You have been around motorsports your entire life, but why are you passionate about it?
The business of racing runs deep in my blood. That’s the product of growing up trackside at the race track my family owns and operates. I attended my first family reunion at the track just after my first birthday and attended races every year since. There’s a sense of pride that comes with that. It makes me want to continue to work within the industry, contribute to the family legacy and create my own identity. That’s what led me to trade in my grandstand tickets for an employee badge and begin my internship. The flame sparked, and it hasn’t dimmed since.
What did you learn from growing up with a family involved in the sport?
At a young age, I learned to look through a unique lens. I’d be in the board room for discussions with existing partners and new brands looking to enter the motorsports landscape. I wanted to be part of the discussion, not just in the room. So, I expanded my tool box, so-to-speak, to come to the table with relevant and informative data. I’d attend other sporting events and concerts to view how other facilities operated- signage, display spaces, fan clubs, concessions, parking, security, etc.
Overall, I organically picked up skill sets through the business practices that I was being exposed to at Pocono. I wasn’t given a check list of tasks; Rather, I was learning from hands-on experience and given confidence to tackle projects.
Why was it important to you to branch out from the family business?
Beginning to work at a young age jump-started my career. It allowed me to explore opportunities at unique stages. I relocated to North Carolina to attend college at Elon University. Elon was close in proximity to several areas that interested me. In one direction, I was about 2 hours from the hub of NASCAR in Mooresville/Charlotte. Elon was also close to Pocono’s sister-track South Boston Speedway, South Boston, Virginia. I worked at South Boston (SoBo) on race weekends and that allowed me to expand my resume and skill sets with relevant experience. Relevant experience and diversity were important to me. I felt it was valuable to understand multiple facets of the industry. Pocono and the track-side were just one facet. I wanted exposure to the series/sanctioning body, history that I witnessed through working for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, operational aspects through working for South Boston Speedway, and media relationships through shadowing MRN Radio. Each industry segment contributes a piece to the overall puzzle- and I set out to see what it would take to create the whole puzzle.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
As a Manager of the Partner Strategy team I maintain relationships with 14 partners of the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Verizon is my primary account. Each account is unique within their given industry segment. Their products/services, goals, and marketing efforts are also unique and differ from one another. My accounts range from the Official Chassis Supplier (Dallara) to the Official Soft Drink (Coca-Cola). My role includes traveling the Verizon IndyCar Series circuit, along with participation in the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While traveling the Verizon IndyCar Series circuit, a reoccurring activity that I manage is the Verizon P1 Award Ceremony. The Verizon P1 Award recognizes the driver that finishes in the first position in Qualifying. There’s an award ceremony that follows Qualifying. I really enjoy that part of my job because it ties in partner assets with competition and teams. It allows for additional exposure to race weekend activities on an operational level in an action-packed environment on Pit Lane. There’s work behind the scenes that takes place in the off-season to design and order trophies, flags, medallion decals, and team hats. All elements are included in the ceremony for each event weekend.
Day-to-day responsibilities include managing partner assets at each venue. Assets range based on the partner and could include signage, digital assets, PA reads, reserved seating, suite tickets, parade car rides, two-seater rides, and honorary roles.
There is just as much work to be accomplished in the off-season. The off-season allows for the series and partners to realign on initiatives that support their business objectives. We meet with partners to learn about their new marketing initiatives and messaging for the following year, present the series’ marketing plans, and plan out the next season. Planning includes identifying key markets for partner activation and promotion. It also includes reviewing internal procedures and activities (like the P1 Award) that take place each event weekend during the season. Additionally, we utilize the off-season to work with tracks to construct deals for the following season that encompasses the desired assets on behalf of the partner.
What is your greatest achievement?
Honestly, all achievements up to this point have been a combination of choices paired with hard work. Each choice I’ve made from my first internship at 15, attending Elon, working at South Boston Speedway, and moving to France and back have led me to where I am today. Some of my greatest achievements are still in front of me and I keep striving for more.
What are your goals within, and outside of, motorsports?
Within motorsports, my goal is to continue exceling in my current role. This is my 3rdseason with the Verizon IndyCar Series, but there is plenty to learn. The motorsports landscape continues to evolve and that presents opportunities and challenges for continued development and growth.
Outside of motorsports, European travel is a passion of mine. I enjoy researching trips and experiences in Italy and France. After the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series Champion is crowned in Sonoma, I’ll be traveling to Paris and the French Riviera for some R&R. Later in the fall my mom and I are traveling to Rome for Thanksgiving for her first trip to Italy. I’m really looking forward to experiencing that with her and watching her take in the Roman culture. It’ll be my third time in Rome so I’m considering myself her travel guide for this trip.
What advice would you give to a younger woman hoping to become involved in motorsports?
First, develop a relationship with a strong and knowledgeable mentor. They’ll be your sounding board while you navigate through important decisions and transitional periods. Stay focused on your goal and don’t allow others to deter you from succeeding. Put yourself out there and take every opportunity presented to you- no matter how big or small. Job shadow and/or intern in areas that interest you. It’s important to get your foot in the door and explore those opportunities.
I’d also share this speech that Denzel Washington read at a commencement ceremony that a mentor shared to motivate and encourage me:
“I'm sure people have told you to make sure you have something to fall back on. Be sure you have something to fall back on. I never understood that concept of having something to fall back on. If I'm going to fall, I don't want to fall back on anything, except my faith. I want to fall forward. Fall forward. This is what I mean. Reggie Jackson struck out twenty-six hundred times in his career, the most in the history of baseball. You don’t hear about the strikeouts, people remember the homeruns. Fall forward. Thomas Edison conducted one thousand failed experiments, but the one thousand first was the light bulb. Fall forward. Every failed experiment is one step closer to success.”