CONCORD, N.C. – Some students don’t get a chance to gain workplace experience until after they graduate college, but Cole Sims is less than two weeks away from wrapping up an internship at Hendrick Motorsports after only one year of school.
A LEARNING EXPERIENCE
The 18-year-old will begin his sophomore year classes at Virginia Tech this fall after completing his freshman year at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He has tasked himself with a triple major, his focus being mechanical engineering.
For the past several weeks, Sims has been working closely with the race engineers in the Nos. 5 and 24 race shop as an engineering intern. He grew up watching NASCAR with his family and has been involved in the technical side of automobiles.
“I had experience with both and this is my first experience really combining the two,” Sims said.
Following an MIT job fair, Sims reached out to a connection he had at Hendrick Motorsports and was able to arrange the summer internship. He aids both the Nos. 5 and 24 teams in the shop but when at the track, is assigned to Kasey Kahne’s team.
Sims helps out where needed on different projects and adds an extra pair of hands to the engineers’ daily responsibilities. He is also a part of the testing that goes on to assess where the teams can be more competitive. He went along with the No. 5 team to the Kentucky tire test that Kahne was a part of and gained valuable hands-on experience.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Sims said. “I’ve learned a lot, definitely. I have had some really great opportunities to work with some really great people.”
CHIPS, SALSA AND THE RIVER HOUSE
Sims, who hails from Mechanicsville, Virginia, will head north to Virginia Tech in a couple weeks to begin practicing with the school’s football team in preparation for his first season as a Hokie.
The offensive lineman was recruited by the Virginia football program out of high school but had already committed to MIT. However, after deciding to transfer schools, he will suit up in the familiar orange and maroon colors this fall.
Sims has been going to Virginia Tech football games since he was young and said the tailgating experience is like no other.
“It’s a whole other world,” the player said. “It’s really one big family, that’s how the fan base is oriented. You can go to any tent, any little group of people and play cornhole with people you’ve never met before.”
That concept is something that has stuck with Sims through his high school years and even now as he plans to start his academic career there.
“I think that experience is really something special,” he said. “There’s something about that environment there that really brings people together and tailgating is a huge part of that.”
Two of Sims’ must-haves for the best tailgate are chips and salsa and of course, a good game of cornhole.
One of the other necessities on his summer fun checklist is time on the water. Sims spent summers during his childhood at his family’s river house on the Rappahanock River in Virginia. While most of his time there is spent fishing, the college student said he also enjoys swimming.
“I think a great way to spend a summer day is out on the water, that’s how I spend a lot of them,” Sims said.
FOOTBALL VS. MOTOR SPORTS
The college sophomore acknowledged that his summer experience at Hendrick Motorsports has helped him narrow down the type of career he would like to pursue following his schooling.
Hoping to continue a career in motor sports, Sims said he believes his football experience will be helpful that endeavor, as it was part of the reason he was offered the internship at Hendrick Motorsports.
“Mr. (Brian) Whitesell actually told me he was interested in me because I was a football player and an engineer,” Sims said, “not because I went to MIT or anything like that.”
The intern said many aspects of being a member of a football team transfer over to being a part of a motor sports team, especially the concept of hard work.
“It’s a competition and you’re competing to win every week and you have to have that drive,” he explained. “You have to want to put in the work and the time to beat the other people who are trying to beat you and that’s something that transfers a lot from football. I’m very grateful for being raised playing football and understanding that and coming to work with the same work ethic.”
TEAM STORE SUMMER DISCOUNTS
In this edition of #HendrickSummer guide, you can receive a special discount on Kasey Kahne's Farmers Insurance driver cap. To receive the 10 percent discount in both the team store and the online store, use the code HENDRICKSUMMER at checkout.
Make sure to look for next week’s edition of #HendrickSummer for new stories and a brand new discount. And don’t forget to use the hashtag #HendrickSummer to share with us your favorite summer tailgating games, recipes and outdoor activities.