Fast Track to Success
Image via Didier Attipou
By: Brodric Houston, Staff Writer
Like most college seniors, Minnesota native Didier Attipou was already thinking about life after graduation during the winter of his junior year. Little did he know that a conversation with a Morehouse alum would put him on a fast track to a position with NASCAR.
Realizing that he would not continue playing football after college, he knew he still wanted to be involved in sports. The business major reached out to his marketing professor about different internship possibilities.
Taking advantage of the Morehouse network, the professor put Attipou in contact with one of her former students and who provided him with multiple internship opportunities. One of those turned out to be a chance to participate in the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program.
Attipou wasn’t optimistic about the NASCAR option.
“Initially I was caught off guard because I didn’t really think NASCAR was accepting to my demographic,” he said.
Then he decided it wouldn’t hurt so he took a chance, did some research on NASCAR and the program, and decided to apply. After several rounds of interviews, Attipou was in class when he got the call that he had been accepted into the program as a summer intern.
It’s been a whirlwind honestly, you know in orientation weekend in Charlotte, we got to tour the office. That weekend I was really converted to being a NASCAR fan and a fan of motorsports in general, he said.
After leaving Charlotte, Attipou headed to Daytona, Florida where he spent the rest of the 10-week program. He wasted no time learning about the thrill of NASCAR.
“When I came to Daytona on my very first day I got to go to the track itself and did a hot lap. So, I got into one of the pace cars and the driver was going 120, 130 around the track so I got a little bit of a taste of what it’s like for the drivers to race,” he said. “That was an experience like no other.”
Off the track, Attipou focused on his role interning in the finance department. Similar to the speedway, things moved pretty fast in the office with working in different sectors of finance each week to get exposure in each position and the day-to-day expectation.
“Probably one of my favorite things was financial planning and analysis because that was when I had to look at budgets for different companies. I actually got to lead a meeting with myself, one of the FPNA managers, and one of the communications managers.”
Attipou said he’s more confident about African Americans becoming more involved in NASCAR and definitely plans to share his experience when he returns to campus.
Kayah Shamapande- Scarboro is the commercial communication coordinator for NASCAR. She helped lead the program Attipou was a part of.
“Attipou has remained ambitious and hard-working by being an active member of the Make-A-Play foundation and becoming a mentor to younger children as he navigates through his own journey,” she said.
He hopes to bring about more awareness to this program and encourage others to consider opportunities in motorsports.
Copy Edited by: Auzzy Byrdsell, Editor in Chief