you want to know the secret to our success? How on earth could we possibly recover from such a stressful and heartbreaking weekend? Well, the key to our success is passion. Every member of the LMS team truly loves what they do and would sacrifice so much to make this team stronger. I love working with a team who are just as passionate as I am because it makes all the difference!

Packing parachutes

Our next races were in San Antonio, Texas in April,  and West Palm & Bradenton, Florida at the beginning of May. I know I can speak for all of us when I say that we had a whole new appreciation when things did go our way. These next few races were smooth sailing compared to the first race of the season. My family drove from Houston to come see us race for the first time in San Antonio and it was so exciting to have them finally experience their first LMS jet race!

My family at the racetrack

My family at the racetrack

My parents enjoying the race

My parents enjoying the race

My sister Savannah (left) and cousin Taylor (right)

My sister Savannah (left) and cousin Taylor (right)

This summer will go down as one of the best summers in my life! Traveling with the Larsen Motorsports team is going to be an incredible experience that not many people can say they’ve done. I am truly grateful that I get to represent Embry-Riddle during my travels and share with people all of the amazing projects that I work on as a Mechanical Engineering student. We will leave for Canada at the beginning of June for a month for our races up north. I will be sure to keep you updated on our adventure!

Prescott Jet Dragster Team joining us in Tucson, AZ

ERAU Prescott Jet Dragster Team joining us in Tucson, AZ

Team Whataburger run in Texas

Team Whataburger run in Texas

Touring the Simpson Factory in San Antonio

Touring the Simpson Factory in San Antonio

Embry-Riddle Jet Dragster

Embry-Riddle Jet Dragster

I will also be posting jet dragster fast facts videos throughout the summer so you will have the opportunity to expand your jet dragster knowledge. Check out the first few below:

 Fast Facts – Chassis Fabrication
https://vimeo.com/93392661
Fast Facts - Chassis Fabrication

Jet Shop Update – Post Race Inspections
https://vimeo.com/95152906
Post-Race Inspections

Jet Shop Update – Repairing Turbine Nozzle
https://vimeo.com/95159751
Repairing Turbine Nozzle

Jet Shop Update – Removing Lower Turbine Case
https://vimeo.com/95161053

Removing Lower Turbine Case

I arrived in Rockingham, North Carolina this afternoon for our next IHRA Nitro Jam! I will be spending my 21st birthday at the racetrack doing what I love and I couldn’t be more excited! Lookout for some awesome jet racing pictures!

Life Update…Prepare Yourself!

I admit, it’s been way too long since I’ve last updated you guys! So prepare yourself, because not even I expected this much to happen to me since August. Let’s just say that I have been extremely blessed. I am so grateful for all of the amazing opportunities that I have been given. It’s such a great feeling to reflect on all of the goals that I have set for myself since the start of my college career and to see them come to life. Don’t get me wrong, my junior year of college has also been the toughest for me. I’ve definitely had my fair share of struggles, but have managed to get through them shiny side up with the support of my family, hard work, and my strong faith in God.

Sigma Sigma SigmaSo here is a quick summary of everything that you’ve missed. Last semester I unexpectedly took on the role of president of my sorority in order to fill the position of a sister who took an internship. It also happened to be the same semester that I was taking my toughest classes. I somehow managed to pull through while still maintaining a 3.9 GPA. It was a very stressful time, but I learned so much being the leader of my sorority and wouldn’t change it for anything. My best advice to get through times like these: don’t be afraid to take on a challenge, even if it looks impossible. During times like these, you will surprise yourself at your potential and what you are really capable of accomplishing. I know that this was the case for me. I really learned the meaning of being a leader and also learned how important it is to push aside any prideful thoughts and ask for help when I really needed it.

DISSpeedweeks in February was definitely one of the highlights this year. Because I interned with NASCAR last summer, the department I worked with was awesome enough to get me passes to every race. I made it to as many races as I could, despite all of the assignments and tests that were thrown on me. I went to the Sprint Unlimited and NASCAR Home Tracks promoters hospitality event, the Camping World Truck Series race, Nationwide race, Daytona 500, Battle at the Beach, and saw the K&N East Series race at New Smyrna Speedway. You could say I was in heaven.

