By: Harold Velasquez
Intern, NASCAR Diversity Program
The weekend of July 10th, I had such a phenomenal experience at Atlanta Motor Speedway. 2 days’ worth of roaring engines, fast lanes, mechanical noises, pit crews, and rumbling grounds all for me to see.
The NASCAR interns, including myself, were granted access to the garages and pit road. Collaborating with CSM Production, I was able to see the inner workings of event production for experiential activations, concerts, and opening ceremonies. Jerry “Bear” Nerad gave me a tour around the CSM Production compound at the track. I saw the assets they bring for the opening ceremonies such as trucks, stages, audio equipment, golf carts, generators, and a ton of back up equipment ensuring a smooth production. He explained the communications going on between the track, his team, NASCAR, and all of the people involved during that opening ceremony to kick off the race. It was cool to hear about what was going to happen minute by minute before the event starts.
For the weekend, the team produced multiple projects for the two races in Atlanta, from a display for NASCAR with iRacing simulators, concerts, national anthems, driver introductions, pyrotechnics, and fly overs. It was amazing to see stage set-up and stage break-down that took place in less than 8 minutes! Meeting the artists who performed and seeing the fans enjoy the concerts were both such cool experiences, too. After Bear toured me around, I was able to get hands-on. I was all over the stage, the grid, and the track taking photos and videos to capture the event. I think it’s such an amazing opportunity to have a medium that tells a story even though it has no words. Switching up themes and sponsors for each of the races was very interesting to see. On Saturday, the signage, stages, branding were all Credit Karma and the next day it was Quaker State and Walmart.
To top it all off, I was able to meet the rest of the NASCAR interns, who were so nice. We were given tours of the garages and introduced us to NASCAR peers and friends, which was an awesome way to network. I also got to meet and take pictures with some of the Cup Series drivers like Christopher Bell, Bubba Wallace, and Kyle Larson. The rest of the day was just as amazing, staying on pit road, having dinner with newfound friends, and driving back home to Charlotte with the haulers.
Looking back these past few months, I have come to learn and grow so much. This experience has given me tremendous knowledge of the Sports & Entertainment and Event Management industries – a field that used to be so unfamiliar to me. Taking on projects, helping all around the production departments, participating in brainstorm sessions, contributing my ideas, getting involved in experiential activations and logo design, building capabilities decks, request for proposals, and business development proposals all have helped me sharpen my skills in public speaking, communication, critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity. My biggest takeaway is the direction this experience has given me on where I want to take my career in the future and to continue putting myself out there moving forward. Coming out of this has given me a great sense of confidence in my skills and abilities that will pave the way for a brighter future and memories never to forget!