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CONCORD, N.C. – Long regarded as one of the most influential women in NASCAR, decorated auto racing engineer Alba Colón joined Hendrick Motorsports in January 2018 as its director of competition systems.

Coming to the organization after a career with General Motors that spanned more than two decades, she jumped into her new role “full-throttle,” embracing the challenge right away.

“It has been even more fun than I expected,” Colón said. “From the manufacturer to being with the team in the middle of this is way, way more intense. And I really like that a lot.”

Over her career, Colón has received numerous honors for her pioneering work. Last week, she picked up another, courtesy of Sports Business Journal.

She was one of 35 women in leadership roles for a wide range of sports businesses named as a “Game Changer” in 2018.

“It’s one of those things that you don’t believe,” Colón said. “I will be honest with you – you do your job because that’s what you love. And then for somebody to recognize your work, it’s a very humbling experience.”

Colón traveled to New York to accept the award at the Game Changers: Women in Sports Business conference.

It featured panel discussions on the state of women’s sports and sports business as well as media coverage of women’s sports.

“The opportunity to go to New York, yes, to receive the award was great, but I think what I enjoyed the most was meeting all the amazing people that were there,” Colón said. “To meet other women that have done a lot in their respective sports was really great.”

One aspect that stood out to Colón was that many other women’s sports have to address how to compete with men’s sports.

“Our sport is not like that,” she said. “Ours is one of the few sports that is not really divided. It’s men and women together. So, that, for me, was a very interesting part. We are equal at the track and we participate together – it’s one of the few sports where we do that.”

Along with Colón, honorees came from the likes of ESPN, WWE, MLB, MLS and the NCAA as well as individual NBA and NHL teams among many other companies.

Each one received a plaque for driving innovation, engagement and deal-making in sports.

“You think to yourself, ‘How did I get here?’” Colón said. “When you hear some of these women, what they do, it was a great experience. And to be able to represent our company and represent our sport, for me, that was a big deal.”