CONCORD, N.C. -- It takes a dedicated group of individuals to work for a team in the motor sports world. From public relations to engineering to marketing with sponsors, an employee of Hendrick Motorsports is always kept on their toes.
Here we explore the ins and outs of what it takes to work in motor sports as we dive into our new series, “Fueling Futures.” An initiative started by Hendrick Motorsports partner Ally, “Fueling Futures” was created in 2019 to help middle and high school aged students learn about careers they might not realize are available.
This week, get to know Stephanie Morris, who works in the marketing department as the event and community relations coordinator.
Hendrick Motorsports: What does your job entail?
Stephanie Morris: My role in the events department is to schedule events as far as anything from a trade show to a single tour, or a meeting, but also on that I do all of our community relations. Whether that is working with car clubs, whether they want to take a visit, or if its working for military and for students. We offer educational programs such as the ones we’ve done in the past with Ally and with our military programs, we do have some special fans that we like to give recognition or see what we can do to make their experience a little bit better on the fan side.
HM: How did your background lead you to Hendrick Motorsports?
SM: I grew up racing and I always say that I attribute my success and how I got to Hendrick Motorsports to my father, who not only was a racer, but said that if I wanted to drive a race car I had to build a race car and know every square inch of it. I actually grew up falling in love with the mechanical side of racing and how a race car works based off of science and math. Then being able to not only build that car but then get inside of it, drive it and win a race with it is very satisfying.
I went to Highpoint University where I got a business degree. Knowing how competitive our industry is, I knew that a business degree would give me more avenues to take in the long run, where a mechanical engineering degree put me in one spot. I wanted to take the hands-on mechanical experiences that I had and use it in a business platform. That way, if I decided down the road that I wanted to get off the mechanical side or go do something a little bit different I had that business degree to carry me in multiple different directions. That’s kind of how I got to motor sports with my business degree, but having that mechanical background and being able to talk to our sponsors not only about their investment to our company as a sponsor, but maybe their investment into the company as a partner or things that they provide to us to make our race cars go faster and perform on the racetrack.
HM: For someone who is looking to break into the industry in a role like yours, what skills must they have?
SM: It’s a very hands-on, very communication-based industry and position in general. I always say that you have to have personality. You have to be able to roll with the punches, be able to keep your composure. Without a strong personality and being comfortable with yourself, you aren’t going to be able to portray that personality and come off appropriately. You make sure that you’re talking to people, you’re taking public speaking classes, you’re really getting outside of your comfort zone. To be able to find that comfort, you need to step into avenues or step into different conversations that you might not put yourself in. That is going to broaden your personality, broaden your horizons and just make you a better communicator overall. In our world today, we are all a little afraid to step out of our comfort zone, or talk to somebody, or talk in an industry we normally talk in. It’s really important to go outside of that bubble and get into things that you aren’t normally into.
HM: What advice would you give to those in high school who are interested in a career in marketing and event coordination?
SM: Especially in the racing industry and the sport industry, it is very fast paced. It changes rapidly, so I would say if you are looking to get into the events and hospitality in sports, it is very important that you are flexible and you are able to spin on a dime, change your plan, change your direction and be confident in that change. Whatever you decide to do, you need to be confident in it knowing that you’ve made the best decision. With that, I also think you need to be very hands on as far as if you need something done or if somebody needs your help. You need to be the first one to raise your hand and get your hands dirty to get the job done.
Not necessarily say, ‘Oh, well, I don’t know how to do that’ or ‘I can’t do that.’ You need to say, ‘How can I do that?’ or ‘How can I help?’ or ‘How can I learn?’ Don’t just sit back and ask for things to be done or wait for things to be done. Sometimes you may not know how to do something but you’re going to get a lot more respect if you say, ‘Hey, I don’t know how to do that but can you teach me? Then I can help you get it done faster.’
HM: Lastly, what is your favorite part of your job?
SM: In our sport and in motor sports in general, it is very family based. Whether it is here at Hendrick Motorsports or in any degree at the racetrack, it’s all family based. That is my favorite part about it, that when I do go to work, it is a family atmosphere. I know that I can trust the people I am around to have my back and to be there for me not only in a job aspect, but in an emotional aspect, especially in the hard times of everyone being at home. It’s not very normal. A lot of people would just shut down and do their work and be done with it. But from the family atmosphere, we were constantly checking in on each other, whether it was in our marketing department or its over in the race shops or over in the engine shops.
I think the other thing about it is the human interaction. You have so much hands-on experience, so much interaction, not only with your fellow employees, but with the sponsors, as well. Or seeing that satisfied sponsor and helping them make that connection to their investment with our company and then seeing that car go out on that track and win a race - there is no other feeling like that. To be in that family atmosphere, that team atmosphere where you can actually watch your work on TV come to life - it’s pretty unreal.