“I’m Not Going Anywhere: Getting to Know, JJ LaRose”
Written by: Chrissi Wolosz – Coordinator, Marketing Communications
Pocono Raceway (May 11, 2020) – Ever wonder whose voice you are hearing over the speakers during race weekends or who is in almost all our social media videos? Well to answer that question, that would be JJ LaRose! JJ is at the forefront of it all being the friendly face the fans easily recognize.
JJ is a Hazelton native which is about 30 miles southwest of the track. For as long as he can remember, every summer the races at Pocono were a must-see for his family. JJ has spent his time in infield camping, grandstands, you name it he has experienced it at Pocono Raceway. He has made many memories here growing up and now his life was coming full circle from being an avid race fan to now pursuing a career in motorsports. Like many racing fans, you get into the sport at a young age and you are a fan for life. His father was an Earnhardt fan, making JJ a fan as well but then Daniel Hemric came into the sport. If you ever step foot in JJ’s office, it is as if you walk into a Hemric museum with all types of No. 8 memorabilia on display. Although, in an honest statement he says he is a fan of “the good personalities, the good story lines, the good guys and gals of the sport…”.
JJ got his start at Pocono Raceway in 2014 with an internship, a requirement to complete his degree in Marketing from Penn State Hazelton. At the time there was not an internship submission form like there is now, so JJ sent Pocono Raceway a Facebook message hoping for the best! This was more of a leap-of-faith moment because after all, this is the career path he wanted to be in. Eventually scoring a role as intern, he worked alongside Partnership Sales and Operations but was called upon wherever help was needed. As an intern, JJ found himself dabbling in everything – marketing street team member, attending area partner events and overall getting the facility ready for events.
Through his whole experience he vividly remembers the racing events of 2014 – when Dale Earnhardt Jr. swept both races. It was a great year for JJ, starting up a position in the industry he loved and then getting to witness one of the biggest names in the sport, clinch a win at Pocono Raceway. “It was a huge moment for me” JJ says. “As that kid who is interning in a ‘dream job’, grew up an Earnhardt fan to see Dale Jr. not only get his first race at Pocono Raceway that year, but then sweep the second race.” As a passionate NASCAR fan explains, “that will forever be one of my favorite memories at Pocono Raceway”. When the internship was coming to an end, JJ refused to believe it. He continued to volunteer his time working events after the racing season was over. When approached by Brandon Igdalsky, the President and CEO of the track at the time, he jokingly asked what JJ was still doing there. To put it bluntly, JJ said “I am not going anywhere”. With having shared an office with JJ (and Kevin Teel), I am aware of JJ’s persistence on something he feels strongly about. In this case, he was not leaving Pocono Raceway.
In the matter of a few months, JJ was offered a trial position and he immediately accepted. During that time, the Marketing Department was expanding and there was an open position for a dedicated role to manage all promotions. JJ took on the challenge in 2015 and made the role his own while exceeding the expectations of the company. He was then asked to stay on permanently as Manager of Content and Promotions. Each year he gained more responsibility like social media, webpage creation, email marketing, kids club organizer, fan council…the list goes on. Being a publicly facing figure with the community promotions he would work, it was only fitting he is the one seen and heard the most by fans. In October of 2019 he transitioned into a new role – Manager of Partnership Sales and Services. Although different from his previous role, he sees this as yet another opportunity to grow. As he conquered the challenge of taking on a brand-new role six years ago, he was ready to take on another one 6 years later.