(pictured above: Gregory Carty (second from left) and the other interns pose with driver Darrell Wallace Jr. (second row, center) a NASCAR event in Charlotte.)
Gregory Carty is living his life, and his dream, in the fast lane this summer.
The Winston-Salem State University student and Durham native is taking part in the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program. He has spent most of the summer in Daytona Beach, Fla., working side-by-side with some of NASCAR’s top executives.
“Being in the program was a great experience and the true definition of a hands-on internship,” said the 19-year-old rising junior. “I feel as though my knowledge of the sport has increased over time, and I appreciate the sport a lot more. With the projects that I was assigned, I really did feel like I was part of the department.”
The internship program is one of several NASCAR outreach initiatives intended to make the ranks and fan-base of auto-racing more racially diverse. WSSU, a historically black university, has a motorsports management degree program. Carty, however, is studying business administration with a concentration in sports management. As a NASCAR intern, he has seen racing from a vantage point that the millions who watch races from afar will never get.
“There are many strategies to win a lap other than just driving faster than your opponent,” he said. “The races are won in the pits. At the end of the day, the pit crew and driver has to team up to get into the victory lane for that day.”
Carty, who is the youngest intern in the program’s history, is worked the Events Marketing Department, where his duties included putting together spreadsheets and documents, pulling pictures taken at autograph sessions, creating PowerPoint presentations and documenting weekly track attendance.
He said that one of the highlights of his internship was attending the July 4 Weekend events in Daytona, an annual activity that the NASCAR faithful consider sacrosanct.
“To get to look at the fans expressions, especially the little kids, when the got to meet their favorite driver who they look up to in life,” Carty said. “It is nice when you can put together an event that will have an everlasting impression and memory on them for the rest of their lives.”
Carty is a WSSU Student Government Association member and vice president of the Sport Management Club. He is also a Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club sports camp volunteer and mentor. He believes what he learned during his summer of interning will make him a better student, student leader and mentor, as he will be better prepared “to communicate with all levels effectively and to have an open mind about things that come up.”
“The biggest (thing) that I will take away is the networking, which is a key component in this fast-pace sports industry,” he said.
Clay Harshaw, assistant professor at WSSU and coordinator of Motorsports Management, said the intership program is highly competitive and Carty was a good choice to represent WSSU.
“He is a fantastic student,” Harshaw said. “They (NASCAR) are the motivation for our program, and NASCAR has been supportive of our program since inception. (The internship program) allows students to get their foot in the door of the motorsports industry and that gives them an opportunity to get into the front office of other major sports.”