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!

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:

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.

The Start of Something Amazing

“Too busy to be sad, too positive to be doubtful, too optimistic to be fearful, and too determined to be defeated.”
 
These words were on a picture hanging outside the front office of Thompson Intermediate, the middle school I attended in Houston, Texas. I am now going to be a junior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and I’m still repeating these words daily. These words are ingrained in my head, have come to life in my actions, and perfectly describe my drive and determination ever since I was a little girl. I’ve never been your ordinary kid/student/teenager. I think anyone who knows me can tell you that.  I’ve always had an insatiable passion for motorsports and racing. You can thank my dad for that. He got me started at a young age. Jeff Gordon was always my hero growing up and I’d watch the races religiously every weekend with my parents.
 

I started at an early age. I’m on the left and my sister is on the right.

Then that one a-ha moment hit me. You know that feeling, where everything is right in the world and you know exactly what you’re supposed to be doing for the rest of your life? Something just clicks inside of you and you know that one thing that you can’t live without? Well, I had that moment when I was only 9 years old. I knew that being a part of the racing industry was where I was supposed to be. From then on I had set my goals high and have never looked back.

I knew that my dream job would be an engineer working for Hendrick Motorsports, one of the most prestigious teams in NASCAR. As a 5th grader I wrote a letter to Mr. Hendrick, telling him that he would be my boss in about 15 years. Every decision I’ve made since then has been reflective of these dreams. I would usually study a little harder, stay up a little later, and would write those extra words on my essay. I’ve always gone above and beyond, wondering if I would someday have anything to show for it.

My first time at Daytona International Speedway and first time at a track on theNASCAR circuit. Such an incredible feeling setting foot on the track I dreamedof being at as a little girl.

It’s crazy where your dreams can take you. It’s even crazier where hard work, persistence, and determination can take you.I’ve just completed my second year of college and I’m already living my dreams. I may not be at Hendrick Motorsports yet, but I am well on my way. I feel like the most blessed girl in the world right now and have so many people who have helped me get this far. I’ll get to that later though. That’s another story in itself. But the one thing that makes me unique, is that I’m not only doing this for myself. I’m not the only one I’m focusing on here. I’m not working towards a role as a woman in motorsports for my personal gain. I know you’re probably thinking, what could I possibly be talking about?I am here to inspire children, students, and women to chase their dreams. I know countless people who are unhappy with their jobs because it’s not truly what they want to be doing. They never went after what they love. It may have seemed too impossible or out of reach. But let me tell you:
 
“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.”
 
You can’t be afraid to venture into the unordinary, to get a little uncomfortable, to feel a little pain. And this is what it comes down to. You can’t throw in the towel as soon as you start to hurt or experience your first failure. If I had done this, do you know where I would be right now? I’d probably be back home with my parents, playing my NASCAR video games, and pretending to be the mechanic on the TV screen. I was not meant to be at home on the couch. And you’re not either!I truly feel that this blog is the start of something amazing for me, and for all my followers. I am absolutely ecstatic to share my experiences with you about my previous internship at Larsen Motorsports, my experiences at Embry-Riddle, as well as my summer internship with NASCAR. I can only hope that I inspire you all to go after what you love.I know I sure did and I don’t regret a single step of my journey.

Nothin’ but AVgas & Sunoco Green E15.

POSITION: Daytona Beach, FL

Whew! What a week it’s been! It’s been pretty stormy on campus lately. I’m hoping this weather will clear up soon. So far, school’s going great. I’m only wondering- WHERE is the time going? It’s flying by my seat like the NASCAR drivers were today at the Daytona 500! The USAF Thunderbirds were in town for the race, but unfortunately could not perform today.. so the flying part wasn’t as realistic.

POSITION: Embry-Riddle Flight Line

Lots of blimps have been invading our Class C airspace recently because of the race. As cool as they are, I’m happy I don’t have to watch out for the traffic on takeoff anymore. ;)

Toyota Camry relaxing on campus.

For the many reasons, this is one in which explains why I love my school. While we aren’t going fast in the sky (ha ha) we’re into speed on the ground!

