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 assembling the cars, an employee at 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 Alba Colon, the director of the competition systems group at Hendrick Motorsports. An engineer by trade, Colon was born in Puerto Rico and discovered motor racing while in college. She worked her way through the field and has been part of the racing community for over 20 years.
Hendrick Motorsports: What does your job entail?
Alba Colon: As director of the competition systems group, I take care of everything that has to do with the simulation side of the business. We also work on the tires, data acquisition, strategy tools, all the tools that the race teams need to be able to win races and championships.
HM: How did your education and background lead you to Hendrick Motorsports?
AC: I am a mechanical engineer. I graduated from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, and when I was at school I loved working with race cars, specifically with Formula SAE International. Through that, I was able to get a job at General Motors. I was in the department of racing for many years before I started at Hendrick Motorsports around three years ago.
HM: For someone who is looking to break into the industry in a role like yours, what skills must they have?
AC: You have to have a lot of skills, specifically technical skills. Some of the other ones are you have to be very resourceful. You have to also think out of the box and be able to work hard at whatever is presented in front of you. We deal with a lot of issues every day, and we need to think about how we can go and make this tool better and to help our race teams to be faster. If you think out of the box and if you are always thinking about, ‘How do I make something better?’ You are the right person for this job.
HM: What advice would you give to those in high school who are interested in a career like yours?
AC: You need to have the right education for this kind of job. We look for a lot of engineers – software engineers, mechanical engineers – to be able to work here. Aside from that, you need to have that right attitude for the job. The ‘never give up’ attitude and to be able to take on anything that comes in front of you. If you have those skills, that’s what we’re looking for with this job. Also, you need to love cars, specifically race cars, to be able to do this and to be willing to give the hours and whatever takes to get this job done. Stay in school and never quit.
HM: Lastly, what is your favorite part of your job?
AC: My favorite part of this job is the ability to work with great people. Talented people. Also being able to work with race cars. But mostly, to be able to work on challenging items and projects every single day. Trust me, not every day is the same and you never know what will come to you, but you get the ability to use your mind, to use all the resources in front of you, and to be able to succeed. I seriously love this job every single day.