Angelina Davila spent her time at DePaul University going after the perfect subject of a story, but her role as a journalist flipped over the summer when she joined NASCAR’s communications team in Charlotte, North Carolina.
NASCAR created the Diversity Internship Program for students with a diverse background to emerge into the sports industry. This summer, Davila joined the 22nd class of the program and was a representative of the few Midwestern universities that were selected.
Davila earned her bachelor’s degree in English in 2023. While she did not study journalism, Davila followed a journalistic path to suit her passion for writing. She wrote for the College Basketball Times and contributed to 14 East Magazine. Her goal was always to stay in sports media, and she succeeded this summer by being one of 37 interns at the NASCAR Diversity Internship program.
The program has existed since 2000, with a range of departments like the Chicago Street Race, social media and partnership marketing.
Coming rom a background of writing, Davila had to push her instincts as a journalist aside and tap into a public relations mindset. Her focus was now being the middle ground between the writer and topic. Although Davila wasn’t a stranger to finding her own contacts and resources, she released the comfort of conducting interviews and became familiar with her first communications role.
“For me it’s really hard to make sure that I’m pitching a story convincing enough to a journalist who’s willing to take it,” Davila said.
NASCAR’s iRacing series fell under Davila’s responsibility. The idea of iRacing is a simulation of a race track completed by drivers online. NASCAR endorses this series and has its own NASCAR Coca Cola iRacing series.
Davila felt rewarded during the lead up to the press releases on events like iRacing and watching her work play out after months of behind-the-scenes preparation.
Her work never stopped in the office, and Davila’s passion for motorsports began on the track when she attended the Coca Cola 600 race in Charlotte. The Coca Cola 600 is an annual 600-mile-long NASCAR cup series race held in Charlotte Motor Speedway. This tradition began in 1960 and has had an influential presence in the racing world since then.
“We got to talk to the people who did the tire changes, who work in the pits and that was super cool, so basically [I] fell in love with racing after that, ” Davila said. She now finds herself checking up on the latest news in motorsports and all things NASCAR.
A sign that she was following the right path came from Steve Phelps, the president of NASCAR. “He told me a good piece of advice which was to ‘work in an environment that values their employees,’” Davila said. “While I’m in my job search as a recent college graduate, this is one of the biggest factors in terms of where I apply and accept offers.”
Phelps wasn’t the only part of the company that was welcoming, Davila said. She met with many mentors on the executive level who made themselves very accessible to the interns. Davila experienced the same energy from the drivers themselves.
“The drivers are so honest,” Davila said. “Even looking through NASCAR’s socials, they’re just so relatable with their fans and audience.”
There are multiple factors that made her internship memorable and a step into the right direction with a competitive industry like sports media, but Davila felt culturally seen which made her transition seamless.
“I don’t think this program is just like, ‘Hey, we need to make ourselves look good as an organization. Let’s create a diversity program’. No, they are actually trying so hard to make sure we succeed,” she said.
NASCAR is working towards having more inclusion in sports by having three diversity programs focused on internships, suppliers and their drivers. Davila sat in on multiple conversations with executives who discussed how diversity has to be supported in the sports industry, and she said the company is pushing every effort to reach that goal.
As the industry continues to progress and diversify each sector of the business, Davila is ready to continue her work and will not stray away from sports. She looks forward to the opportunity of working with NASCAR in the future and to see the company grow their Chicago Street Team.
Header by Mei Harter