Engines revving, tires screeching, fans cheering.
These are the sights and sounds that fill the air on race day at the Sebring International Raceway in south-central, Florida. But for one of Cultural Vistas’ Train USA interns, Canadian Tiffany Lodder, racing is about more than fast cars and loud motors. It’s about developing relationships and giving back to the community. For Tiffany, racing is a passion on which she is building her career.
Tiffany has been a fan of motorsports since her childhood. She recalls watching the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 with her father, an avid stock car racer who initially inspired her passion for motors and speed.
As Tiffany grew up and started a family, her passion for racing took a proverbial backseat, but as her children got older, she joined the Porsche Club of America, which reignited her passion for racing. “I caught the racing bug again,” she said.
From smaller races near her home in Brighton, Ontario to Daytona, Tiffany followed the circuit. She traveled to races throughout Canada and the United States and began building relationships within the racing community. Her father had dreamed of getting to see the Daytona 500 in person, and Tiffany was finally able to live out his dream. But she didn’t stop there.
Building on these experiences, Tiffany and her husband Diezel started a business, TLMotorsports. In order to further develop her business skill set, she returned to school to pursue a post-graduate certificate from Loyalist College in Sports and Entertainment Sales and Marketing.
Seeking a real-world experience in the racing industry, Tiffany pursued an internship with Sebring Raceway that would take her all the way from Brighton to the “The City on the Circle” in sunny Sebring, Florida. The short-term move was worth it for a chance to gain hands-on experience in the field at one of the oldest continuously-operating race tracks in the United States. For more than 60 years, Sebring has hosted 12 Hours of Sebring, one of the country’s most prestigious endurance races.
Apart from getting an insider’s view of one America’s most well-known racetracks, Tiffany has expanded her network and established relationships with drivers, crews, promoters, and fans from all over the world. In her own words, “You can’t build a relationship while sitting in an office.” She has certainly made the most of the many opportunities throughout her internship to step out of the office, onto the track and into the paddock.
“The person who drives the truck is just as important as the racecar driver,” she explained, noting that for her, it is important to cultivate relationships with all members of a team.
“She wants to make motorsports viral,” said Wayne Estes, President and General Manager of the Sebring International Raceway, of Tiffany’s contagious passion for racing. While interning at Sebring has afforded Tiffany a chance to work with events on a larger scale, she has contributed a lot to culture and environment of the Sebring Raceway.
She is particularly committed to making a great experience for fans, drawing from her own history as a motorsports fan to connect with the thousands of guests that visit Sebring Raceway every year. Wayne says that he doesn’t think of Tiffany primarily as an intern, but rather as a race fan. He says that she really “understands the fan experience,” and has contributed many ideas that impact guests in a significant way.
Tiffany’s passion for racing goes beyond the race track. She also uses it as a way to give back. Along with her husband, Diezel, a veteran who served for 34 years in the Canadian Army, Tiffany is actively involved with the British-based charity Mission Motorsport, an organization that serves wounded veterans and assists with their recovery, providing opportunities to regain confidence and learn new career skills through motorsports.
— TLMotorsports (@TLMotorsports) February 24, 2017
By combining her experience as a military wife, the business knowledge she gained through her studies, and the network she has built through her internship, Tiffany hopes to start her own charity to better serve the needs of Canadian and American wounded veterans.
“It won’t be easy,” she said, “but I’ve made a few contacts here at Sebring, and I’ve learned a great deal about inside workings that I never would’ve had the opportunity to [learn] in Canada.”
She says that her increased knowledge of the racing industry and how to run a business will prove invaluable as she establishes her own organization to serve those who have served their countries.
From the stands, to the racetrack, to the office, Tiffany Lodder harnessed her passion and experience as a fan in order to grow her career in the motorsports industry.
Beyond her professional goals, she is using her new skills to find ways to better serve veterans in the community. And her internship with the Sebring Raceway helps to keep both her career and her charitable ambitions moving forward, at full speed.
— TLMotorsports (@TLMotorsports) April 13, 2017
Hosting at Cultural Vistas takes many forms, from our generous host families to the companies that welcome international interns like Tiffany into their workplace through the J-1 Visa. If you have a story about how hosting impacted your life, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow along with the series at #WhyHostingMatters.