‘Women in racing — behind the scenes’
Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part feature on women who work at Champion Speedway.
Managing track operations at Champion Speedway has to be entrusted to a person who is organized, has good rapport with the business community and most of all, a good rapport with the drivers and race fans.
Kris Martin, a petite woman at the age of 49, has the gusto and commitment of a linebacker. She is the woman behind operations at Champion Speedway.
Former food and beverage manager of the Silver Legacy in Reno, Martin smiles and takes a deep breath as she describes her job duties.
“Oh, my word,” she says with a blank stare.
“What do I do? Well, pretty much oversee all operations, which include: make sure cashiers are set; all vehicles are operating; all communications are working; scoreboard is up; set the evening’s race schedule with Competition Director Tom Nodzak; be sure support crews are on hand — emergency medical technicians and Warren Engine Company; account for all personnel; do trophy presentations; welcome all drivers in the pits and visiting drivers to Carson City, and invite them back; public relations; marketing and advertising; oversee maintenance; arrange for a vocalist for the National Anthem, and be in constant radio contact with everyone throughout the evening to ensure scheduled events are taking place on time.
“Gosh, is that everything? Oh, and set up the VIP patio for our special guests and sponsors.”
An awful lot of work for about five hours of family entertainment. Martin’s husband, Jim, financial advisor for the track, last year asked his wife if she would help out with the track. They have one son.
“With my hospitality background, he knew I would work hard for Henry (Hodges Jr.) and Jim (Bawden) to promote the track, and, give drivers the needed respect and consideration they deserve.”
Martin has worked diligently at obtaining sponsorship for the track. She’s most interested in the local businesses being recognized for their contributions.
“It’s the local businesses who have supported us throughout the season. It’s been great. And we’ve got to thank the fans, too.
“I truly respect and enjoy working with the drivers and their crews and all the staff at the track. They make it a fun and enjoyable experience and we all work well together.”
As a mom, Martin said racing is one of the best activities for families. She said it is one of the most affordable ways for a family to have fun.
“This has been a great learning experience for me,” said Martin. “We want to rediscover racing in Carson City. We want to make sure our fans know we’ve come a long way from T-Car days. The cars are different, racing is faster and we have a great venue. A lot to offer on a timely basis.”
Martin said she has always been a fan of racing — NASCAR, NHRA. She also said she has weekly meetings with other officials and gets much support from them.
“It encourages me to keep going and strive harder.”
In case of emergency at Champion Speedway, it’s not always necessary to dial 9-1-1. Joy Evans is one of two emergency medical technicians at the track, on duty and ready for action.
“I got my EMT training six years ago,” said Evans, who is events manager for the Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“I got my EMS certification through Western Nevada Community College. All on my own.”
Evans joined the Jacks Valley Volunteer Fire Department after being certified. While working as an EMT and fire department volunteer, she was asked if she would provide medical care, if needed, at racing events at Champion Speedway.
“Me and my son, Eric Hanks, are the only two providing care at the track. We give an initial evaluation and prepare for transport, if needed. Our job is to stabilize the patient. And we’ve not had to transport anyone while on my duty. I’m proud of that.
“Drivers do get their bells rung now and then, but no serious accidents have occurred,” said Evans. “Burns and cuts are the majority of the medical calls we get while on duty.”
Evans, 57, is married to Stew, and has two children and five grandchildren. And in the two years she’s been at the track, she’s realized what a wonderful family event racing is.
“I didn’t realize it is such a family-orientated event. Everybody loves coming to the races. Champion Speedway is a best-kept secret. More families should come out.”