Photo from today at the Daytona 500 here in Daytona Beach.

Here’s a quick snap from today’s race! I was rooting for Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt! Such an awesome race- full of intensity and a few mishaps. Needless to say there was never a dull moment! These fields are bred for risk takers. Totally inspiring.

RNAV Circling Approach RWY 25R

My friend, Dane, took this as I was on a circling RNAV approach to RWY 25R. This is what is awesome about having observers. You get to re-live your hallmark moments when you can’t seem to get a free hand to grab a camera. I think this photo sums up my Instrument training.. a concept that is, at first, hard to grasp because everything is vision beyond sight, but once you get it- it’s the coolest thing you’ll ever want to do with a partial view. I am currently finishing up my Instrument Rating and will soon be onto my Commercial Pilot’s License. So far, NOTHING beats shooting an ILS to minimums and breaking out of the clouds to grease a landing. That’s what fuels me.

You could say my life has been pure speed these past few weeks. When you love where you are, what you do and who you are doing it with- the time seems to fly faster than you can catch it. To be honest… I don’t see it slowing down any time soon. After all, what’s wrong with a little RPM in life? See you at the track.

Update: I am now a sponsored pilot; sponsored by SCHEYDEN Precision Eyewear! I am so excited to start this new journey!

Keep squawking the blog!

Blue Skies (and black oil tracks)

February 13, 2011

February already? Hard to believe that in less than one month, I’ll be heading home for Spring Break! I know I know…why go home when you are in spring break central, right? To be honest, the beach is not exactly my favorite thing. Plus I love San Francisco! The first exams of the semester are coming up this week. Math, physics, and two papers due on Friday. Goodness…sometimes I wish I wasn’t in the honors program (for the essays). Turns out I also have to take Calculus 3 honors next semester too! I suppose it will all pay off in the end (hopefully).

Last weekend, a few friends and I went to the Angell and Phelps Chocolate Factory down the road, right by the beach. They have some of the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted! After Ghirardelli, of course. They offer free tours 6 days a week of their facilities. It was quite interesting, but the best part of it all was the free samples at the end. If any of you ever go there, try out the chocolate covered potato chips. Sounds disgusting, but it is just amazing! I promise. That same day, ERAU hosted a Leadership conference for its students. It was hosted in the Instructional Center (where our auditorium is), and was filled with many workshops designed to help students reach their leadership potential. I couldn’t go, but my friends who did said it was very worthwhile (minus having to wake up at 8 in the morning).

Sunday was just my homework day, as was the rest of the week. I finished all the activities on my drafting workbook, much to my surprise. I think I have found a new love for drafting. It’s so much fun! We also started on the program CATIA, which allows us to make 3D representations of objects/concepts. For our class, we have another textbook which contains a series of tutorials for the program. I wonder how long until I finish that…

Speaking of CATIA, I decided to purchase a student license of the program to avoid having to go to the computer labs late at night to do homework. Because the program only runs on PCs (I have a Mac), I had to buy a new laptop. Yesterday (Saturday), I went to Best Buy to pick it up. The place is right down the road on International Speedway Blvd, just a few miles down. Emphasis on the SPEEDWAY—Yesterday also marked day one of speed weeks, with the Budweiser Shootout at the Race Track. I can officially say Daytona has been invaded by NASCARNation! I have never seen so many people gather around that road since I’ve been here. There’s never any traffic and suddenly, BOOM ! It took me a good 20 minutes to get to Best Buy! Oh, and did I mention parking around the area was well over the $40 mark? Thank goodness the shops offer shopper passes (good for two hours)…because goodness that is too much! I can’t possibly imagine how crowded it will be for the Daytona 500…at least Campus Safety does a very good job at keeping danger at bay! Still, better be safe than sorry—so you won’t see me out and about at night-time. What was really surprising, however, is that you can’t hear these races from campus, like for the Rolex24, which kept me up all night. Let’s just hope this keeps up for the rest of the month…

Just one final outlook on what’s coming these next few weeks until I update you again: another trip courtesy of the Women’s Center (hint: Discovery), and parent weekend!

Until next time, Adri.

