The Race Way: Students pit against others in NASCAR contest

November 3, 2010

When five students from Indiana State University pondered how best to deal with more than 85,000 discarded racecar tires, they weren't just considering a hypothetical situation.

It could be the kind of dilemma they face as professionals.

Members of ISU's NASCAR Kinetics team contemplated the tire issue as just one in a series of case studies as part of a nationwide competition they hope to win. The team is vying against nine other university groups across the country in NASCAR's Kinetics: Marketing in Motion competition. The contest, which consists of three case studies and a viewing party for a NASCAR race, has "been a good learning experience for them," said Joyce Young, marketing professor and director of the motorsports studies program. Young and sport management professor Kim Bodey are co-advising the ISU NASCAR Kinetics group.

"They've been very frustrated at times," Young added, "but they've never given up, and they're doing quite well."

The case studies, including the tire dilemma, are business issues similar to the ones NASCAR officials face, Young said. As part of the contest, the team members learned about the case study and contemplated their response before submitting it to NASCAR.

"Right off the bat, I don't think any of us, including Dr. Young, knew what to expect from NASCAR," said senior Sarah Adams of Terre Haute, a kinetics team member. "We were kind of just thrown into it and we knew we would be doing case studies, but we had no idea what was going to be in store for us."

The case study about the tires was the most difficult, Adams said. But that didn't mean that the team wasn't successful; the group finished in second out of all the groups for the case study.

The team members did not have much time between receiving the assigned case studies to the time when their responses had to be submitted.

"It was crazy," Young said. "I like to say it was a cross between ‘The Apprentice' and ‘Survivor.'"

Teams also needed to host an official NASCAR viewing party, which would be a way to include festivities for a crowd to watch a NASCAR race. The ISU Kinetics team conducted its viewing party at the Zorah Shrine Temple for the NASCAR Sprint Cup - AMP Energy Juice 500 at Talladega on Oct. 31.

Between 200 and 250 people attended the viewing party, said ISU senior Kaci Lientz of Rockville, Ind., another kinetics team member. Many people who attended the event stayed for the five-hour duration of the festivities, she added.

The event was the last project that the group had to complete for the competition. They then had to write a review paper about the viewing party and submit that to NASCAR, and then wait word on how they fared compared to the other groups in the contest.

The contest also provided additional ways for team members to learn. The group visited JMI, a global motorsports marketing services company based in Zionsville, Ind. The team was able to go on a tour and speak with a member of the staff. The trip helped to give the team members some guidance, Young said. The group also visited with marketing executives at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to create a promotional plan for the Brickyard 400, which was work required for one of the case studies.

Kinetics team members all are minoring in motorsports management, though they have different majors. Adams and Lientz are communication majors; junior David Lund of Rockville, Ind., is an accounting major; senior Justin Chappell of Indianapolis, Ind., is majoring in automotive technology management and senior Courtney Patberg of Huntingburg, Ind., is majoring in recreation and sport management.

"That's definitely been a big help," Adams said. "It's a lot different than if you had five marketing people or five P.R. people, you would get only one kind of analysis."

For Lientz, the competition provided an in-depth look at working for NASCAR, an organization that she had been interested in possibly working for since she first started her motorsports management minor.

"It just makes me feel pretty good and really excited to be involved and do something of this manner, because I know not many people get the opportunity to do something like this," she said.

By participating in the contest, the students will receive a letter of recommendation from NASCAR. If the ISU group wins, the students will be off on an all-expenses paid trip to Florida for the Ford 400 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 21. In addition to seeing the race in person, the winning team also will have an opportunity to network with NASCAR officials and other race-related representatives.

"Being a racing fan, it's awesome. Being an Indiana State motorsports studies student, it's awesome," Adams said of the possible win. "And then thinking about graduating in May and the career opportunities that we're all going to get from this program, especially if we win, is even more awesome."

ISU was first approached to be part of the national competition last spring, Young said, and ISU will have students participating in the competition each semester for the next three years.

"In terms of United States motorsports, you cannot get any better than that in terms of the experience," Young said, "and so it's very good for our program, and very good for our students, and very good for ISU."

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Events/Talladega-viewing-party/103110talladegaviewing-8602/1071363358_nm5Ut-L.jpg (ISU/Tony Campbell)
Sycamore Sam watches as spectators at the NASCAR viewing party play a racing game. The ISU NASCAR Kinetics team hosted the viewing party as part of the group's activities in the NASCAR Kinetics: Marketing in Motion competition.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Events/Talladega-viewing-party/103110talladegaviewing-8709/1071360162_HYV7N-L.jpg (ISU/Tony Campbell)
Spectators watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup - AMP Energy Juice 500 at Talladega on Oct. 31 at the Zorah Shrine Temple in Terre Haute. The ISU NASCAR Kinetics team hosted the viewing party as part of the group's activities in the NASCAR Kinetics: Marketing in Motion competition.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/photos/1073235572_qfX9X-L.jpg (Courtesy Photo)
ISU NASCAR Kinetics team members junior David Lund and seniors Sarah Adams, Kaci Lientz, Courtney Patberg and Justin Chappell pose for a photo with Lauri Crawford and Bob Abdellah of JMI, a motorsports marketing company, at the organization's headquarters in Zionsville, Ind.

Contact: Joyce Young, director of motorsports studies program, Scott College of Business, Indiana State University, 812-237-2000 or joyce.young@indstate.edu.

Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or austin.arceo-negrich@indstate.edu.