NASCAR Fans Pit Road

Boeing Scholarship Recipients

At the end of February, I got to take the trip of a lifetime!! This year I was selected as one of the Boeing scholarship recipients. Boeing invited all of the scholarship recipients from the Prescott and Daytona campuses to come tour the Boeing factory in Seattle, all expenses paid for. This was the first time that Boeing has ever done anything like this, so it was truly and honor to be selected to go on this trip. It was absolutely incredible walking through the factory where Boeing manufactures all of their planes, and then to walk on the flightline where these planes are delivered to the customers. We also were able to walk through a brand new 787 and 777! Can it get any better than that??

One of my goals for this year was to get involved in more engineering projects and focus more on my academic involvement because I already have a lot of experience with the social organizations I am involved in. I am proud to say that I have been initiated into Tau Beta Pi (an engineering honor society), Order of Omega (an honor society for Greek organizations), and I am currently working on a project that involves the design of a jet engine test cell.  Last semester I was involved in Formula SAE as a Special Topics credit. Special Topics is such a great way to get hands-on project experience while also receiving credit hours towards your degree program. I was a part of the engine team and assisted in the selection of new engine and the preliminary design report.

Space Needle

Elaine and I I’m happy to say that I have continued my work at Larsen Motorsports and am officially traveling to every IHRA Nitro Jam race with the team for the 2014 season! How lucky can a girl get?! I have taken on a marketing position with Embry-Riddle in order to market the university in conjunction with Larsen Motorsports. As a result, I get to work every event with the team in the all new Jet Technology Center presented by Embry-Riddle. This is an interactive fan experience at the race track that will take fans through the engineering, human factors, fabrication, and art work behind every jet dragster. Fans will have the opportunity to see future Larsen Motorsports jet dragsters built in front of their own eyes.

Houston RodeoOver Spring Break I went home to Houston for part of the week to catch up with the family. It was definitely a much needed trip and nothing ever beats going back to Texas. Some of the highlights included Whataburger (of course), Houston Rodeo (always a tradition), amazing Mexican food, family time, a new cowboy hat, and home-cooked meals!

 

 

Rodeo with family

Selfie with Roxy Family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ERAU Jet DragsterAt the end of the week, I traveled to Tucson, Arizona for the first race of season with the Larsen Motorsports (LMS) teams! This year the LMS teams doubled in size. The team consists of 4 female jet dragster drivers who come from a variety of backgrounds but all have a passion for racing. Elaine Larsen, co-owner of Larsen Motorsports drivers the Miller Welding jet dragster. Marisha Falk, a double Embry-Riddle alumnae, drives the Embry-Riddle jet dragster. Kat Moller, one of the newest LMS drivers, drives the Matrix Systems jet dragster. And lastly, Dawn Perdue, the 2nd newest driver, drives the Sport Aviation jet dragster. Last weekend I headed back to Texas for the second race of the season in San Antonio! I’ll update you guys later about life on the road with the Larsen Motorsports teams. I have so much to tell you about our first two races and I’ll even include my race recaps.

At the trackLastly, I am excited to announce the launching of my new website!! It was designed by Star Computer Services, a business that my parents own. I guess having your mom design websites for a living has its perks. (: Check it out! I would love your support! www.paigesanchez.com

Be on the lookout for race updates next week!

Kicking off the New School Year

Well, school has officially started and my favorite time of the year has already come to pass: ORIENTATION! I have never been more proud to be an Orientation Ambassador and to attend Embry-Riddle. Orientation has been the most rewarding experience of my college career and I now have a new Owesome O-team family! We kicked off orientation week with a retreat at Camp Ocala, where all of the student leaders ( including Student Government Association, Housing and Resident Life, ERRSA, and Orientation Team) came together for team building activities and some fun. The friendships that were made and unity that was created in these few days helped all of us make it the best orientation yet!

The new team pumped for orientation!

Kayaking with the O!

Fun team building activities!

One of our favorite games to play: Mafia!

Having some fun at Playfair!

Orientation week was filled with all kinds of events, including check-in, convocation, movies, a magician, group sessions, BBQ’s, advisement, a speaker, a hypnotist, pep-rally, info sessions, Playfair, volleyball and soccer games, and so much more! The best part about being on the O-team is our “mullet” philosophy: business in the front and party in the back. As an orientation ambassador it is our responsibility to professionally transition the incoming students and prepare them for classes, while also displaying tons of energy, school spirit, and bringing excitement for student involvement on campus. We’re able to accomplish these tasks in a professional manner while also remembering to have some fun.

SGA and O-team at Playfair

O-team showing off their awesome ERAU swag!

Showing some school spirit at the pep-rally!

Our team is comprised of about 40 members, and it is our job to set the stage for 1200 incoming students during orientation. We are their first impression, their go-to, and their leaders at ERAU. It is such an incredible feeling to know that we were able to make an impact on the lives of all of these students, and get them eager to join organizations, excel academically, and find their place on campus. Reliving orientation for the third time now renews my excitement and drive here at ERAU, and has unveiled a passion I didn’t even knew I had. I love being a leader and inspiring others to do their best, to work hard, and make their dreams attainable. I love interacting with people and learning about all of their different backgrounds. I love having the power to make a difference, even if it’s just one person at a time. I am really looking forward to see what the Class of 2017 is going to bring to Embry-Riddle because they couldn’t have kicked off the new school year any better!

What have I been up to besides orientation? Thanks for asking! :) I’ve recently taken on a new leadership role as president of Sigma Sigma Sigma, which is going to be much more responsibility than my previous role as Vice President, but I couldn’t have asked for a better chapter that will support me and the officer team as we transition this semester. I am also getting involved in Formula SAE this semester, where we will design, build, and test a small Formula-style race car. Not to mention, balance my full-time course load of engineering classes. Should be a busy but fun semester, so keep reading the blog for updates!

Only the Beginning

Last week was officially the last week of my internship. I can’t believe this incredible summer is already coming to an end. It seems like just yesterday I was on a plane to Charlotte heading to the All-Star race. But let me tell you, this summer will definitely go down as one of the most memorable, opportunistic, and eventful summers of my life. I’ve met so many people, had a blast with the interns here in Daytona, and have learned more about NASCAR than I thought was possible. I’m sure it will be difficult for me to go back to school after my amazing summer, but I’ve never been so focused, determined, and excited for what’s to come.

The July races at Daytona International Speedway were definitely one of the highlights this summer. I finally had the opportunity to attend a race as a professional and not as a fan, and that made all the difference for me. It’s my time to decide which side of the fence I will be on: am I destined as a fan in the grandstands, or do I really have what it takes to be in the garages with some of the best in the business. I took advantage of every minute I had at the track by walking through the garages and networking. Like I’ve said before, if there’s one thing you need to be good at in life, it should be networking.

I was curious to see how some of the engineers got their start and what advice they could give me. I am so very grateful that engineers from Stewart-Hass Racing took the time to talk to me, tell me about what they do, give me advice as I finish up my last two years in school, and even keep in contact with me. John Klausmeier, the Race Engineer for Danica Patrick’s crew, has been helping me build my résumé and make it motorsports engineering specific. I also got the chance to talk to Alan Gustafson, Jeff Gordon’s crew chief, who I also met at the All-Star race in Charlotte. Alan is someone who I’ve always looked up to as an engineering student working towards a career in NASCAR. He previously attended Embry-Riddle, which influenced my decision to attend ERAU.

Alba Colon, the program manager at GM, went out of her way to meet up with me for a few minutes. She is truly a pioneer for women in engineering in motorsports, and someone who will be a great mentor for me as I pursue my career. I even got the chance to give my business card to Chad Knaus, Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief. The advice and time that I received from these professionals in this sport was priceless and confirmed my aspirations to be in their shoes someday.

 

A few more highlights from race weekend included a pace car ride, victory lane with Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth, check presentations, and enjoying the race with the interns.

