Twice a month, we will utilize this blog to showcase some of the employees of Pocono Raceway. Today, we features Antonio Russo, one of our interns.
My name is Antonio Russo and I am the NASCAR Diversity Intern at Pocono Raceway over the summer. During my time here at Pocono Raceway, I will be working closely with the Communications and Marketing departments. After graduating from high school in my native Venezuela, I decided to attend Drexel University in Philadelphia. I graduated earlier this year with a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management and minors in Business Administration and International Economics.
As graduation got closer, my next step was to start applying for jobs in sports and give a head start to my career. After working in motorsports for almost two years as part of my college internships, I had my eyes set on returning to the world of motorsports. The NASCAR Diversity Internship program really stood out to me and I decided to apply, not knowing in what area or position I could be hired for. A month and a half later I was told I had an interview with Pocono Raceway. After interviewing and being offered the position, I decided to take the challenge and accept a summer internship with Pocono Raceway. Moving from Philadelphia to Stroudsburg was definitely going to be a challenge, but so was moving from Venezuela to Philadelphia!
Soon after I started working at ‘The Tricky Triangle,’ we had the Pocono Philadelphia Takeover event in Philadelphia. It was one of the busiest and most amazing events I have been a part of. We had several different events going on at different places with the main event being the pit stop and burnout by Ty Dillon in the No. 3 Rheem Chevrolet around City Hall. It was an overall teamwork event that demonstrated dedication and hard work the Pocono Raceway staff puts into every event they host.
After attending the NASCAR Diversity Orientation in Charlotte during the NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star Race and meeting the rest of my peers, race weekend came up really fast. By May 31, you already felt the ambiance surrounding the racetrack starting to change and everyone was laser-focused on hosting yet another successful event. This was going to be the first time I worked a NASCAR race weekend after having some experience with the IMSA race weekends. Race weekend did not disappoint and it was all I expected it to be. It brought back great memories of being at the track in the past. Seeing some familiar faces, meeting new people and sharing with the hundreds of families at the track at the different events just made the weekend really special.
I had the opportunity to help out at a Jimmie Johnson and NASA event, get interviewed in Spanish by a local news station, judge the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest and even convince every driver to sign an Axalta commemorative hood before the race. (Yes, I got all 40 of them to sign!) Unfortunately the rain did not help most of the weekend cutting the NASCAR XFINITY Series race short and moving the Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 to Monday. Moving it to Monday didn’t prevent Pocono Raceway of having a great race and Kurt Busch ended up getting the win ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski.
The quick start to my internship has really helped me adapt faster than I expected, especially by learning new things on the go. Experiencing my first race weekend at Pocono Raceway and the amazing fans really helped me understand NASCAR and the environment around it a little bit better. The fans absolutely love being here and it just makes the experience of being at the track much better. I am really looking forward for the next two races here at Pocono Raceway!