IUPUI student's drive takes her to Brickyard as race engineer for Jeff Gordon
Courtesy of Hendrick Motorsports View print-quality image
July 27, 2012
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Ask anyone who knows Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis student Stephanie Borchelt, and they’ll tell you she’s got drive. Drive, and the engineering smarts to help NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon battle for his fifth Brickyard 400 win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.
“We’ve been very impressed with what Stephanie has done,” said Brian Whitesell, team manager for Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 5 and No. 24 Chevrolets. “As an intern, she’s had the confidence to fit in and get to work very quickly to contribute to the team.”
This is Borchelt’s second season with the Hendrick Motorsports team. Through connections made by the Motorsports Engineering program at IUPUI, she first secured an internship with Hendrick from June through December 2011. Throughout those months, she had a full workload designing, testing and creating parts used on each of Hendrick Motorsports’ four cars.
Borchelt has continued her work at Hendrick Motorsports headquarters in Concord, N.C., this summer as part of the team’s vehicle engineering group. In addition to reverse engineering components, conducting in-shop testing and creating end-of-test reports, she has also been assigned special projects and will work as one of three race engineers for Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet in four races, including the famed Brickyard 400.
“Stephanie is incredibly focused,” adds David Kapp, manager of vehicle engineering with Hendrick. “She is not at Hendrick Motorsports to be a fan. She really is here because she is passionate about the sport and wants to solve problems. When she shows up to work each day, she shows up with a purpose: She’s a member of the team, has a job to do, and stays on it.”
A small-town girl from Trafalgar, Ind., Borchelt fell in love with racing at early age. Since then, she’s done everything in her power to find an in-road with NASCAR – and specifically with Hendrick Motorsports.
This led her to the Motorsports Engineering program at IUPUI – the only university in the nation to offer a full B.S. degree in motorsports engineering. It was at IUPUI – less than five miles from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where the Brickyard is run – that she made a life-altering deal with Assistant Dean Terri Talbert-Hatch.
“When I first met her as a high school student, she asked what she needed to do to work for Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports,” explained Talbert-Hatch. “I told her, ‘You do everything you need to do, and we’ll do everything we can do to get our foot in the door.’ She did everything: earned great grades, interned with Vance & Hines after her freshman year and led our first Formula SAE team as president. She did everything, and then some.”
“I never would be here if it wasn’t for IUPUI,” Borchelt said. “Terri and I worked really hard for two years to make this happen. Now that I’m here, my classes have been an integral part of making me productive.”
“On the other side of the equation,” she added, “my time at Hendrick has helped me take a whole new stance on my education to realize what’s most important, and what I need to do to be a step ahead. And, being an intern, I get pulled into projects from so many angles that I end up knowing more about the project. You can really help out the team if you pay attention.”
Her dream job? “I’d love to be a crew chief in NASCAR. Why not shoot for the stars?”