Coke Zero 400 Victory Lane

The last few weeks of my 10-week internship went by the fastest. I was busy working on several projects up until the very last day! The most time consuming project that I was tasked with was the weekly track survey. During the month of July, it was my responsibility to call the 55 weekly promoters and conduct a survey, gaining valuable feedback about sponsorship programs, promoter events, and future business opportunities.  Although I spent most of my days on the phone, this project was the biggest learning experience for me. Not only was I able to learn about the program from my supervisors in the Weekly and Touring department, but from the promoters, who often shared many different views and perspectives.
 
Using the feedback from the promoters, I created a Survey Recap and presented it to my entire department. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so nervous in my life… In the end, my presentation went very well, and my department was impressed with all of the hard work I had put into the recap. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing it felt to receive such high recognition from everyone in my department.
 

The interns with VP Marcus Jadotte

Just about every week, the NASCAR interns had the opportunity to connect with NASCAR executives at a Lunch & Learn. The executives would share with us their role in the company, their perspective as professionals in the sports industry, and ended the lunch with a Q&A session. A few of the featured executives included: NASCAR President Mike Helton, VP of Public Affairs and Multicultural Development Marcus Jadotte, VP of Strategic Development Eric Nyquist, VP of Human Resources Paula Miller, and Human Rights Activist Dr. Richard Lapchick.

The interns with Dr. Richard Lapchick

The NASCAR interns showed Daytona that they knew how to have a good time. We had an unforgettable summer together – whether it was going to the beach, movies, Daytona night life, line dancing, hibachi, New Smyrna Speedway, or a tour at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. There was never a dull moment with the interns. I can easily say that we will all be lifelong friends as we pursue our careers in the sports industry.

New Smyrna Speedway

Checking out weekly racing at New Smyrna Speedway

4th of July in Daytona

Touring ESPN Wide World of Sports

The interns with Pluto!

As I sadly watch this experience come to the end, I now know exactly what I need to do as I build my engineering experience. I plan on getting involved with local race teams or maybe even gaining experience at Spirit of Daytona. I’ve never wanted this more than I do now and I am going to do everything possible to ensure my career in motorsports is a success. My NASCAR internship may be over, but I can assure you that this is only the beginning.

 

Check out the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program Newsletters:

Night of Fire

Racing, racing, and more racing! These last few weeks I’ve been so caught up in the motorsports scene and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The weekend following my trip to Connecticut, I traveled with the Larsen Motorsports team to Georgia for the Night of Fire at Atlanta Dragway. Even though I haven’t been to a whole lot of races with the team, considering I started interning there in January, I’m still going to say that this race was my favorite! After arriving Friday afternoon and setting up, we enjoyed the night with some teambuilding. We ate delicious BBQ, had a blast at Funopolis with go-karts, bumper boats, laser tag, and arcade games, and ended the night with the pool and hot tub.

Setting up at Atlanta Dragway with the jet shop greaser girls.

After a fun night of play, the next day at the track was all work. However, being a part of the team never seems like work to me. I always enjoy being at the track, learning something new, and interacting with the fans.  Because of my internship with NASCAR this summer, I have noticed I am paying even more attention to detail. Now that I have a better understanding of the business side of the motorsports industry, I believe that this has allowed me to understand the technical side a little better, oddly enough. I now have a well-rounded perspective of racing, which will enable me to become a better engineer. I have a greater sense of urgency to learn – and not only learn what, but how and why, as well. I am making every single moment a learning opportunity, even when we are just talking with fans or during some down time.

Theresa Brown, right, and I crewing for Elaine’s Miller team.

Theresa Brown and I crewed Elaine Larsen’s Decade of Thrills jet dragster with crew chief Brian Tocci. Before each pass, we must run through a checklist in order to prep the car and ensure its safety before every run. This includes packing parachutes, filling tires, inspecting all components of the car, and ensuring all materials needed at the starting line are in the truck. When it’s finally our time to race, we push the car out on the starting line, where Theresa cleans the tires with Brake Cleaner and I ensure that all tires have VHT, a liquid epoxy resin applied to the tires before each run to help the car stick to the track.

Brian starts the dragster and takes off in the truck down the drag strip. Theresa then puts Elaine on the starting line while I get some good footage of the action.

