Name: Erica Wilkerson
Job: Senior Account Executive, Brand & Consumer Marketing
Most people ask me how I got involved with NASCAR. In 2011, I participated in the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program and was immediately hooked to the sport. I didn’t know much about NASCAR prior to that opportunity. Currently, I manage the organization’s youth platform, NASCAR Acceleration Nation. Additionally, I plan and execute brand campaigns throughout the racing season.
We recently held our inaugural Bank of America Roval 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Here is an inside look at a day in the life as a NASCAR employee.
6:45 a.m. — I’m up early to get ready for the race. I have a busy day ahead including hosting one of NASCAR’s agency partners.
7:56 a.m. — Heading to Charlotte Motor Speedway!
8:30 a.m. — Met up with our agency partners at the credential check-in to grab their HOT passes. HOT passes allow guests exclusive access to the garage and pit road while the cars are on the race track.
9 a.m. — I love sharing a driving experience with first time guests, so I secured a pace car ride for them. Time for a lap around the newly designed race track in the official pace car. We call the track a Roval, a mix between an oval and a road course.
10 a.m — Every track has a Fan Zone that’s full of vendors, merchandise trailers and random activities. We bought some hats, visited several vendors and caught some bullfighting. Anything can happen at a NASCAR event!
11:45 a.m. — We made our way into the infield just in time for the Driver/Crew Chief Meeting (DCCM). There are rules for the road, even at NASCAR. The DCCM is mandatory for each driver and crew chief. This meeting is the best way to see your favorite driver(s) up close and hear the rules of the race.
12:30 p.m. — One of my favorite places at a track is the garage. It’s sort of magical to see so many different people and personalities work together every weekend to put 40 stock cars with speeds over 200 miles per hour on a race track. We make it happen 38 weekends a year! We spent some time visiting a team’s hauler, watching the cars get set up and chatted with some pit crew members. The Qcitymetro team joined me on my tour.
1:20 p.m. — Before the green flag drops, we introduce the drivers starting from the 40th position to 1st. Some fans can walk on the track and watch the drivers come out on stage. There’s sort of a concert vibe because so many people try to stand next to the stage just for a closer look and possibly a high-five. I opted for the less crowded approach and took our group over to the start/finish line on the track, so they could sign their name.
2 p.m. — We head over to the starting grid with the drivers and their cars before they hop in. We’re on the hunt for drivers Bubba Wallace and Jimmie Johnson. We didn’t see Jimmie, but we made our way to Bubba before the start of the national anthem.
2:19 p.m. — We quickly head over to the Monster Energy pit box on pit road as the cars get ready to take the green flag. This vantage point is like no other! We’re sitting in the same seats, and have the same view, as the team crew chiefs and engineers.
As the race continues, I head down to a pit box to watch warm-ups with a few of my friends who are pit crew members. There could be a crash or caution at any time, so they must be ready to go over the wall.
Most people don’t realize that NASCAR is team sport. Although the driver is usually the focal point, they wouldn’t be able to get their job done without the crew members. I try to find time to cheer and support my pit crew friends whenever I’m at a race track, so I hang out for some time until they complete a pit stop.
BONUS: There are many African-Americans who play a role on the track, in the pit and at NASCAR headquarters. Stay tuned to Qcitymetro.com for some of these stories.
STAGE 1 COMPLETE
We watched the pit crews go over the wall and change the tires, add fuel and make any necessary adjustments.
STAGE 2 STARTS
We head out of the infield and make our way up to the NASCAR suite to watch more of the race. By this time, I’ve impressed our agency, so I finally start to relax and watch the race with them.
20 LAPS TO GO
My guests are hooked and there have been so many unpredictable changes happening that we have no idea who’s going to win the race. I figure the best place to catch the end of the race is Victory Lane, so we head there and wait for the winner.
It’s a finish that no one could’ve predicted. Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson and 2017 NASCAR Champion Martin Truex Jr. are battling for the checkered flag. Jimmie suddenly spins and Martin gets tangled up as well. Who wins? Ryan Blaney!
A finish we’ll be talking about for a long time!
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) October 1, 2018
6:45 p.m. — Overall, it was a great inaugural race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. My first-time NASCAR guests had an amazing experience.