Drivers. Spotters. Crew chiefs. Pit Crew members. These are all jobs that come to mind when one speaks about NASCAR. Certainly, these folks are on the front lines. This Beyond the Track series will introduce you to a handful of the countless people that play a unique role in bringing NASCAR to the track and TV week in and week out.
Meet Jenni Martin, Director of Partnership Marketing, FRM
Jenni Martin’s parents were “huge Jeff Gordon” fans, but as a young girl, NASCAR was “just cars in circles.” However, as she got older, NASCAR became an outlet for bonding with her father. Along the way, she became a Carl Edwards fan and realized she wanted to work within the industry.
She earned her undergraduate degree in Sports Administration and a Masters in Business while attending Tennessee at Chattanooga. Martin then moved to Charlotte with the hopes of working within NASCAR.
After two years working in the Athletic Department at UNC – Charlotte, she discovered a job listing for a position at Front Row Motorsports. And while not knowing anyone within the sport, she rolled the dice and applied.
Now, four years later, she holds the title of Director of Partnership Marketing at FRM.
“I explain it as anything you can touch”
So, what does a Director of Partnership Marketing do? Martin shared that FRM has two people that work to secure sponsorship with businesses. Once partnerships are finalized, she is responsible for helping design the visual and tangible aspects of the organization. This includes, but is not limited to, working with graphic designers to create paint schemes and hauler wraps. Additional creative aspects include apparel designs for fans, firesuits for drivers and crew members, hero cards, and so much more.
She shared that often a new partner will already have an idea of what they want a paint scheme to look like. In the event they don’t, Martin will turn to the graphic designers their organization works with to create something to share with and impress the new partner.
In addition to her responsibilities in the office, Martin travels with the FRM team approximately 28 weeks during a normal NASCAR season.
When at the track, her role shifts to that of hospitality. With this, she ensures partners and guests are welcomed, comfortable, and able to attend the driver/crew chief meeting and introductions. She also makes sure they have time to meet the drivers prior to the race and have a spot on the team pit boxes during the race.
Often, she will fill in to assist the PR representatives during the race if her duties are lighter from a guest perspective.
Rain Delays & Relationships
Martin laughed and said, “Rain delays!” when asked about the most difficult part of her job. But more seriously, she noted that helping partners figure out what they want the sponsorship-relationship to look like is the most difficult, albeit very fun, aspect of her job.
As she has grown in her position, she has learned to help partners figure out their purpose and, in turn, “try to grow that and utilize our program for what it is that they might not even know they want.”
On the flip side, she said without a doubt the relationships are by far the best part. Because her job takes her all across the country, she has met people from all walks of life – from CEOs to little kids. She shared that meeting so many people and learning their stories has made her realize it’s “a very big world, but at the end of the day, we’re all connected.”
She reminisced meeting former Chattanooga and current Troy University football coach, Davern Williams during one of those difficult rain delays at Bristol. A relationship was formed over a two-hour pit box conversation and continues to this day.
David Ragan’s work with Shriners Hospitals for Children forged a precious relationship between Martin and Travis Carpenter, a young man battling Neurofibromatosis (NF). Carpenter sent Martin an autographed t-shirt for his “End NF” campaign. She exclaimed, “Nobody else has this shirt!”
Martin confided how fortunate she was to have worked with so many class-act drivers over the years.
Her NASCAR tenure began with Texas-native Chris Buescher. She laughed remembering how he would always call her “Ma’am,” even though she was only 26 years old. Landon Cassill was her second driver at FRM, and she noted how he was “just hilarious.”
Martin worked with Ragan for three years and said, “What you see is what you get with him. He is really that nice all the time.”
Currently, this is Martin’s second year with NASCAR Cup Series veteran, Michael McDowell. She laughed and said, “He’s just so goofy and funny, and so kind.”
Although he had a shortened season in 2019, she had only nice things to say about Matt Tifft. She recollected, “He was very fun to be around, so easy to talk to and get to know.”
And now, as Cup Series rookie, John Hunter Nemechek has joined the FRM stable, Martin seemed to repeat herself as she said, “He’s so nice and everybody likes him.”
In closing, she encouraged fans to not be timid about asking crew members questions about the cars and their inner workings. She reinforced this comment, saying, “Yes, it’s their place of business, but if people are respectful, these guys are awesome!”
Jenni Martin invited readers and fans to follow her on Twitter, so click over and follow along!
I want to extend a huge thank you to Jenni Martin for being willing to contribute to our Beyond the Track series. I hope our readers enjoyed learning about her role at FRM. If you see her at the track, be sure to say hello!