Standing in between two, 5000 horsepower jet dragsters is a feeling that I can’t even describe. Watching these dragsters take off up close, and race down the track successfully, brings a feeling of accomplishment and makes every minute worked at the shop completely worth it. Now we get to do it all over again and prep for the second run! Unfortunately, the second pass turned into a smoke and fire show because dew had settled on the drag strip, but it was still just as incredible. And to top it off, the whole team sat along the wall down the track and watched some amazing fireworks!

Theresa, Elaine, and I on the back of a humvee!

The best part of being on the Larsen Motorsports team is that the Larsens truly make us feel like we each have an important role on the team. They appreciate all of us and realize our potential. After the first pass at Atlanta Dragway, the team got to ride in the back of a couple humvees down the drag strip. The crowd was cheering us on as we rode by waving at them, and the recognition we all received felt so incredible.

 

This was definitely one of the best weekends of my summer and it’s all thanks to Chris and Elaine Larsen. I am proud to say that I am one of their interns and always look forward to the opportunities that I have at the jet shop. Keep reading the blog because I still have so much to tell you about race weekend here in Daytona!

For now, here’s a few more photos from the weekend!

 

 

The pit area

Embry-Riddle jet dragster

Miller Decade of Thrills jet dragster

Atlanta Dragway

New England Racing!

Working at the office or in the shop is one thing, but going to the track always puts everything into perspective for me. As an avid NASCAR fan my entire life, I have grown up with a love for racing, following the National Series week in and week out. Little did I know that I was missing a huge part of NASCAR that I knew hardly anything about: NASCAR Home Tracks. Working in the Weekly and Touring Department for the summer has introduced me to a part of NASCAR that I have come to love. I went to a few weekly races at Houston Motorsports Park growing up, but now, I have a whole new appreciation for grassroots racing.
As a Diversity Intern in this
department, I had the opportunity to travel to Connecticut with Lauren Wescoat, the manager of Weekly Racing Operations. We visited three different NASCAR Home Tracks in three days: Thompson Speedway, Stafford Motor Speedway, and Waterford Speedbowl. Part of our job is to travel to our NASCAR Home Tracks and visit with the promoters, competitors, sponsors, and fans. This allows us the opportunity to show support for their race programs, keep current with industry practices, oversee sponsorship fulfillment, and to continuously find ways to improve our program. Not to mention, watch some exciting weekly racing! I was able to watch some incredible drivers well known in the New England area, who compete in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, and who are former national and regional champions.

Thompson Speedway

Lauren Wescoat, manager of Weekly Racing Operations, and I at Stafford Motor Speedway.

I was also fortunate enough to catch the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Waterford Speedbowl. I found it interesting to see how weekly events and touring events compare. I gained valuable insight to how each series is run, and even got to watch tech inspection up close after the touring race. The officials were happy to teach me about the inspection process, and as an engineering student, I definitely soaked it all in. After watching so much racing weekly racing, I can now say watching modifieds is a new favorite of mine.

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Waterford Speedbowl

Autograph Session

One of the best parts about grassroots racing is seeing how passionate these drivers and teams are. All of the tracks we visited were about an hour apart. Most of these drivers race at all three tracks every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. They truly make racing their livelihood, work on extremely tight budgets, and are the foundation of this sport.

Touring the Whelen Engineering Headquarters Facility

 

Aside from racing, a few highlights from the weekend included visiting the Basketball Hall of Fame, eating a lobster roll for the first time, and touring the Whelen Engineering Headquarters facility in Chester, Connecticut. Phil Kurze, VP of Whelen Engineering, shared with us the history of Whelen, current projects they are involved in, and gave us a tour of their entire Whelen Engineering facility.  It was incredible to see how they create their products with such precision, and how passionate the Whelen employees are about what they do. I am so grateful to have had this amazing opportunity and am looking forward to learning more about this side of the business. Regardless of where my education takes me, I know that I can find a local track to get involved at as I pursue my career in motorsports.

