WELCOME, N.C. (WGHP) — NASCAR is coming to Martinsville Speedway for the penultimate race weekend. It’s a chance for drivers in the sport’s top two series to lock into the Championship 4 race.
For some college students at Winston-Salem State University, this racing weekend marks a first chance to get an up-close look at a possible career opportunity by immersing themselves in every aspect of how the racing industry works.
The Motorsports Management students spent a day getting acquainted with the business of racing at Richard Childress Racing.
They could certainly be future faces of the sport but not necessarily the ones you’ll see driving race cars or changing tires.
They’ll be doing the other 90 percent of the work it takes to run a successful race team and get to the track on the weekends.
RCR visit a “no-brainer”
That’s what this visit teaches students who have an interest in racing, and that’s why this visit to Richard Childress racing is so important.
“Since I’ve been younger, I’ve just always loved cars and racing, and I didn’t know that any college out here offered a program like this right here. So when I first heard about it, it was just a no-brainer,” WSSU senior Taylor Boags said.
“I had been exposed to … movies, and I always thought it was really thrilling and exciting. And I never really thought that it was something that I could pursue … I started like really digging into the community, and I saw that there were a lot of opportunities around in the area,” said Juana Ramirez Manriquez, a sophomore.
Getting these students into a room with key players in the industry, like Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Austin Hill and some RCR Executives, gives them a tremendous jumpstart on their potential careers.
It’s an important lesson in networking that Associate Professor of Motorsports Management Clay Harshaw drills into them often.
“It’s not what you know, and it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you. And this gives them an opportunity to start building that network so that they get to know people, and those folks that are already in the industry are able to get to know them,” Harshaw said.
And the students really seem to get it.
“Just get your foot in the door … It’s about who you know. I’m just looking to network first and then … start working my way up the ladder then going to see where it goes from there,” Boags said.
NASCAR, students hope to see fruits of visit
It’s a win-win for the students and the motorsports industry.
“They just take away the experience of getting to know racing in general … and getting to know NASCAR and what all it takes to … make that race car that’s on the racetrack get to the racetrack,” said Austin Hill, driver of the 21 car in the Xfinity series.
Cambell says students like these are the future of the sport.
“We need younger generations to come in and love our sport the way I have, the way a lot of people in this room love it. And to see them have an interest in motorsports and particular NASCAR, that’s great for us. It’s good for the sustainability of our business,” Campbell said.