October 14, 2008

In my first blog, I told the new freshman to get out of the dorms and visit Central Florida. For those of you that will come down for a visit, it is important to not only have a tour of campus, but also to visit what Central Florida has to offer. While some will say there is absolutely nothing to do in Daytona Beach, it is just because they have done it already and eventually the sound of racecars, motorcycles and spring breakers does become redundant. I am from Port Orange, about 10 minutes outside of Daytona Beach so I can understand. However, I like to visit a few of the lesser known and well-known attractions. But first, the traditional Daytona attractions.

    1. DAYTONA’S NASCAR Raceway: Car racing is what made Daytona Beach famous. After shifting from to the World’s Most Famous Beach to the raceway in 1959, Daytona has managed to remain the epicenter of automobile racing. However, unless you come down during a scheduled race, it will be difficult to truly get the racing experience that so many Riddle students get throughout the year. Luckily, Daytona USA can fill that NASCAR desire year round. In the compound connected to the raceway, you can learn to change tires like the pit crews, simulate driving in a race and try to walk up the racetrack’s 31 degree embankment. When I went, I couldn’t change the tire, finished last in my race and managed to fall up the raceway, quickly learning the word road rash. But, it sure beat sitting in the Grandstands in 100 degree weather next to Bubba and Billy who have not showered since Jeff Gordon was last liked in Daytona (hint: never).
    2. Driving on Daytona Beach: To continue your racing adventure, do like past racers and take advantage of an activity unique to Daytona’s coast. Though you will have to drive a sluggish 10 mph, it sure beats lugging around your beach necessities. I love lazy beach days, especially those where I literally drive to my spot, open my trunk and worship the sun for the next few hours. You just can’t get a lazier beach day.
    3. The Museum of Arts and Sciences: Hidden on Nova road, about three minutes from campus, is a little bit of refinement in Daytona at the Museum of Arts and Sciences. The museum houses many permanent cultural exhibits which include African, Cuban and Chinese art. It also has a section devoted to everything Americana and Coca-Cola and an upcoming Barbie exhibit. Take a walk in the 2.5 acre sculpture garden or stroll through the Florida History exhibit. Enjoy the 13-foot tall giant ground sloth fossil or sit back in the planetarium for a presentation of the stars set to the Beatles. It is $10.95 for Riddle students, but it is a small price to pay to beat the heat.
    4. Ocean Walk: Whether you want to see the latest movie, eat at Bubba Gump’s or see a concert at the Bandshell, Ocean Walk is all-inclusive. One of the most popular hot spots, it is located about 10 minutes from campus. Park in the parking garage across the street and take the walk-over to a dining and viewing treat.
    5. Ponce DeLeon Inlet Lighthouse: This is my favorite activity in Volusia County. Drive about 20 minutes down A1A from Ocean Walk to where you can drive no more. It costs $5 to check out the 121-year-old lighthouse, but it is worth the 175-foot climb. After getting your exercise, head over to the Lighthouse Landing Restaurant and Raw Bar for some shark or gator and a walk on the dock to check out the fisherman’s latest catch.

If you have time to leave Daytona, head down to Orlando for these next attractions:

