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NASCAR drives internships

Bradley’s first NASCAR internship opportunity “fell out of the sky” in early September, and hopes are running high for a repeat performance at the Geico 400 at Joliet’s Chicagoland Speedway next year. Eight students in the sports communication program assisted with promotions and PR for the #37 Sprint Cup Ford Fusion that was wrapped in Bradley’s wordmark and the Braves logo. 

Co-owner of the #37 Sprint Cup race team, SUZANNE RICHEY ’87 pauses with Max Q Motorsports’ owner Larry Gunselman at the track.

Avid NASCAR fan ALAN FUEHRING ’12 said, “This is what I’ve wanted to do my whole life. Bradley handed me my dream for the weekend. We had hands-on experiences with the car and crew. Nerves were running high, and we felt the nerves of the team. We felt like we were part of the team.”

“Alan looked like a little kid on Christmas morning,” fellow NASCAR intern KATIE CASEY ’13 said. She is one of six interns staying on with Max Q Motorsports for the remainder of the season. Although meeting Jeff Gordon was a highlight of her weekend, Casey said she couldn’t count how many people came by during the weekend and said, “Go Bradley.”

The internship originated when North Carolina’s Max Q Motorsports business manager SUZANNE RICHEY ’87 contacted Dr. Angela Pratt, assistant professor of sports communication, to share her idea of offering NASCAR internships to students at her alma mater. After reading Pratt’s biography on the website and noticing that she had worked in Charlotte, the race capital of the country, Richey thought Pratt would consider Bradley’s involvement. Richey also knew Bradley’s proximity to the track would be ideal for the interns.

Reflecting on Richey’s initial call and their flurry of emails, Pratt said it almost sounded “too good to be true. We were given the opportunity to bring national awareness to our sports communication program and provide our students with career opportunities in NASCAR.” 

Visit bradley.edu/hilltopics/go/NASCAR to download the card.

Max Q Mortorsports’ owner Larry Gunselman donated the primary sponsorship of the Geico 400 race to Bradley University. He and Richey visited campus on September 15 with an authentic show car that replicated the official Bradley NASCAR vehicle. 

The interns had responsibilities before, during, and after the event. They wrote team biographies, drafted press releases, took photos, assisted with media relations, and facilitated tours of the pit and the garage area. Richey also offered Fuehring a marketing internship that includes some design work. In response to requests from Bradley alumni, Fuehring designed a hero card featuring the Bradley vehicle and driver Josh Wise (shown).

Richey, a Peoria native, said everyone on the team enjoyed working with the enthusiastic group of Bradley students. “Their internship at the Geico 400 provided an opportunity to see firsthand the excitement of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing from pit road. I’m sure the students have gained a new perspective on career opportunities in our sport.”

— Karen Crowley Metzinger, MA ’97
Photography by Duane Zehr

ALAN FUEHRING ’12, ZACHARY LARSON ’14, and ZACHARY KEESEE ’12 were public relations and promotion interns for the #37 Bradley Sprint Cup race team at the Chicago Speedway in Joliet in September.