SPEEDWAY — Purdue University is helping students land careers in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
"My first job in racing was a little less than a year ago, and it was like, instantly fell in love with it. And then this opportunity popped up, and it's been awesome ever since," Purdue-Indy graduate Sean Larson said.
An opportunity of a lifetime, Purdue is opening doors for students to explore the pathway to employment for the Indianapolis 500.
“I’ve always been into cars," said Larson. An interest Larson never imagined would spark a new career.
"For a while, I was pretty hard-set on working at a manufacturing, like Chevy or BMW, their street cars," said Larson.
Five years later, that master plan was re-directed down a new path, in motorsports.
"I did the mechanical and motorsports dual major," said Larson.
The Illinois native studied at Purdue in Indianapolis, the only motorsports engineering undergraduate program in the country.
"Since day 1, I was like, 'Oh, I like the math and stuff like that. Integrating it with all the cars and racing and all that,” said Larson.
Purdue-Indy’s connections with the motorsport industry allowed Sean, Zachary Nelson, and Max Ohl an internship opportunity with IndyCar teams, allowing them to jumpstart their careers.
"It's been a dream come true, to be completely honest," said Larson.
Sean was hired following his internship and is currently a data acquisition engineer for Rahal Letterman Lanigan racing, a job secured way before he even graduated.
"I interviewed with Rahal, and it’s been history since. I started early December, part-time throughout the semester, and since I graduated a week ago, it's been full-time every day, and it’s been awesome," said Larson.
Zachary and Max graduate in December from Purdue with a mechanical engineering degree. They are well on their way to making noise in the motorsport industry by interning with Juncos Hollinger Racing.
"It's a huge step up for me from what I was doing. I'm learning every day. It's a rollercoaster. Some days you think you know things, and some days you realize you know absolutely nothing," said Nelson.
“To be this close to the racing capital of the world and to be able to partner with a great team and a great university like this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Ohl.
A foot in doors allows students to live out their motorsport dreams. So when you're watching this year's greatest spectacle in racing:
Remember Sean, Zachary, and Max, the shining stars behind the wheel.
“Challenging yourself like that and pushing yourself to your limits is definitely how you achieve your dreams and keep moving forward in life," said Larson.
You noticed we mentioned Purdue in Indianapolis. That's because Purdue University and Indiana University are in the process of splitting "IUPUI" by fall 2024, an expansion of Purdue’s West Lafayette campus to Indy.