Saturday, May 10, 2008

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Navy Recruiting

So, let's actually write about the roundtable, instead of my silliness.

Capt. Jack Hanzlik was brought on board to talk to us about a Navy recruiting effort that involves NASCAR.

Navy Announces New National Dale Jr. Recruiting Program
Story Number: NNS080425-14Release Date: 4/25/2008 1:30:00 PM
From Navy Motorsports Public Affairs
TALLADEGA, Ala. (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy and NASCAR's five-time most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., announced April 25 the formation of the Dale Jr. Division, an 88-person boot camp division at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill.
Potential Sailors will be able to start signing up for the division, May 24, at their local recruiting station.

At first I saw this as the Navy simply taking advantage of the popularity of NASCAR with young boys. Not a bad idea, but a superficial one. I will confess once again that before this I knew *nothing* about NASCAR. However, like the other Blogger's Roundtable I wrote about, I did some research. I was surprised to find that NASCAR is a gender neutral sport (ok - another confession - I have a hard time calling it a sport, baseball is a sport).

Jack Holt asked the first question to get us rolling and Capt. Hanzlik outlined the plan. I had covered this territory in my research and I had given some thought to what I wanted to know. So here was my question:
Well, recently the CNO spoke about diversity. And I believe the quote
was, "When the nation looks at the Navy, it should see itself reflected back. How are you incorporating that motive into this campaign?"

Capt. Hanzlik responded directly and extensively -

"Well, I think NASCAR has had the reputation of being more of a male-dominant, white-attracted or Caucasian-attracted type of sport if you will. We're finding that that demographic has changed substantially."
He went on to explain that while minorities were not substantially represented in NASCAR at this time, it was changing.

Then he explained about the Navy's Fleet Honoree program. Which was interesting in and of itself particularly his example of the Sailors from the USS Lake Erie.

But it was later in conversation in response to a question from Lt. Cragg that Capt. Hanzlik really answered it well.

CAPT. HANZLIK: Yeah, yeah. Well, I'll tell you. I am a relatively newcomer to NASCAR as a motorsport. And the thing that captured me absolutely, first and foremost, when I came to my very first race last year and had the opportunity to stand in the pits was that, first of all, you had men and women working side by side. And I was absolutely impressed to see the gal that designs and builds and tweaks the whole shock system for Brad Keselowski's number 88 car was a female. Young gal, I mean -- and could not be smarter. I mean, just knew so much about the technology that went into that and the equipment that she was using to measure those things, I was absolutely impressed. Very similar to the type of things that I saw -- I'm a former aviator before I became a public affairs officer. The same thing I'd see in a jet engine mechanic shop onboard the courier. You could walk down there. You'd see a young gal working on, you know, a turbine system, and that was very encouraging to me. I was very impressed by that. Then you step into high optempo where, you know, the car comes into the
pit and you've got a team that's trying to change tires, clean a windshield, fuel the car, get the driver a, you know, quick drink of whatever; ask whatever, you know, things need to be tweaked, in a matter of less than 15 seconds. And they're doing that with, you know, very, very -- they've each mastered their skills. And then they master the communication aspect of doing their work that they have to do.
And again I'm going to go back to my aviation experience. But my time on the flight deck of a carrier, I watched men and women who were, you know, very, very competent in what they did. They had to master their skills to move those aircraft around the flight deck, launch them from the flight deck.

Here are links to two other blogs on this topic, Jeff Kouba at "Peace Like a River" & Lt. Jennifer Cragg at Military News

I found the program really interesting and I'm glad I participated. Thanks for the invitation, Jack.
the Goddess of the Navy Blogging Strike Group

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