Basketball Hall of Fame

This summer has been packed with racing! I saw some incredible weekly racing in Connecticut, traveled to Atlanta Dragway with Larsen Motorsports this last weekend for the Night of Fire, will be going to the Independence Day race at New Smyrna this Wednesday, will be attending the Subway Firecracker 250 on Friday, and the Coke-Zero 400 on Saturday!  So watch out for some exciting race updates this next week! (: I hope you’re pumped because I know I am!!

 

Summer Fun

Well, I’ve already completed the first three weeks of my summer internship and haven’t said a single word about it. I guess I better fill you guys in on everything!

NASCAR Headquarters in Daytona

I am currently interning in Daytona Beach at the NASCAR building right across from Daytona International Speedway. It is nothing short of impressive. I work on the sixth floor as the Weekly and Touring Racing Operations Intern and I must say, the view from here is not shabby at all. As the Weekly and Touring Operations intern, I have the opportunity of working with NASCAR Home Tracks, which is the grassroots of racing. I get to work with the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, the Euro Racecar Series, the Canadian Tire Series, the Toyota Series, the Whelen Southern Modified Series, the Whelen Modified Series, the K&N Pro East Series, and the K&N Pro West Series. As of right now, I have only worked with the Whelen All-American Series, the series where drivers race at the same local tracks weekly, but am hoping I get to learn a little more about the touring series soon.

The view from work

As a lifelong NASCAR fan, my knowledge of NASCAR has only been limited to the top three series: the Camping World Truck Series, the Nationwide Series, and the Sprint Cup Series. I am so glad that I have been given the chance to work with grassroots racing. I knew nothing about these 8 series, and now, this is the perfect time for me to expand my knowledge and become more well-rounded in the sport. It’s only been three weeks and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve learned.

A few projects that I have worked on include: the NASCAR: An American Salute project, the NASCAR Green Tree Planting Program, a Spec Engine project, and Track Recruiting. If you have been watching any NASCAR races the last few weeks, you may have seen commercials for the American Salute platform. From Memorial Day Weekend to Independence Day, NASCAR is uniting to honor our military men and women. NASCAR is partnering with A Million Thanks to reach one million salutes to our military by writing personalized letters and dropping them at boxes that have been sent to tracks nationwide, and by using the hash tag #NASCARSalutes on Instagram and Twitter. I have been reaching out to all of the local weekly tracks across the country, encouraging them to take part in it, and creating a recap of all of the special military events these tracks are hosting.

Writing letters to our military

NASCAR is also partnering with the Arbor Day Foundation to donate 90 trees to five weekly tracks, who will then choose a beneficiary locally to donate these trees to. NASCAR Green’s goal is to “neutralize carbon emissions of all NASCAR national series racing in 2013. I am currently in the process of collecting information from these tracks so that I can help move the program forward.

My supervisor gave me a Spec Engine project to work on because it directly applies to my technical knowledge and will give me an opportunity to learn more about engines. I have organized a list of parts needed to build this spec engine and have created a binder full of this information. I knew nothing about engines, but after looking up each part, organizing, and printing specs, I now have a better understanding of engine components.
Track recruiting has also been a huge part in my internship. NASCAR is always looking to sanction more local tracks; this requires gathering information from the hundreds of tracks across the country, working on packets of info that can be sent to them, and coming up with ways to improve upon the NASCAR program.

My new reading material (:

I guess that would be a short summary of what I’m working on. If I told you every single detail, we may be here for awhile.  What is my favorite part of my internship so far? I absolutely love talking to everyone in my department and constantly learn about what they do, and how all of these series work. One of my supervisors has drag and stock racing experience, so he is familiar with the technical side of the sport: the part of the sport I am dying to learn about. He constantly challenges me and tests my knowledge about stock cars. I guess I didn’t realize how little I really know…This has made me even more determined to continue learning and to make the extra effort. If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be to always read and always make the effort to learn something new. I try to take at least 30 minutes of my day to do some research online or read my new racing magazines. I absolutely love it.
Learning about the business side of NASCAR has definitely been eye-opening for me. I think so much more highly of the sport after gaining this insight the last few weeks. Next week I will be traveling to Connecticut to attend a weekly race, touring race, and take a tour of the Whelen facility. Going to the track will definitely put what I have been doing at the office into perspective and make it all come together. I know working my first drag race with Larsen Motorsports did just that for me. I could go on all day so I better stop now! I have so much more to tell you guys but I’ll make you wait and save it for later. :D

Race Day

Being at the race track has to be one of my favorite feelings in the world. I love the anticipation leading up to the drop of the green flag. I love watching the crews move a million miles a minute prepping the car and making last minute adjustments. I love the passion that all of the people at the track have for what they do. I love seeing all of the hard work come together. I just love racing.

