Celebrating National Girls & Women in Sports Day

Celebrating National Girls & Women in Sports Day

CONCORD, NC – February 1 marks the 37th annual National Day of Girls and Women in Sports. This day celebrates and inspires girls and women to be active and realize their full power. Sport helps to develop strong leaders and Hendrick Motorsports is very strong in this regard.

To celebrate the day, HendrickMotorsports.com shares the stories of Laura Doucette, Beth Jones and Lisa Smokstad. These women have worked in areas that span racing, garage, public relations, marketing, event hosting and more for the 14-time NASCAR Cup Series championship-winning organization.

Lisa Smokstad

Lisa Smokstad joined Hendrick Motorsports in 1999, working with Jack Sprague’s #24 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series entry after being approached for a tire specialist role with the organization. She went to work on the No. 17 team that Ricky Hendrick drove part-time in 2000 before moving to full-time in 2001 with Hendrick at the wheel.

Smokstad enjoyed several championships with Hendrick Motorsports. It was part of Brian Vickers’ championship crew in 2003, a car which saw young Hendrick win the title as the car’s owner. She was also on the crew for one of Jimmie Johnson’s five consecutive NASCAR Cup Series titles.

“I had such fond memories of Ricky. It was super exciting,” Smokstad shared. “The 2003 title was the most memorable championship win. Our team was very tight-knit and more like a family. Mr. Hendrick was definitely our boss, but he was Ricky’s dad. Seeing Ricky win as an owner and seeing the look in his eye was something different This whole season has been nothing but a ton of fun, hard work and a great group of people.

In 2009, Smokstad ended his full-time role as a traveling crew member and moved into the shop. She still spends time on the road as she works the partial schedule for the No. 17 NASCAR Xfinity Series team as a tire specialist. In addition, she is also involved in the Garage 56 project in the same capacity. Smokstad oversees all tires and wheels for the organization, including completing post-race reports outlining tire performance and assisting all teams’ current tire specialists as back-ups.

Lisa Smokstad checks the tires on the #17 NASCAR Xfinity Series entry at Darlington Raceway in September 2022. (Adrian Lauerman/Hendrick Motorsports)

While working on the front lines of the track, Smokstad never felt like she was treated any differently. His hard work and drive to always improve has earned him respect throughout the garage.

“I recognize the fact that I’m a woman working in a male-dominated field. I’m kind of proud of that because of how hard I worked,” Smokstad said.

RELATED: Smokstad memories rush as No.17 returns to the track

beth jones

Beth Jones has been a prominent figure in the marketing department since 1998 when team owner Rick Hendrick decided to integrate marketing services into the internal organization of Hendrick Motorsports. At this time, Jones was part of a two-person team overseeing administration, account services and events.

“We did everything that all marketing does. We did it back then. We started with a contract binder,” Jones said.

As the organization continued to grow and develop, Jones rose through the ranks to Director of Events, overseeing a team of five. Jones and his team are responsible for planning and organizing 200 events and 1,000 campus visits per year.

These events included Rick Hendrick’s 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame induction event, the annual Randy Dorton Engine Builder Challenge as well as numerous on and off campus events for team employees and racing partners. One of Jones’ fond memories during his career was helping reconnect Hendrick Motorsports with a kid whose picture was NASCAR Hall of Famer and now team vice president Jeff Gordon, winner of the racing 1997 DAYTONA 500 Chevrolet.

Although Jones had a wealth of experience at Hendrick Motorsports, she did not pursue a career in the sports industry hoping to be a trailblazer.

“I didn’t see it as a sport for men. It was just that I liked people and it was a good opportunity,” Jones said. “I’m happy to be a woman in sport now. I think we bring a different perspective to the world of sport.”

Beth Jones has been with Hendrick Motorsports since 1998. (Adrian Lauerman/Hendrick Motorsports)

Laura Doucette

Laura Doucette started at Hendrick Motorsports at the end of the 2008 season as the public relations representative for NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. At the start of her career, social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram did not exist. not, which makes its role much more important. different.

“Back then, you were trying to be in the top tier of USA Today or The Charlotte Observer. That’s what a big win was,” Doucette said.

Roles within the Hendrick Motorsports marketing department often work hand in hand. This support allowed Doucette to diversify within the company. After finishing the 2015 season as a public relations representative for Earnhardt Jr., she held an account service position for Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 team, which later led her to s associated with young driver Alex Bowman when he took over the No.88 in 2018. Now Doucette is Director of Account Services and oversees account management for all four Cup Series teams.

Laura Doucette first joined Hendrick Motorsports as a public relations representative. (Adrian Lauerman/Hendrick Motorsports)

Doucette appreciates those who have helped pave her way in the industry, beginning her career as an intern at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She strives to do the same for the women who come up behind her in the sports world.

“I had great mentors and I will be forever grateful to them,” Doucette said. “I try to be like that with other women – especially as women, it’s a bit more difficult. I like to see more and more women in the sports industry, but we still have a long way to go. I think we’re smart. We’re capable. I want to see more women raising more women in the industry.”

Alba Colon

Alba Colón spent 23 years of her racing career with General Motors. Her background in engineering led her to a program manager role at GM for the company’s Cup Series team stable before joining Hendrick Motorsports at the start of the 2018 season.

In her role as Director of Competition Systems, Colón’s primary focus is to lead the team’s operations center. This is used each race weekend to remotely support the four Cup Series teams. In addition to his race weekend responsibilities, Colón continues to have a close working relationship with GM and other partners to help with tool development. Learning to interact with different groups and different departments has been a rewarding experience in her role.

“It’s been fun learning about other areas of the business,” Colón said. “At the end of the day, it’s all of us working together. Everyone thinks these things move on their own, but they don’t. When the driver says thank you to everyone at the workshop, everyone really touches this car in one way or another across different departments and different areas of the business.”

Alba Colón has extensive experience in the motorsport industry. (Adrian Lauerman/Hendrick Motorsports)

She regularly gives back to those new to the industry with her participation in Formula SAE. Most recently, she was appointed to the board of the STEAM Sports Foundation. The Atlanta-based foundation offers scholarships to minority women in the automotive and motorsport industries.

RELATED: STEAM Board Nomination Just the Latest Way Colón is Giving Back

“Education is the key to getting where we are,” Colón said. “My role model was my dad because he comes from a career as a medical doctor (MD) related to STEAM, and I’ve always looked up to Sally Ride (the first American female astronaut to fly in space). I wanted to be like her one day. from that, I never had a model to follow to say that I wanted to work on race cars. Let me spend an afternoon talking to someone about racing cars. I’ve never had those kinds of experiences, but the reality is if we see it, we believe it.

“It’s important to see it. I want to be a conduit for young girls to see that you can get to where I am today. You can come here, and we can show you cars. You can go to the race track and do anything, but you have to see it to believe it.”

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