NASCAR search for potential pit crew members at Alcorn
Back in 2016, Breanna O’Leary, a former softball player at Alcorn State University who at the time was in graduate school at the University, stepped out of her comfort zone to pursue a new opportunity; auditioning for a future with NASCAR as a pit crew member.
After two years of training and hard work, O’Leary returned to the University as an independent contractor with NASCAR Wednesday, March 21 to recruit more Alcornites for NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity Crew Member Development Program. She described her path, and encourages others to take the opportunity seriously.
“In the beginning, it was challenging because I was new to the sport,” said O’Leary. “But after overcoming all of the challenges, I find myself having lots of fun. If you’re serious about it, take advantage of the opportunity because it offers plenty of experience and knowledge. All of the hard work has been worth it.”
This year, eight student athletes participated in the pit crew member tryouts at the Davey L. Whitney HPER Complex. Phil Horton, director of Athletic Performance and pit crew coach for Rev Racing, described all that NASCAR and the Rev Racing Program has to offer.
“We’re looking for athletes that are bigger, stronger and faster than your average sportsman,” said Horton. “We want to recruit them and attempt to transform them into pit crew members. We also intend to introduce the sport of NASCAR to them and other opportunities in NASCAR sales, marketing and the front office.”
Former members of the Program are currently flourishing in their field. Jusin Hamilton, senior manager of Racing Operations and Event Management for NASCAR, provided insight into the accomplishments of those who began their path with Drive for Diversity.
“Promoting diversity in the sport of NASCAR is what this program is all about,” said Hamilton. “We’ve seen tremendous success this year. The top three finishers in the Daytona 500 had diverse crew members on them. This is the same program that brings in minority drivers as well. So it’s important to us to bring more diversity into the program.”
Jerrick Newsome, a senior majoring in electromechanical and robotics engineering, said that his love for cars inspired him to explore the possibility of joining NASCAR.
“I love cars,” said Newsom, a former member of the Braves men’s basketball team. “Not only am I interested in building cars, but I’m also interested in racing. I think this is a great opportunity, and it will open my eyes to the benefits of being a NASCAR pit crew member.
Tori Span, a senior majoring in business administration, sees herself committing to a career in NASCAR if given the opportunity.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Spann, a former member of the Braves women’s basketball team. “This could be a huge part of my life because I live an active lifestyle. I also feel that this opportunity could help me grow. This is a career path that I can see myself pursuing.”
Jason Cable, assistant vice president for Athletic Compliance and Academic Services, expressed his pride in the University’s relationship with NASCAR and O’Leary’s success.
“We’re proud to extend our relationship with NASCAR, and we are also very proud of Breanna, who is a trailblazer in this initiative,” said Cable. “We look to continue our partnership with NASCAR moving forward.”