Let’s just say that Saturday spent at the All-Star race was my favorite. Actually, that whole day was pretty amazing. We started off the day taking a tour of NASCAR Media Group. This tour was definitely something you don’t get to see every day. We were able to see where all of the video/sound editing takes place, the sets for NASCAR TV shows, Digital Media offices, the radio studio, and so much more. Here’s a few pics:

NASCAR office in Charlotte, NC

Social Media Analysis

Next, we went next door to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, where we were given a tour by NASCAR Historian Buz McKim. I thought it was really interesting to hear all the cooky stories no one gets to hear about the history of NASCAR. I know that I’m definitely going to have to go back because a few hours in that place was definitely not enough.

Pit Stop challenge

Outside the NASCAR Hall of Fame

After a delicious lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings, we were back at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It started to rain, but I wasn’t going to let that bring my umbrella-less self down. We snapped a quick picture in victory lane. Here are the 2013 NASCAR Diversity Interns:

2013 NASCAR Diversity Interns

Guess where we headed next? The Drivers Meeting! Yupp, that’s right. Definitely one of my favorite parts of this whole experience. It’s crazy standing only a few feet away from world famous drivers, crew chiefs, owners, and NASCAR executives. How many people can actually say that they got to attend a drivers meeting before a race? I thought it was interesting to see what takes place here: Rob Pemberton goes up and gives his spiel, and then they play a video explaining the rules. This is also where I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Gordon and his crew chief, Alan Gustafson (an ERAU grad). Even though it was only for a quick minute, it was definitely exciting to finally meet my favorite driver!

Robin Pemberton – VP of Competition

Got to meet Jeff Gordon and Crew Chief Alan Gustafson

Dale Jr.

The Driver Intros for the Sprint Showdown would soon follow, as well as the Sprint Showdown. We watched this race on pit road, anxiously awaiting the All-Star Race Intros. Being at the All-Star Driver Intros was definitely a site to see. We were right in the middle of it, watching the crews roll their cars right by us as they introduced each driver for the race. Then, before we knew it, the race was about to start. We headed to our seats and waited out the rain delay. But in the end, every second of waiting was all worth it. It was nice to see Jimmie Johnson bring home the checkered flag and finally get some rest after an unforgettable weekend.

Pit Road before the race

All-Star Driver Intros

Saturday Night Racing in Charlotte!

This experience has completely opened my eyes to all of the opportunities that this sport has to offer. Believe it or not, NASCAR truly has something for everyone. Going to this race put everything into perspective for me. Throughout the weekend, I constantly made an effort to picture where I would fit in there. I’m still learning more about myself and about what I truly love. It’s so important to dive headfirst into any opportunity you get because that is when you will learn the most about yourself.

Embrace those moments. You may be surprised at your potential.

All-Star Weekend

Just when I think everything is going great, it gets even better! The opportunities seem never-ending and I have more blessings than I can count every single day. Attending All-Star Weekend in Charlotte this past weekend was one of them. This officially kicked of the start of my summer internship with NASCAR. As an intern, my orientation includes a mandatory, all expense paid trip to the All-Star Race weekend in North Carolina! (Tough life, right?) This experience gave me a behind-the-scenes look at the weekly operations that make each NASCAR race possible. I’m sure it’s obvious that it takes a lot of people to ensure a successful NASCAR weekend, but to actually speak with professionals who work in the sport has given me a completely different perspective. As if I didn’t love NASCAR enough already, I’ve definitely walked away from this experience with an even greater appreciation of this extraordinary sport. Now I’ve got to catch you up on this crazy weekend! Where to start…
 
The internship I have secured for the summer is through the NASCAR Diversity program. The purpose of the program is to create more diversity in the NASCAR industry and provide opportunities for minorities in the sport. All of the interns arrived in Charlotte on Thursday. Kristian, the Account Executive for Diversity Affairs in NASCAR, organized this trip for all of the interns. Thursday consisted of a social event where we could all meet each other and have some fun.
 
