Victoria Garcia — Life in the Fast Lane
What began as an internship with NASCAR shortly after graduation put Victoria Garcia,’13, on the track to a full-time job with the organization years later. As a production assistant for the International Broadcasting Department of NASCAR Media Group, Victoria spends her days doing a wide range of jobs, from creating TV pieces in the studio to being on the racetrack talking to drivers and getting video footage on race day.
A Day in the Life
From NASCAR’s headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, Victoria creates pieces for NASCAR University that air on international TV stations and online. She covers topics like the history of Bill Elliott, Tony Stewart, and the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “I create bumps and teases which are brief video clips that play before race day coverage airs live in other countries. I also cover the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, The Pace Lap, NASCAR Xfinity, and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series,” said Victoria.
Victoria spent a quarter of last year’s race season traveling and working race days at the track. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s season did not consist of any travel. Instead, Victoria covered many of the races solo in the control room with an engineer in the other room. “I will not be traveling at all the rest of the season due to safety and show cancellation. I’ll be technical directing by myself while my producer works remotely. That’s a new challenge that carries plenty of stress,” said Victoria.
During last year’s race season, Victoria started highlighting different drivers and asking them fun questions to put together more creative remote pieces. “It gives me the opportunity to form relationships with the drivers, and it has helped me to create more pieces,” said Victoria. She also gets B-roll race day content, which are video clips without audio.
On typical race days, Victoria fills a variety of roles. She mainly works as the producer, but on occasion she oversees the technical aspects of production and controls the graphics, audio, and video sources. As a producer, her department has about two hours to create video highlights and race notes to send to global news outlets. These 52-minute, 15-minute, and five-minute pieces air in several hundred countries.
“The day is so busy that if you blink you miss something. I’m constantly taking notes to supplement the video pieces we send out. Essentially I’m crafting these pieces in my mind and calculating 52 minutes worth of content throughout the race,” she explained.
Early Broadcasting Opportunities
Victoria’s love for television began at a young age, but she never imagined she would end up in sports broadcasting. She originally planned to study broadcast meteorology and become a weather reporter, which led her to enroll as a broadcasting major at Southeastern in 2009.
Southeastern gave Victoria her first taste of the broadcasting world. “Me, Kristen Ledlow, ’10, Rebecca Vargas, ’12, and some other broadcasting students helped start a show at SEU called 96 News. I was the weather girl for two years. We treated it like a live show but would edit it and then send it out to be aired to the Polk County area on PGTV. It was the first show to air outside of SEU,” said Victoria.
Her classmates and professors became like her family, and she still keeps in touch with them today. “My professors kept me fueled. Knowing the odds and knowing that I was the only girl in some of my classes, I felt so intimidated. They gave me the support I was lacking and helped build my confidence. They were my positive fuel, helping and teaching me for hours after class,” said Victoria.
Her start with NASCAR came right after graduation when Victoria moved to North Carolina for a three-month internship in their production/broadcasting department through the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program.
“I found out that I got the internship exactly seven days before graduating, and I moved up to Charlotte right after graduation.”
Victoria did a lot of video and production work during her internship. She even worked directly with executives in the broadcasting, production, and digital departments who let her sit in on meetings.
“They would ask for my input on things and test my skills by giving me projects like telling a story in 15 seconds. Gradually I began to have more and more responsibilities that looked similar to the full-time producers,” said Victoria.
By the end of her internship, she had made a 30-minute video piece for Mike Helton — at the time, the president of NASCAR — for an important event he was attending. He is now the vice chairman of NASCAR. “It was a huge honor,” said Victoria.
In February of 2014, she was awarded the NASCAR Diversity Award. Out of the 25 interns, Victoria was unanimously selected to receive this award.
Freelance Work & God Moments
When she completed her internship there were no job openings at NASCAR, but they helped her make connections which led to freelance work with Fox Sports, ESPN, and NBC Sports. She freelanced with these sports broadcasting companies as a runner, meaning she assisted producers, managed craft services, and did whatever needed to be done on set that day. She also did freelance videography work for MABE Production with SEU alumni Lorraine (Izzo) Mabe, ’88, Steve Griner, ’00, Austin Smith, Greg Chambless, ’09, and Jared Coats, ’12.
After freelancing for about a year, Victoria found a part-time job with the Florida Panthers Foundation and worked events including the 2015 NHL Draft. A full-time producer/editor job opened up with the Panthers and she got the job in September of 2015.
“It was extremely challenging. I was pumping out an average of 15 videos a week,” she explained.
She made features of the players, promotional commercials, sponsorship content, radio spots, web content and more. Victoria even got to create the Stanley Cup Playoffs 2016 opening video which was featured on NHL.com as one of the best playoff videos.
“I loved the players. Getting to know them on a personal level really humanizes them. You see athletes from a totally different perspective than you do as a fan,” said Victoria.
“There is a lot of darkness in the sports broadcasting industry. I was able to interview one of our national anthem singers, who was a young girl. She had such a huge heart for God. I wanted to include the interview in my piece because I felt like it was my moment to show God the glory, and I was able to run it. The girl and her mom were so moved that I kept the parts about God in the video that they were almost in tears. To me, that meant more than anything I did at the Florida Panthers,” said Victoria.
After Victoria left the Panthers she went back to freelancing, but after an accident, she ended up in rehab recovering for six months. “I felt like that time was my lowest of lows. It was the most humbling experience,” she said.
For a few months, she worked in celebrity news as a producer, editor, and writer for Eye on South Florida. Here, she created graphics, filmed, edited and wrote pieces. She also freelanced part time for the Miami Heat.
In 2017, Victoria was freelancing as a runner (assisting producers and videographers) under NBC Sports at a NASCAR race with Mary Leslie, ’18, a friend from Southeastern. Knowing the accident took a physical toll on Victoria, her friend offered to switch jobs with her so she could rest. Victoria ended up scanning cards for lunch and running into an influential NASCAR employee who recognized her immediately and listened to her story.
“He gave me his card and said, ‘Come back home.’”
She emailed him and within less than a month, she was back at NASCAR working as a production assistant.
“It was a total God moment. I didn’t see him at any other point that weekend during the event. If I hadn’t switched jobs with my friend, I never would have reconnected with him,” she said.
Within the next year, Victoria’s responsibilities at NASCAR will grow and she anticipates that she will travel more often during race season when it is safe to do so. As for the future, she aspires to work on late-night television shows.
“This is where God has me right now and I’m open to wherever He calls me to next,” said Victoria.