Enders knows the business side of racing as much as the driving side
Erica Enders is much more than a racecar driver. Sure, she's the one pulling gears and turning on win lights in her ZaZa Energy Pro Stock Chevrolet, but her duties go far beyond the six seconds it takes her to zip down the quarter-mile .
Enders also serves as President of Erica Enders Racing, the company that markets her and partners with sponsors to fund her racing endeavors. And it's not just an honorary title. Since studying at Texas A&M's Mays Business School, Enders uses her knowledge to engage potential marketing partners and make sure the ones that support her now are always happy with their return on investment.
"People ask me a lot about my hobbies away from drag racing, and I used to do a lot of different things, from volleyball to basketball to track to gymnastics," said Enders, who races in this weekend's 24th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways. "But I really don't have time for anything like that anymore. Nowadays I have a lot of business-related activity during the week. I'll work on marketing stuff, trying to find more people to come on board with us.
"I'm a marketing major from Texas A&M so I understand a lot of what it takes to secure marketing partners. I've been in the boardrooms and met with a lot of high-profile people. It's an important part, a vital part, of what we do."
Enders, 27, is nearly as comfortable in a corporate boardroom as she is behind the wheel of her ZaZa Energy Cobalt.
"I've worked on all aspects of marketing, from proposals to budgets to tailoring sponsor packages to the company's that we're pitching," Enders said. "I make a lot of phone calls and send a lot of e-mails.
"When it happens and we partner with a company, I'll know all the hard work and effort has paid off. I'll get to see my work bear fruit. That's exciting for me."
Just like a driver needs to work on all aspects of driving, Enders has worked on all aspects of the business side of the sport.
"I learned a lot at Texas A&M, but I've learned more in the real world," Enders said. "The hands-on experience, being out here, meeting people, showing them our operation and being in the boardroom has been precious experience.
"First-hand experience isn't something you can teach in college. Texas A&M gave me a great foundation, and I'll treasure what I learned there, but being out here in NHRA for seven years has been my doctorate."
Sometimes, the reaction to Enders in boardrooms has been similar to the reaction she used to get in drag racing – eyebrows raised. But like in racing, Enders has proven she belongs in the corporate setting, too.
"Usually after meetings, people tell me they were impressed with my knowledge and how I handled myself, and I appreciate that," Enders said. "In a way, I'm continually proving myself on and off the track. I've always give 100 percent to everything I do, whether it be writing a proposal or meeting in a boardroom or when I put my helmet on and go down the race track. I dedicate everything I have to making whatever I'm doing a success.
"That doesn't guarantee success, of course, but if you don't make the effort, you won't have success. I take a lot of pride in everything I do and work really hard at all of it. It's nice to see some things come together."
Enders is seventh in the Pro Stock standings coming off a semifinal appearance in Sonoma last weekend. She's reached the final round twice this season as she guns for her first career victory and has qualified in the top half of the field in the last six events.
By: erica enders racing