    1. Orlando Theme Parks: Deemed the “Happiest Place on Earth”, Disney seems to be the main attraction for every holiday to Florida. By the looks of post-Disney travelers in the Orlando airport, it also seems to be the happiest most exhausting adventure. Every parent, weighed down with Mickey souvenirs, has bags under their eyes while they are trying to reign in their Mouse-eared children. While my first trip to Disney World wasn’t after I won the Super Bowl, I was equally excited to be those little kids again. I bought a princess crown, gathered autographs from the characters and snuggled with Goofy at Breakfast with the Characters. But, there are so many more places to visit. My personal favorite is “Eating/Drinking around the World” at Epcot. Get a group of friends together and bounce between each represented country, stopping to enjoy the native food or beverage of choice, served by a native of the represented country. Brush up on your linguistic skills and walk through the eleven cultural pavilions, which include Japan, Norway and Mexico. So, whether you eat couscous in Morocco, drink tea in England or slurp up spaghetti in Italy, be sure to come thirsty or “Hungary.” After you fill you bellies, take a roller coaster ride in Universal, learn to growl at Animal Kingdom or get crowned at Disney World. You wouldn’t want to be the only person in the Orlando airport without Mickey Mouse ears, would you?
    2. City Walk: Once you enter big person land again, head to Universal City Walk for some grown up transitions. The area has everything from an IMAX theater to watch the latest Batman movie to dancing to reggae at the tribute to Bob Marley. If you don’t yet feel like growing up, you can play in paint alongside the Blue Man group or play alongside kids in the in-ground fountains.
    3. Cirque Du Soleil: Though tickets start at $52, the updated circus entertainment is well worth the price. No matter what seats you get, it is a front row, high-flying adventure of the five senses. Watch tight rope walkers skip along thin pieces of metal or ten-year-old Chinese acrobats do back flips off each other while keeping their Yo-Yos spinning. After the show, hop over next door to House of Blues to catch bands like All-American Rejects, Panic! At the Disco, MayDay Parade, and Rise Against. There are few seats, but there is no bad view of the stage.
    4. Mall at Millenia: Yes, I am a girl and I like to shop, especially at the Mall at Millenia. I claim it to be the “Second Happiest Place on Earth” (just following the Mall at America). Located at Exit78 just off of I-4, the Mall at Millenia is uniquely, yet easily, set up. When you walk into the mall, to the right is the affordable stores like Abercrombie and Express. To the left are the stores that have security guards on detail, like Gucci and Louis Vuitton. In the middle is a large food court with Cheesecake Factory and the Blue Martini. So, whether you want to actually buy something at Forever 21, Hollister or Zara or just dream in Burberry, Tiffany’s or Jimmy Choo, go for the shopping or go for the drooling. It sure beats the Daytona Mall.
    5. Mystery Theater: I love CSI: Vegas and Miami and always find myself guessing the killer well before Gil Grissom or Horatio Caine utter their accusations. If you are like me, Murder Watch Mystery Dinner Theater offers plays to get you involved first hand into the murder solving. They offer many different show topics and always include audience participation.

Finally, if Orlando is too touristy, take about an hour drive from Daytona to the next three places:

    1. St. Augustine: About an hour and half outside of Daytona, along A1A, is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city, St. Augustine. Located on a port and protected by the Fort Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine is now a historical and shopping hub. It is also home to Riddle’s greatest rival, Flagler College. In spite of the university, St. Augustine is beautiful whether you want to walk the cobble stone streets in search of shopping or spirits. I strongly suggest a visit to the fort, taking a ghost tour of the town or eating at my favorite restaurant, Columbia, for their plantains. Don’t forget your cameras either. You never know what might appear in the photographs later.
    2. Air Force Space & Missile Museum: Ok, so we go to an aviation school so what better place to visit than Cape Canaveral, home to many shuttle launches. The museum, located in nearby Kennedy Space Center, houses numerous historical space devices such as the one used to launch Alan Shepard and Virgil “Gus” Grissom into space. Take a drive around their Rocket Garden, home to the largest collection of rockets, missiles and other space related hardware. The Mercury Redstone and Jupiter C rockets are in permanent display and one of only two complete German V-2 engines lies in the Exhibit Hall. Go to see where aviation has been and where it is headed.
    3. Blue Springs: What is more Floridian than swimming with manatees? Ok, maybe hurricanes, flamingos and octogenarians are a bit more Floridian, but Blue Springs is non-destructive. The name alone tries to do the clear, blue water justice, but experiencing the 72 degree water is the only way to fully appreciate it. Go during a hot summer day to cool off or on a Florida-winter day to scuba dive. Whenever you come, the water temperature does not change.

If you have done it all during your trip or just want to plan some more trips for your next visit, here are some additional websites for other activities.

http://www.touristflorida.com/other.html – a good website for some more attractions.

http://www.daytonabeach.com/whattosee.cfm – can find special events for when you are here or just more ideas

Just remember, there are lots of things to do in Daytona Beach or the surrounding areas. You just have to know how to find them. And now you do.