That evening, we headed to Downtown Charlotte for some bowling and pizza. Let me tell you, Charlotte is absolutely beautiful. I know it’s somewhere I want to live when I get older. It’s the perfect combination of city and country life. All of the interns in this program are pretty incredible, as well. They come from some amazing backgrounds and have already accomplished so much throughout their college careers. This orientation experience bonded us quickly and gave us an opportunity to learn from each other.

Walking through Downtown Charlotte

Intern outing at Strike-City Bowling

Friday was the first long and tiring day. Schedule for the day: breakfast, NASCAR R&D center, guest speakers, lunch, Revolution Racing tour, Roush Fenway Shop tour, dinner, guest speakers, driver intros, and the truck race. Whew! What didn’t we get to do?! A day full of NASCAR was the perfect way to spend my birthday. The NASCAR R&D center was unveiled in 2003; this center is used for safety initiatives, to enhance competition, and to perform weekly inspections. We were able to tour this facility and learn in detail about what takes place on a weekly basis.

NASCAR R&D Center

R&D 2

Throughout our orientation events, we had the opportunity to listen to several previous interns and professionals who work in the industry. They gave us valuable advice to help us make the most of our internship experience, as well as our future careers with NASCAR, or anywhere else for that matter. One piece of advice that I came away from this weekend: NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! Hard work will take you places, but the key to moving up in this industry is all about who you know. It’s really not a bad idea to network anywhere you go. Throughout this internship I will make an extra effort to work with other departments and become familiar with their operations and the people that make them up. Talking to professionals also gave me a glimpse of the inside operations that make the sport go. I never realized all of the positions and jobs involved in the sport; NASCAR truly does think of everything.

Next stop: Revolution Racing. Rev Racing manages NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. This is an outreach program looking to get minorities, including women, involved in racing. I love the efforts of the Drive for Diversity program because as a Hispanic female engineer, it would be great to see changes in the number of women and minorities involved in the sport.

The interns visiting Rev Racing

Before heading to the race track, we headed over to the Roush Fenway Shop for a tour. We were able to check out some of the cars that will be used at the Charlotte race this weekend, as well as where the cars are maintained.

Roush-Fenway Shop

All of the interns made my birthday extra special. It was my first birthday away from my family but it was definitely an unforgettable day. They all signed a cute Cinderella card for me and I even got a birthday sundae at dinner! Yum!

Such an incredible birthday

Now off to Charlotte Motor Speedway!

Livin’ it up at the racetrack!

As soon as we arrived at the race track, we were put right in the middle of the excitement. Crews were pushing their trucks on to pit road and camera men were running around trying to catch all of the action. At this moment, I stood in awe of what happening around me and did my best to soak in as much as I could. Here are a few pics of what I saw:

Truck Series Garage

Pit Road

Driver intros came next! We were directly in front of the stage on the race track. Pretty exciting stuff, I must say.

Driver Intros

Met driver Ty Dillon

The interns with Drive for Diversity driver, Darrell Wallace Jr.

And then the race started! We got to watch the race from pit road, where we were up close to the crews and watched them make all their pit stops. It’s one thing to watch it on TV, but to see it up close in person is a whole other experience in itself.

Just when you think it’s over, it’s not. It gets better. Next stop: VICTORY LANE! After the race, we were able to watch Kyle Busch climb out of his truck in victory lane. Couldn’t think of a better way to end the night.

Victory Lane

Can you believe that all of this happened in one day? I’ve seen a completely different side of NASCAR all within 24 hours. This experience was completely life changing and I’ve only shared with you up to Day 2. Stay tuned for the Day 3 – the All-Star Race update. I have seen so much more and can’t wait to share it with you so that you can get excited too! This could be you one day: maybe not working with NASCAR, but getting a taste of your dream. This is only the beginning of an amazing summer. I’m officially livin’ the dream.