Photo credit: NASCAR via Getty Images
Slow and steady wins the race? Tell that to a NASCAR driver tearing up the track at nearly 200 mph or pit crews that need to get a race car back on the course in a matter of seconds. Better yet, tell that to one of the thousands of workers NASCAR trains every year to handle any incidents and accidents that might take place during the competition. NASCAR offers 23 e-learning and 40 instructor-led courses, and this year alone 7,300 third-party track services personnel — such as firefighters and emergency medical service workers — reached the checkered flag on 79,000 courses. Karen Masencup, NASCAR’s director of training and development, spoke with Workforce’s James Tehrani via email about how the organization trains third-party workers. An edited transcript follows:
Workforce: Can you tell me about what types of third-party workers NASCAR uses and how you train them?
Karen Masencup: As part of its agreement with host racetracks, NASCAR provides training for all track services personnel that are hired by the host racetracks, so they are not third party in the traditional sense. Our training and development department works hand-in-hand with subject-matter experts in the track services department to develop the e-learning modules. Track services workers complete online training and then the track services department schedules hands-on training events with [one of the 29] tracks where they go on-site with training props to allow workers to enhance their skills.
WF: How does your training of external workers differ from internal training?
Masencup: The internal training developed by our department for NASCAR U includes all the training for our NASCAR officials. Our officials’ training is very similar to our external training for track services.
WF: Do you have any examples of how your training program helped deal with a real-life situation on the racetrack?
Masencup: Every time there is an on-track incident, workers are responding to it and using the skills they have learned. When a driver is transported to the infield care center, EMS workers are putting their training into action.
WF: You got your start in the aviation industry; why the switch to NASCAR?
Masencup: My husband had been involved in NASCAR for years as a pilot and spotter. I had also worked part time for Dale Earnhardt, so I was very familiar with NASCAR. While I enjoyed working in the aviation industry, when the opportunity presented itself to create a training program for NASCAR, it seemed like a natural transition.
WF: Was there a big learning curve?
Masencup: The basics of training are the same regardless of the subject. For me personally, though, there was a big learning curve. I was very familiar with airplanes, but had to learn a lot about cars. For example, I had to have basic understanding of how an official inspects a carburetor before I could design the online training for that.