by Evie Somogyi, marketing intern and senior marketing student, Mike Cottrell College of Business

The University of North Georgia is home to a variety of talent. During the college journey, many students stumble upon their hidden talents and passions. Kelley Drobinski, a junior marketing major at the Mike Cottrell College of Business, recently discovered her passion.

Kelley pulls ahead in a recent race.

Kelley pulls ahead in a recent race.

During Kelley’s freshman year at North Georgia, she began working at the Atlanta Motorsports Park in Dawsonville. In February of 2016, Kelley was asked to help out during a race. While Kelley has always loved cars and motorcycles, being so close to the action really sparked her interest in racing. She wanted to learn more about the race cars, driving techniques and strategies. That spring, Kelley learned to drive a manual transmission. She did a lot of practice runs on a racing simulator and finally took some practice laps in a friend’s race car in full racing safety gear.

In July of 2016, it was time to help out at another race. However, this time was a little different. The race was at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, and the team even offered to let her drive the race car during part of the race. She was very reluctant to say yes at first, but after some persuasion from the team, Kelley decided to call her mom and ask her what she thought about it. She viewed this as a great opportunity for Kelley. The day after Kelley’s final exam in Accounting 2102, her mom drove her to the Charlotte for her first race.

Kelley smiling after her first race.

The photo taken after Kelley’s first race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Kelley was nervous; she was set to drive first. Her teammates strapped her in, and she was off. After about 10 minutes of racing, she glanced down at the dashboard and saw that she was going 113 mph! She was even passing other drivers! She was in disbelief. When she finally came to the pit stop to switch drivers, her mom took a photo of her and said that she has never seen her so happy. Her friend looked over to the team and said, “See, I told you she could drive!” This was the moment that Kelley realized that she had the best time of her life doing something that she never thought she would do.

After the adrenaline died down, Kelley called her dad and before she could say anything he said, “Well, I guess we’ll be buying a race car.” Soon after that day, they went and bought a 1993 Spec Miata, her first race car.

Through the support of her family, friends, team, and sorority sisters, Kelley was able gain the confidence needed to follow her passion. The opportunities for personal growth in her business classes have allowed Kelley to develop a personal brand that she is proud of.

Marketing textbook online at the racetrack

Kelley working on her marketing homework while at the track.

Going forward, Kelley plans to use the skills that she has learned at UNG to set goals and develop a business and marketing plan in order to gain sponsors and put together a strong, competitive racing team. Kelley explained that marketing is very important in racing because you have different audience groups that you have to maintain relationships with. Meanwhile, marketing your personal brand is vital for success in racing because you have to appeal to fans and sponsors.

Kelley posing in front of her car after a 2nd place finish.

Kelley poses after a 2nd place win at the Atlanta Motorsports Park.

Kelley’s advice to other students is to follow their dreams, despite their preliminary fears. The fear of failure, rejection, and judgement will only hold us back from our dreams. She said that she is living proof that anything can happen. If someone had told Kelley a few years ago where she would be today, she would have laughed. She encourages us to aim for the moon because even if we fail, we could land among the stars.