NASCAR and Elon

Katie Nash
June 15, 2012

You’re probably wondering what NASCAR and Elon have to do with each other. It all started during a winter term session in January of 1994 when “The Business of NASCAR” class was first offered, taught by Dr. Janie Brown. This course was initially offered through the department of Health, Physical Education, Leisure/Sports Management. Since 2001, the course has been offered through the Love School of Business. The idea to create and offer “The Business of NASCAR” class came one day when Dr. Brown was conversing with students about courses that would be interesting to offer during winter term. According to Dr. Brown, “We were talking about what sports are successful in attracting fans, and one of the students said, ‘Look at NASCAR’…that was really the origin.” Dr. Brown became very enthusiastic about creating the class, and teaching it during winter term. In the beginning, the class emphasized the business of NASCAR and how officials with NASCAR promote it.

Immediately becoming one of the most popular courses at Elon in 1994 (and beyond), Dr. Brown introduced her students to the business of NASCAR in relation to economics, marketing, merchandise, advertising, psychology, and much more. Dr. Brown also taught students about the beginnings of stock car racing, the role of technology in racing, and everything in between. The one month class included readings, research reports, class discussions, a final exam, and some travel to small and large speedways in North Carolina. Some of the research topics have included merchandising of memorabilia, differences in promoting NASCAR, differences in the tracks, injuries and deaths in racing, the cost of advertising, and the psychology behind the design and placement of decals on the race cars.

The course has received local and national attention both in newspapers and on television. In addition to being featured in local North Carolina newspapers, national newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal included stories about the class. In May of 1994, ESPN shot footage and conducted interviews with Dr. Brown about the class and two Elon alum’s that were involved with NASCAR racing. In March of 1995, NBC Nightly News aired a piece on the class and how NASCAR has grown into a large business.

Today, “The Business of NASCAR” course is offered during winter term through the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business. According to the course description, “This course is a study of the marketing, management and economical aspects of NASCAR racing as a present day phenomenon of society. Through this course, students come to understand racing as a sport, sporting entertainment and business, and that automobile racing is truly more than a car that goes around a track on Sunday.”

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