The Prowler

It’s not where you start, but where you finish

NASCAR Director of Racing Communications Matt Humphrey heads back to college

Director+of+Racing+Communications+Matt+Humphrey+carts+Monster+Energy+NASCAR+Cup+Series+driver+Martin+Truex+Jr.+and+girlfriend+Sherry+Pollex+around+the+race+track.+In+being+in+charge+of+at-track+communications%2C+Humphrey+will+spend+time+with+the+drivers%2C+as+well+as+the+journalists+to+ensure+that+everything+gets+done+as+it+should.
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It’s not where you start, but where you finish

Director of Racing Communications Matt Humphrey carts Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. and girlfriend Sherry Pollex around the race track. In being in charge of at-track communications, Humphrey will spend time with the drivers, as well as the journalists to ensure that everything gets done as it should.

Director of Racing Communications Matt Humphrey carts Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. and girlfriend Sherry Pollex around the race track. In being in charge of at-track communications, Humphrey will spend time with the drivers, as well as the journalists to ensure that everything gets done as it should.

Courtesy of Matt Humphrey

Director of Racing Communications Matt Humphrey carts Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. and girlfriend Sherry Pollex around the race track. In being in charge of at-track communications, Humphrey will spend time with the drivers, as well as the journalists to ensure that everything gets done as it should.

Courtesy of Matt Humphrey

Courtesy of Matt Humphrey

Director of Racing Communications Matt Humphrey carts Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. and girlfriend Sherry Pollex around the race track. In being in charge of at-track communications, Humphrey will spend time with the drivers, as well as the journalists to ensure that everything gets done as it should.

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Everyone is told that a four-year college degree is the only way to be successful, and without education it is hard to hit your dreams. NASCAR’s Director of Racing Communications out of Daytona Matt Humphrey is proving that this is not always the case. After a 25-year hiatus, Humphrey has returned to college to finish earning a degree.

If I can’t be at home with my wife and dog, I want to be at the racetrack and work alongside the men and women who make this sport go around.”

— NASCAR Director of Racing Communications Matt Humphrey

Despite not having a college degree, Humphrey is in charge of at-race communications for NASCAR. He oversees media relations and makes sure that various media personnel have all of the access that they need to do their jobs on race weekends. On certain weekends, Humphrey is responsible for local market outreach, and tries to draw in local media.

I enjoy being at the racetrack,” Humphrey said. “There is an energy there that can’t be replicated at any other place on earth. If I can’t be at home with my wife and dog, I want to be at the racetrack and work alongside the men and women who make this sport go around.”

However, his path to NASCAR’s front office in Daytona Beach, Florida, has had more twists and turns than the newly introduced Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

Humphrey was at Mount Vernon Nazarene University studying music on a scholarship, and he was with his girlfriend there. Six months into college, his girlfriend was pregnant, forcing Humphrey to make a decision. He dropped out of college and got a job at a sewage plant in Fredricktown, Ohio.

His first child was born in October of 1993. Thirteen months later, Humphrey’s second child was born. Both of Humphrey’s kids experienced problems at birth with their pancreas.

Courtesy of Matt Humphrey
Director of Racing Communications Matt Humphrey plays on stage with the Pit Road Pickers. One of Humphrey’s biggest concerns in going back to college was time. He was afraid that with everything that he did, either he would have to quit something or not finish his school work.

“It was called failure to thrive they grew to be about 20 pounds then they would start losing weight so they had to have a lot of medical attention, had medical bills pile up and so I needed to get a second job just to make ends meet,” Humphrey said. “So I looked in the newspaper, that was back when you could pick up a newspaper, you had to pick up a daily newspaper and look at the want ads.”

The first want ad that Humphrey saw was from the Mount Vernon News in Ohio. The paper wanted someone to work at night answering phones, and reporting scores from the games that were happening that night. He decided to take the job, and drive to Mount Vernon from Fredricktown after finishing at the sewage plant.

A week into working the desk, the sports editor of the paper Tom Wilson asked Humphrey if he would want to go cover a football game. He took the opportunity and wrote a story about a game between the Clearfork Colts and the Lexington Minutemen. This was his first step into journalism.

“I remember that moment like it was yesterday. It was the Clearfork Colts out of Bellville, Ohio, the game was in Bellville, Ohio, versus the Lexington Minutemen,” Humphrey said. “It was a Friday night and Clearfork won the game. They had a quarterback by the name of Lance Dill. Long story short, I loved it.”

Humphrey worked for Mount Vernon News until he got a new job in Saint Joseph, Missouri. He worked with that newspaper until his publisher introduced him to someone that he knew at NASCAR. Humphrey started to write stories about NASCAR, and he started a NASCAR page.

After that, he took a job in Lincoln, Nebraska, at the Lincoln Star Journal. He was the assistant sports editor for design for 14 months. In the fall of 2005, Humphrey moved to Orlando where he started his own NASCAR blog. Six years later NASCAR approached him and offered him a job.

Build relationships. You’ll be amazed to learn how powerful those relationships will become down the road. They’ll lead to great opportunities and provide you with solid mentors who can help you navigate a better path.”

— NASCAR Director of Racing Communications Matt Humphrey

“So why did I decide to go back [to college]?” Humphrey said. “Because I always thought it was something on the table. I’ve always taught myself things, but I really want to be able to go back and say I completed my college degree and I figured I owed it to myself to do it.”

Humphrey is now earning an associate’s degree from Eastern Florida State College. He hopes to transfer to the University of Central Florida to get a degree in International Studies. He plans to stay with NASCAR until he retires, and hopes that his degree will allow him to reach a more global audience that NASCAR is beginning to obtain.

“NASCAR has a global footprint,” Humphrey said. “In addition to the series you enjoy in the United States, we also have the NASCAR Peak Mexico Series, the NASCAR Pinty’s Series in Canada and the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. That footprint will only grow in the years ahead and the skills I acquire in pursuit of this degree can only help those efforts.”

Humphrey has been able to achieve so much without a college education, and showed that college education does not determine the rest of a person’s life. Kids are pushed at such a young age to know exactly what they are doing, but sometimes life doesn’t go the course one plans. Sometimes that plan comes together 25 years later.

“For young kids getting ready for college? Find a career that you love and pursue it with all of your heart,” Humphrey said. “Be laser focused. When you find something that fits that category, reach out to people in that career field for advice. Build relationships. You’ll be amazed to learn how powerful those relationships will become down the road. They’ll lead to great opportunities and provide you with solid mentors who can help you navigate a better path.”

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