Race to the finish
NASCAR fans at the Pure Michigan 400 race weekend Aug. 26-28 saw the debut of #88, the U-M-branded Axalta Chevrolet SS. The race car represents a multi-year research and recruiting partnership between the University and Axalta, a leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings. U-M’s Business Engagement Center (BEC) facilitated the partnership. (Images: Austin Thomason, Michigan Photography. Text: Amanda Holdsworth, BEC.)
Driving brand awareness
U-M’s BEC typically helps companies build their brands on campus through research, recruiting, and philanthropic support. This time, the company (Axalta) brought U-M’s brand to more than 5 million viewers during the Pure Michigan 400, held at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich.
Going my way?
The U-M-branded race car was the talk of the Pure Michigan 400. Even NASCAR veteran Tony Stewart had to come take a closer look.
Head to head
“Every day, the racing community depends on engineers to make sure cars are in top form,” says NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon, pictured (left) at the Michigan International Speedway in August with College of Engineering Dean Alec Gallimore.
Pedal to the metal
Leaders from Axalta, NASCAR, Michigan International Speedway, and the Motor Racing Network shared news of future research collaborations and career opportunities with U-M students.
Engineering, business, chemistry, and kinesiology students met industry leaders during a career panel at the speedway. From left: Chris McKee, director of business development for the Motor Racing Network; Steve Markevich, BBA ‘82, Axalta’s executive VP and president of transportation coatings and Greater China; Gene Stefanyshyn, senior VP, innovation and racing development at NASCAR; Roger Curtis, former MIS president; and Eric Jacuzzi, MSE ’12, senior aerodynamics/vehicle performance engineer for NASCAR.
The great chase
Eric Jacuzzi, MSE ’12, senior aerodynamics/vehicle performance engineer for NASCAR, told his fellow Wolverines: “Have a vision for yourself and chase after it, no matter what field you are in.”
Students, faculty, and fans rallied around the maize and blue presence at the Pure Michigan race weekend in August.
Seeing the Michigan-emblazoned #88 up close and personal during garage and pit tours was a highlight for U-M students during the visit to the Michigan International Speedway.
Has anyone seen my keys?
The BEC facilitated the partnership between U-M and Axalta, giving students (and College of Engineering Dean Alec Gallimore) rare access to the engineering teams at NASCAR. The collaboration is designed to kickstart research and develop new technologies.
Well-appointed NASCAR driver Alex Bowman gets ready to take the wheel of #88. U-M students met Bowman at a dinner the night before the race.
Talk about tailgating
“Engineering is an integral part of the racing industry, as it translates into practical applications we use every day,” says Steve Markevich, BBA ’82, Axalta’s executive VP and president of transportation coatings and Greater China (not pictured). “This partnership with U-M will benefit current and future students and faculty while bringing invaluable assistance to the Axalta team.”
Ready for anything
The Pure Michigan 400 race weekend drove home a key point for U-M students. From engineering and chemistry to business and sport management, there are many ways to apply one’s studies to the fast-paced racing industry.
There is no doubt about which car this pit crew is here to service.
For companies like Axalta — looking to access student talent, leverage faculty expertise, discover joint research projects, or utilize a vast network of professional development opportunities — U-M’s BEC is an ideal starting point. The BEC is sponsored jointly by the U-M Office of Research and the Office of University Development.
The Block M speeding around the track at the Pure Michigan 400 last month may have sparked at least one young NASCAR fan to consider the exciting possibilities of an education in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM).