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 Financial, “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 Ezekiel Clay. A liaison between Hendrick Motorsports and the organization’s important sponsors, Clay breaks down what it takes to work on the business side of the racing world.
Hendrick Motorsports: What does your job entail?
Ezekiel Clay: I work on the sponsorship team. Basically, what I do is I lay out the information for either new sponsors or existing sponsors. On a daily basis I’m creating new slide templates to show nice visuals for these multi-page presentations - we call them decks - to send over to existing sponsors or new sponsors we’re trying to build relationships with.
HM: How did your education and experience lead you to Hendrick Motorsports?
EC: I’m a 2013 graduate of the Art Institute of Charlotte and my job here is basically all layout work and my entire career has all been layout work. I started doing brochures and other marketing materials that was just laying out a bunch of content. Word documents with three to four pages of just words and I would lay them out nice and neat. That type of work got me here where I do the same thing, just in the NASCAR industry.
HM: What would someone need to do to excel in a role like yours?
EC: The main thing would be the ability to take and accept critique because nothing is approved on the first shot. You send out work and it may go through 10 people and come back with all these edits. If you take that personally, you’re going to flat out not make it. Being able to accept critique would be the main thing, and also having the ‘less is more’ design style, a more corporate design style. Nice and clean layout styles.
HM: What advice would you give high school kids if they are looking to make a career out of a position like yours?
EC: I would say look at magazines and publications instead of looking at the layouts and thinking, ‘Somebody did this work.’ Newspapers, things like that. People like me are the people who do those layouts and people usually call that type of graphic design ‘boring design’ because it’s not bling with the stars and the stripes everywhere. It’s actually my design style, so I would say be open-minded to work like that. Going to grocery stores and what not, look at magazines and take in the actual layouts and keep in mind somebody actually did this work and they are an artist.
HM: What is your favorite part about working at Hendrick Motorsports?
EC: I would say NASCAR itself. Before being here, I wasn’t too familiar with the sport so learning more about NASCAR, using the images, using the decks and the proposals we do is cool. We have some really cool pictures from wins, whether they are doing a burnout or things like that, that would be my favorite part. That’s the reason why it would be my favorite part because it adds enjoyment to actually doing the work. Laying out a deck and liking the way this picture looks would give you more motivation to make a deck that looks really, really good, so I am enjoying learning more about NASCAR and using all these cool pictures of the cars and the crew and the teams.