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NASCAR team wins competition

Amanda Gray | Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Notre Dame’s NASCAR Kinetics: Marketing in Motion team came away victorious this weekend at the national competition in Miami, team member and Notre Dame sophomore Cate Hefele said.

“We competed against five other universities throughout the semester and then the top three universities were chosen to come to Miami for the finals,” Hefele said.

“Once in Miami we presented to a panel of five NASCAR executives — and some other NASCAR-affiliated people who weren’t judging us, making it about 15 people in the room — and then awaited the results. It was all very The Apprentice-like,” Hefele said. “Each team had a separate practice and presentation time and we couldn’t watch each other, and then we didn’t find out until the next day who won.”

The team found out Thursday morning they won out over the other schools.
“We waited and waited and waited, and finally the two cars arrived to take the losing teams straight to the airport — no passing go, no collecting $200,” Hefele said. “We went outside and each car had a school logo on it, designating which school was to ride in the car. When we looked at the cars and saw that the ND logo wasn’t there, it dawned on us that we won.”

Winning was an amazing feeling, team captain and junior Ricky Gonzalez said.

“It was very intense, almost a reality TV show,” Gonzalez said. “We were confident with our presentation, and felt that the judges received our ideas well, and we felt comfortable in the room even though there were very high executives judging. However, we had absolutely no idea what ideas the other school’s had, nor how they presented. We learned it was very close with Howard University, but we were certainly proud to win.”

The group got to stay in Miami for the weekend, attending the last three races of the NASCAR season and going behind the scenes with the drivers, among other activities, Hefele said.

“Really it was the intangibles that I know I got the most out of,” Gonzalez said. “The experience of working with a professional organization, presenting to top officials within that organization, and learning the values of leadership and teamwork are things that cannot really be measured, but I can assure have paid off so much in job interviews and just in practicality. These are all things that cannot really be learned in the classroom, and as a result, that is why I got way more than just a trip to Miami.”

This is only the second semester of the NASCAR Kinetics program, and the first semester Notre Dame participated, Gonzalez said. He hopes Notre Dame continues to have success with the program.

“This program is awesome,” Gonzalez said. “It is a great experience, and even if we didn’t win, I would not regret the time put in. However, if you do win, you are sure to get an experience of a lifetime.”

The group has put in many man-hours over the entirety of the semester, Gonzalez said.
“It was essentially the equivalent to another three credit hour course,” Gonzalez said. “We’d meet on average, once or twice a week for at least an hour at a time, but when cases were due, upwards of two to three hours each meeting.”

Hefele said she doesn’t regret the time commitment.

“I mean we logged a ton of hours at the library and had to sacrifice other homework and some serious sleep, but I’m answering my e-mail from a lawn chair in South Beach,” Hefele said. “Doesn’t get much better than that.”

If interested in joining the group, contact Gonzalez at egonzal6@nd.edu or Notre Dame’s representative from NASCAR, Talia Mark, at NASCARkinetics@nascar.com for an application.