Eight Bradley students interned at the Geico 400 NASCAR race on Sept. 15 in Chicago and were met with a challenging task.
The students were responsible for filming and editing two documentaries that encompassed the experiences of both the NASCAR teams and the fans in just a few hours.
“The most exciting part was being able to go into the pits, the garage and the track and talk to whatever owners, drivers and crew chiefs I wanted to,” said junior sports communication major Matt Moran. “I was able to get right into the action of a NASCAR race, and I almost got hit by a car in the garage. How many people can actually say they almost got hit by a NASCAR [car]?”
The interns, who were mainly communications majors, did not have any real experience related to the task said Assistant Professor of Communications and the faculty coordinator of the internship Angela Pratt.
“A lot of students went for this opportunity…. they were brave and said ‘I’m gonna take advantage of this’… Having that can-do attitude is absolutely what you have to have to make it in this industry.” said Pratt.
The students, who were divided into two teams, faced their first big challenge when it came time to perform interviews. The sounds of the cars and fans just about drowned out their questions said senior sports communication major Aaron Wargo.
“A NASCAR track is a very loud place, so some our audio from the interviews was not usable, making those bits of footage useless to us,” said Wargo.
Upon returning to campus, the teams had the responsibility of editing down their footage into comprehensive documentaries. This process took the entirety of two evenings, and after overcoming a few technical difficulties, both have been completed and submitted, said Moran.
“[The most difficult part] was being sure the video documentary was done to their standards with the allotted time given,” said freshman social work major Kelsey Kozlowski. “It put the pressure on my team, although it represented almost [all of] what goes into race day, lots of hard work, pressure and deadlines.”
Kozlowski, whose family has a history with NASCAR, said the experience inspired her to change her major to communications.
“It made me realize that [public relations] in racing is what I am meant to do in my life,” said Kozlowski. “It was a childhood dream of mine, but after my father passed, and we weren’t racing anymore, I sort of lost hope… This [experience] showed me I can still make it happen.”
Pratt said the experience provided both the students and the university with opportunites.
“I think that having interns at an event like this really helps to put Bradley on the map,” said Pratt. “I think it’s not only a great opportunity for the students, but also a great opportunity for the university to get its name out there.”
The internship is organized through Max Q Motorsports, and the finished documentaries will appear on the company’s website. This is the second year in a row Bradley students have participated in the race, and Pratt said she is optimistic there will be a third.