NASCAR invited students from Morehouse College’s journalism in sports, culture, and social justice program to Atlanta Motor Speedway to take in and report on a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. Read one student’s recap of the experience below.
HAMPTON, Ga. – Drivers! Start! Your! Engines! The flyover just passed over the track, the pit crews are settled and now it’s time for the race to begin.
This was my first NASCAR race and it was a truly mesmerizing experience. Seeing a race on television doesn’t quite compare to the sights and sounds at a racetrack. Being able to see all of the different components that contribute to the final product, the race itself is quite impressive.
To start our Saturday race day, our Morehouse College sports journalism class arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway where we met with our tour guide for the day, Caryn Grant, a Howard University graduate who works with NASCAR as a senior member of the diversity of inclusion team. Our first stop on our tour was “The Compound,” which is where all media gather for production of the race.
It’s the site of behind-the-scenes production of TV broadcasts, two radio broadcasts, all replays, and all of social media for the race day. The amount of equipment and seamless collaboration from the production team was something I had never seen before.
“In this field, commitment beats education,” said Wayne Nelson, broadcast overseer of the NASCAR production team. “Books can’t teach what we do because you see and then do.”
The most exciting part of the day was the stop at the media center. This room was filled with journalists from all over the country who represented an extensive list of different news outlets. To be able to sit in this room during interviews was invigorating. Seeing the journalists write stories, NASCAR drivers being interviewed, and the aura of the media room was quite eye opening.
The next and final stop of our tour was pit road. Here is where the action happens. You see the drivers, the pit crews and teams, and the cars are right in front of you. Nothing compares to the sound of a race car starting up and going around the track.
This trip and experience really helped open my eyes to NASCAR and motorsports. Getting this experience changed my perspective on the sport, and walking the grounds before and during the race showed the diversity surrounding the event.
“We are all working to change the image of the sport,” said Caryn Grant, the senior manager of diversity and inclusion at NASCAR. “The goal ultimately is to increase the amount of exposure to the sport.”
With my perspective being changed, I definitely feel more diverse groups of people should enter the sport both as drivers and behind-the-scenes personnel. I would consider even working with NASCAR in the future, but definitely know now I want to work in sports in some fashion.
Markus Carter contributed to this report.