Students to Compete in NASCAR Program

Author: Arts and Letters

Four undergraduate students at the University of Notre Dame have been selected to compete as a team in NASCAR Kinetics, a program that immerses students into the business world of NASCAR to improve their marketing skills.

As part of the competition, NASCAR executives will participate in a panel discussion Thursday (Oct. 15) at 6p.m. in the auditorium of Notre Dame’s Eck Visitors’ Center.

The panel discussion is open to the public with topics generated by audience members. Panelists will represent the marketing, diversity/public affairs, human resources and series operations divisions at NASCAR and will be available to answer general questions about NASCAR and discuss their responsibilities within the organization.

“What I find interesting about NASCAR is that the only thing they own is their name, yet they are able to attract so many sponsors promoting a thriving business, all sports put aside,” said Enrique Gonzalez, a junior marketing major and captain of the team. “The rate of NASCAR’s popularity amongst the general sporting world is something that is very impressive.”

In addition to Gonzalez, students on the NASCAR team include Caitlin Hefele, a sophomore majoring in marketing and journalism; Nathan Durkes, a senior business and theology double major at Holy Cross College; and John Crowder, a senior economics and computer applications major.

Schools selected for the NASCAR Kinetics: Marketing in Motion program in addition to Notre Dame include Winston Salem State University, Howard University, Central Michigan University, Clark Atlanta University and Coastal Carolina University.

The purpose of the competition is to give students a hands-on marketing experience in the motorsports industry. The teams compete in four case studies that started in September and continue through November, presenting them via phone conference to NASCAR representatives. The top three teams will travel to Miami to present their final case study to a panel of NASCAR judges. The grand prize winner will be selected based on case study performance throughout the semester, phone presentation, onsite presentation and creativity.

“I chose to be part of the Notre Dame team because I am incredibly interested in sports marketing and the program is a great networking opportunity for future careers,” Hefele said. “I have learned a lot about how to organize and plan presentations and write-ups through these case studies, as well as how to utilize in-class concepts to apply to real-world issues. I find it really exciting that NASCAR is actually using our ideas to do further promotions.”

The winning team will receive an expense-paid, three-day trip to Miami for the Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Students will have the opportunity to ask questions of the NASCAR executives and the organization’s partner professionals and experience behind-the-scenes activities of the NASCAR event.

“The business side of NASCAR has always fascinated me,” Durkes said. “The way the series and its teams manage to market, promote and sell is unprecedented.”

Originally published by Carol Elliott at on October 14, 2009.