Meet Nicole Lane, a freshman marketing major in the Belk College of Business and honors student in the Business Honors Program. Learn about her future aspirations, her love for racing and her involvement with the 49ers Racing team.
Why did you choose UNC Charlotte?
I chose UNC Charlotte because of the Business Honors Program and the opportunities for a career in motorsports that come with being in the Charlotte area. The Business Honors Program has been incredibly supportive. Between my peer mentors helping me navigate freshman year to bi-weekly meetings that help me grow professionally, I know that I am not alone in my triumphs and challenges, and I have all the help I need.
What made you interested in the racing industry?
I have always been interested in cars. As a kid, I would listen to NPR’s “Car Talk” with my dad and try to solve the caller’s car problem before the hosts, Click and Clack, could. But my passion for racing didn’t start until junior year of high school when one of my teachers introduced me to Formula One. I was hooked immediately. As you might guess, it’s an extremely expensive sport, therefore it relies on sponsorships, marketing campaigns and advertising to survive. That’s when I realized that my passion for business could be applied to my passion for racing, and I’ve been dead set on pursuing a career in motorsports ever since.
What is 49ers Racing? Why is it important to you?
49ers Racing encompasses our Formula SAE Internal Combustion and Formula SAE Electric Vehicle teams. Formula SAE is an international engineering and design competition where students design, build and race formula-style cars. But it’s more than our cars, it’s our space to learn. For me, business concepts are often theoretical in the classroom, but at 49ers Racing, what I learn in the classroom comes to life. Here, as my engineering teammates get experience in design and manufacturing, I gain experience in marketing, graphic design, content creation and sponsorship acquisition. We try to make our team emulate professional teams as much as possible, but because we are students it is also a space for us to make mistakes and learn from them. I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am today without my team.
Tell me more about being a woman in motorsports. What challenges have you faced, and how are you paving your own way?
Being a woman in motorsports definitely has its ups and downs. At its worst, it can feel isolating. I used to worry so much about being taken seriously professionally and fitting in, and honestly sometimes I still do. I soon realized that in this industry, if you are working in the shop all the time and producing good results, you’ll be taken seriously. However, for every person that takes you seriously and supports you, which I am happy to say my teammates on 49ers Racing do, there is someone else in the racing community who doesn’t. You have to decide what is more important: someone’s opinion or your own goals, passion and truth.
I am not a trailblazer. I have a community of women with far more experience than I do behind me who are always willing to lend their advice and support. When it gets hard, I try to remind myself that if I can endure the disrespect and show people that women belong in every corner of motorsports, then other girls might not have to go through the same, just as my role models did for me.
What are your career and professional goals? Where do you hope to be in five years? 10?
In five years, I hope to be working in the marketing department at a racing team, hopefully a NASCAR Cup Team.
In 10 years, I would love to be working for a Formula One team. That is my wildest dream, and one that I will not stop chasing.
What's a fun fact about you many people may not know?
I am Slovak-American. My mom is from a town of about 4,000 people called Trenčianske Teplice. I grew up traveling to Slovakia to visit my family, speaking Slovak and eating Slovak food at home. Because of this, I've realized that I feel just as at home in Europe as I do in America.