Acuna is off to the races with NASCAR Diversity Internship

Wed, 07/15/2009 - 9:14am
By: Michael Boylan

Acuna is off to the races with NASCAR Diversity Internship

Gabriela Acuna, 22, played tennis at Starr’s Mill High School and Georgia College and State University, but this summer she is interning in a sport that is as far from the quiet courts as possible. Thanks to the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program, Acuna, who is of Hispanic descent, is working with the marketing and licensing departments of Joe Gibbs Racing. Since beginning the 10 week program earlier this summer, things have been going full speed ahead for the Peachtree City resident.

Acuna’s job entails getting approvals on products that feature members of the Joe Gibbs Racing team and their sponsors. For instance, a recent shirt that came through featured driver Kyle Busch and the M&M logo, so Acuna and the marketing and licensing departments had to get the approval of the sponsor before it could go further. The job also features lots of research and meetings. Acuna sometimes also goes searching for unlicensed products so that the team can be alerted.

Things have been busy for Joe Gibbs Racing, especially with the emergence of driver Joey Logano, 19, who won his first Sprint Cup race recently, making him the youngest winner in the history of Cup racing, and won a Nationwide race this past Friday.

“The day after the Sprint Cup win, there was a bunch of stuff that came in for us to approve and get approvals on,” said Acuna.

Acuna has attended one race with the team and hopes to get to go to one more before the program ends early next month. Regardless, she has had a great time and learned a lot.

“This program has been more than I expected,” said Acuna, who added that she was lucky to be the only one of the 13 interns in the program to be paired with a team. One of the highlights for her this summer was setting up items for Gibbs and the drivers to sign.

“The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program has introduced dozens of students from diverse backgrounds to professional opportunities in NASCAR,” said Marcus Jadotte, NASCAR’s managing director of public affairs, who oversees the diversity department. “The program has played an important role in NASCAR’s efforts to attract the best and brightest to our industry.”

One of every 10 participants in the program goes on to secure full-time employment in the industry.

The economy may make it hard for Acuna to stay on with Joe Gibbs Racing, but they have promised to help with job placement. Acuna is actively looking for a job in North Carolina and likes the Charlotte area, but may also start grad school in the spring with a focus on marketing.

She will also be attending the next NASCAR race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, something she has done for the last four years, but this year she will see the race with new eyes, eyes that have seen the racing world from behind the scenes.

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