CONCORD, N.C. -- More than 600 team members work at Hendrick Motorsports, and each of them has a unique role that helps contribute to success on the racetrack.
In this series, HendrickMotorsports.com will take an in-depth look at how team members execute those jobs on a daily basis, detailing their workspaces, routines and more.
This time, director of competition systems Alba Colon shares "How I Work."
Computer: Microsoft Surface Pro
Phone: iPhone 8
Describe your role:
“Our group develops tools that we provide to the race teams to help them do their jobs better and more efficiently. We do a lot of computer simulation, tire modeling to better understand how tires work, data analytics and vehicle rig testing. We are constantly learning and sharing ideas throughout the organization. Many of the tools we work with now didn’t even exist a few years ago. That is probably the most exciting part of the role, being on the forefront of what happens next to help make our cars faster and better”
Apps/gadgets/tools you can’t live without:
“My life revolves around Microsoft Teams, OneDrive and OneNote. Microsoft is one of our key technology partners. Their engineers have helped teach us how our team can use these programs. They are absolutely needed for group meetings, staying connected and maintaining our team support. I also use weather and weather radar apps a lot because it can affect race strategy. When I get a break, sometimes I like to explore the world with the FlightAware app. There are so many neat places to visit!”
One word that best describes how you work:
“Intense, but smart. I am very intense with everything that I do, but I also try to think through everything very carefully. I tend to be very structured. Usually I will develop a plan to solve a problem and try to think about that problem from all angles, but at the same time you have to be agile to adapt to changing situations.”
How you got your start at Hendrick Motorsports:
“My background is mechanical engineering, and I was hired by General Motors to work in the racing group shortly after I graduated from college. At the time data acquisition was relatively new, and we were learning how to capture and use data to improve the car’s performance in multiple racing series like NASCAR, ASA, IMSA and drag racing. Throughout the years, I met a lot of race engineers and also worked directly with Hendrick Motorsports for many years while I was with GM. Fast forward to about two years ago, an opportunity came up to join Hendrick Motorsports. Even though it has only been a short while, I feel like I have been part of Hendrick Motorsports for much longer because as a Chevy team I have worked with our guys and gals on a daily basis at the track, at tests and right here at our shop for many years. Joining Hendrick Motorsports has been a great experience because with the competition systems group we are able to contribute directly to the success of our teams.”
Take us through a recent workday:
“I like to start my day early. Typically, I wake up around 4:30 a.m. I have no idea why 4:30 a.m., but that’s when my internal clock says it is time to get up. As often as I can, I will go to the gym here at work early in the morning. I tend to be one of the first to arrive at the office, so I look forward to saying good morning to everyone as they come in and hearing how everybody is doing. I find that each day of the week is different. Monday mornings I love to be at work early when our race cars are arriving back from the track. For me, I like to see how the cars look and hear the stories from the guys about what happened during the weekend. I spend time with the crews and with my team to better understand what worked and what didn’t work during the weekend. Tuesdays tend to be very busy days. We meet with the crew chiefs, the drivers and team engineers to better understand what happened at the track and to get ready for the next weekend. Wednesdays my team continues working hand in hand with the race teams, but I always find time to go to the floor and see the guys finishing the cars before they load them up on the haulers for the upcoming weekend. Thursdays are a little slower, but there are always last-minute things to do or I will begin planning what we want to accomplish next week. Remember, I’m a planner! Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you will find me along with many other engineers at the shop continuing to support the road crews at the track throughout the weekend. If the garage is open, we will be at the shop. It is a very intense week, but one that I love, and I look forward to it every single week. There are always new challenges and that’s what I love about this job.”
“I have my computer with two screens that I use when I am here at the office, but my computer goes with me everywhere. You can probably find me here at my desk early in the morning or late in the afternoon, but during the day I may be anywhere around campus. With computers and the Microsoft apps, it is possible to communicate and stay connected with your team from anywhere, so it doesn’t matter where your office is.”
How you keep track of what you have to do each day:
“Microsoft Teams and OneNote.”
Best advice you ever received:
"There are a couple different things people have told me over the years which have made a difference in my life. The first is an attitude of never give up. To be successful in racing you must overcome adversity and believe you can win. Secondly, racing is a team sport. We must rely on each person to contribute to the team to win. Finally, the concept of servant leader. My main job is to enable my team to develop the tools necessary to help our race teams win races. To be able to serve others, to help others, and to give to others, I believe that will take you far.”
Influential person in your life:
“I look up to and admire a lot of people, but ultimately the most influential person in my life is my father. Unfortunately, he is not with me anymore, but he always had a great attitude about serving others, helping others and giving to others. I learned from my father at a very young age the concepts of doing a good job, getting things done and above all else having high integrity, and I believe it helped me get to where I am today. So, I would have to say the most influential person in my life was my father.”
Favorite thing about working at Hendrick Motorsports:
“I love Hendrick Motorsports and I love the people. We are fortunate that we have a lot of resources available where we can get things done and try new things. If you believe in something and want to try something new, Mr. Hendrick and the management will help you. Another thing that I keep going back to is the intensity. Everyone is so passionate about what they are doing here and being the best. It’s fantastic to work in a place where everybody understands that to be the best you have to work harder and smarter to make things happen, and that’s an amazing feeling.”
Who helps things run smoothly:
“There are so many people here that are good at their job, it is not an easy question to answer. Some people have helped me a lot, and to them I give thanks. Kelly DeHart and Lynn Hess absolutely help me get my job done. But there are many other key people on my work team who have the tools and the communication skills necessary that I rely on to keep everything moving forward. At the end of the day, as a team we rely on many people to make magic happen here.”
Something people might not know about working for a race team:
“Many people don’t know how sophisticated we must be with technology to compete at a high level in NASCAR. Our resources come in the forms of people and tools. We have the best drivers in the sport, but we also have some of the smartest management, crew chiefs, race engineers, aerodynamicists, designers and simulation engineers working with us at Hendrick Motorsports. One of the things I like to do is recruit a lot of younger people to come and work here. When you talk to them about NASCAR and what we do, they don’t realize that we are as advanced as Formula 1 in many regards. That to them, is a huge surprise."
What type of music you listen to at work:
“I grew up in Puerto Rico where music and dancing were our way of life 24/7, but today being so close to the shop floor the grinding of sheet metal and whir of power tools is music to my ears. The rhythm from the guys working on the cars tells me that our cars are getting faster.”
Who else should answer these questions:
“Everybody! Each person at Hendrick Motorsports has a unique story to tell. I hope that you have gotten to know me a little bit better. I think it would be very fascinating to hear your story and getting to know each of my co-workers a little better as well.”