November 10 2006
Their presence must have been a stroke of luck for Team Chevy because for the first time in Texas they swept the series, which included the Craftsman Truck Series Silverado 350k, the O'Reilly Challenge 300 and the Dickies 500.
"It was all pretty overwhelming," said Jon Caughlan, a senior automotive technology management major and president of ISU's student chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). "We got there and were granted so much access to everything. The Chevy people just grabbed a hold of us, and we jumped right in."
Caughlan and fellow students Kelly Waite (Hobart), Kyle Neisen (Evansville) and Neysa Peters (Rockville) worked alongside the Team Chevy marketing staff to get hands-on experience during the production of a NASCAR race weekend and to shadow the professionals who take care of business at the track day in and day out.
Their first day in Texas, the students received a surprise visit from Texas Motor Speedway President and General Manager Eddie Gossage, who spoke with them at length about ISU?s motorsports management program, education in general and their future careers.
Throughout the weekend, as temporary Team Chevy employees, the students took part in a variety of marketing activities at the speedway. They had the opportunity to shoot T-shirts out of a cannon to the nearly 70,000 race fans, while showing off the new 2007 Silverado trucks. They participated in driver introductions and drove professional drivers around the track before race time, toured the pits and suites, distributed promotional items to fans and even spent some time in the winner's circle. The team also participated in driver appearances scheduled at the Chevrolet hospitality area, and worked with Team Chevy NASCAR drivers such as Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Burton and Martin Truex, Jr.
And, the days were far from short.
"We had to be at the track by 7 a.m. and had to work straight through until 4:30 or 5 p.m., until all the jobs were done," said Caughlan, who also is a member of the new student organization, Team Sycamore Racing at ISU. "We were right in the thick of it, and we learned a lot."
"It was amazing, and more than we could have ever expected," said Neysa Peters, a junior transfer from Vincennes University. "The whole experience was so great! I'm amazed at how well their Chevrolet team works together and how well they incorporated us into the weekend. As soon as we got there, we were welcomed and brought up to speed on what was going on and what we were going to do to help."
On the final day, students were asked to select one person from Chevrolet marketing staff to shadow on a more in-depth basis, as a way of getting a better feel for what a future career in that area would entail.
"The person I worked with took me everywhere she went, from the hospitality tents, to the suite, to right back on the track for driver introductions," said Neysa Peters, a member of Team Sycamore Racing and secretary of the ISU chapter of SAE.
"This type of opportunity is exactly what students need to see what they're going to do with rest of their lives," said Randy Peters, an ISU assistant professor of automotive technology management and the College of Technology's program coordinator for the motorsports management minor. Peters worked alongside the students every stretch of the way as a faculty intern at the track.
"Through this experience, they're able to see so many people perform so many different jobs, from event planning to crisis management," he said. "It's definitely a tool to get them excited about their futures, and also one to prepare them for the kinds of skills they will need after ISU."
As a senior, Caughlan, a first-generation college student, won't get to completely experience the new motorsports management minor prior to graduating, but he's already beginning to see the value in his visit to Texas.
"The experience was priceless, especially being there and making so many contacts," he said. "If nothing else, we made great connections with people in the industry, and they've seen us at work and in action. It was way bigger than I thought it ever could be."
So, what does the future have in store for ISU and its motorsports-savvy students?
According to Randy Peters, this experience will hopefully pave the way for many more exciting opportunities and a long and prosperous partnership with General Motors.
"If there's one thing we learned as a result of this trip, it's that what we're doing with the motorsports management minor is right on track with what the industry is looking for."
CUTLINE: Pictured are (from left): Sheila Powell (ISU ?77), Regional Manager - Aftermarket, General Motors South Central Region; Kyle Neisen, founder and president of Team Sycamore Racing at ISU; Kelly Waite, senior marketing major and motorsports management minor; Jon Caughlan, senior and president of the ISU student chapter of Society of Automotive Engineers; Eddie Gossage, Texas Motor Speedway president and general manager; Randy Peters, assistant professor of automotive technology management and a co-coordinator of ISU?s motorsports management program; Neysa Peters, junior motorsports management minor; Vicky Kidd, regional marketing manager for GM's South Central Region; and Eric Motycka, ISU development officer.
CONTACT: Randy Peters, assistant professor of automotive technology management, Indiana State University, (812) 237-4962 or firstname.lastname@example.org
WRITER: Maria Greninger, associate director, Communications & Marketing, Indiana State University, (812) 237-4357 or 237-7972 or email@example.com
Four Indiana State University students hit the ground running at the Texas Motor Speedway as part of an intensive three-day internship experience Nov. 3 - 5 with General Motors and Chevrolet. Students primarily enrolled in the university's new minor in motorsports management participated in the job shadowing activities.