Hispanic Lifestyle is pleased to recognize Chevrolet Racing’s Program Manager for NASCAR Cup Alba Colon as a 2017 Latina of Influence. Ms. Colon along with our entire list of 2017 Latinas of Influence are invited to participate in Hispanic Lifestyle’s 2017 Latina Conference taking place April 5 – 6, 2017 in Ontario, California.
About the video interview . . . Hispanic Lifestyle spoke with Ms. Colon in Detroit, Michigan during the 2017 North American International Auto show. We talked about being a Latina in a male dominated industry and the growing numbers of Latinos/Latinas watching NASCAR races.
Although NASCAR had for many years been male-oriented, the sport has changed dramatically in recent times. Today, women comprise 40 percent of NASCAR’s fan base of 75 million Americans. Females, along with minorities, are being given unprecedented opportunities to not only to drive for NASCAR teams, but to work on their crews as mechanics and engineers. As well as fill other important jobs in the sport such as running tracks and race teams and helping broadcast the events on television.
One of today’s powerful women in the sport is Alba Colon, named Chevrolet Racing’s Program Manager for NASCAR Cup racing in 2001. She is the only top female engineer in the sport of NASCAR racing. Colon, born Alba Lynnette Colon Rodriguez in 1968 in Salamanca, Spain, moved with her family to Puerto Rico at the age of three. Her father, a doctor, and mother, a teacher, always encouraged Alba and her sister and brother to be the best they could be. They were very supportive parents and Colon credits them for much of her success as a professional.
In truth, she didn’t always want to work with race cars. She wanted to be part of something even bigger and faster. She wanted to be an astronaut and work for NASA. Her heroine was Sally Ride and it was Ride who inspired Colon’s interest in math and science and led her to pursue an engineering degree at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus. But her fate was ultimately decided in 1991 when she was asked to work on the Formula SAE program, where she, as team captain, built race cars from the ground up and exhibited them at events held at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan.
General Motors hired her three years later in 1994. Colon’s first assignment for GM was as data acquisition engineer for the Oval Track Group (NASCAR Sprint Cup, Craftsman Truck, Busch, and ASA). In 1998 she was named NHRA Pro Stock Truck program manager and in 2000 Colon was placed in charge of all of GM Racing’s NHRA drag-racing programs, including Funny Car, Top Fuel Dragster, Pro Stock, Pro Stock Truck and Sportsman series.
The following year (2001), Colon found herself working on GM’s most visible racing program, the NASCAR Cup series. Working on a daily basis with some of the best teams, drivers and owners in NASCAR’s premier division is indeed a challenge, but Colon is up to the task.
Today’s NASCAR teams have some of the most sophisticated tooling machines in existence, and rely on engineers to find the couple hundredths of a second that make the difference between winning a race and finishing 20th. It is no longer a closed shop for men only. Women and minorities have equal opportunity.
Under Colon’s charge, Chevrolet has amassed 263 race wins, 10 driver’s championships (2001, ’05, ’06, 07, ’08, ’09, ’10,’11, ’13 & ‘14), and 14 Manufacturers’ Cup awards (2001, ’03, ’04, ’05, ’06, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12, ’13, ‘14 & ‘15) through the 2015 season.
“I think racing will continue to embrace talent in whatever package it comes in,” said Colon. “Issues of equality still need champions and still need to be advanced in our society, but I do think it’s better now than it has ever been. It’s important to be an agent of change as well. I do feel a responsibility to help and encourage other women to achieve their dreams, but that is something I truly enjoy doing.”
AWARDS, MEMBERSHIPS, ACTIVITIES:
2016: Women Who Spark Award presented by Intel
2015: DAPCEP Real McCoy Award – Excellence in Engineering
2015: Honored as one of Business Insider Magazine’s 23 of the Most Powerful
Women Engineers in the World
2014: NPRC Leadership Medal – National Puerto Rican Coalition, Washington, D.C.
2014: Industry Ambassador Award – NASCAR Diversity Affairs
2011: Distinguished Alumni Award – University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus
2010: Lyn St. James Women’s in the Winner Circle Foundation – C&R Women in
Engineering Award (First Recipient)
2008: Distinguished Alumni Award – University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus
2007: Honored as one of Hispanic Business Magazine’s 20 Elite Women
2005: SAE Edward N. Cole – Distinguished Younger Member Award – Detroit
2004: Trailblazer Award, Association for Diversity in Motorsports
2003: Women Looking Ahead Magazine Award
University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez, Lead Talent Scout
Formula SAE/Formula Hybrid Competitions, Lead Talent Scout
Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Recruiter
University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez
College of Engineering, Industry Advisor Board Member (2008 – present)
Mechanical Engineering Department, Industry Advisory Board Member (2008 – present)
Comite Deportivo de Univision Deportes, Member (2014 – present)
Pink and Blue for Two Organization, Leadership Board (2013 – present)
U.S. ARMY Educational Program, Speaker (2009 – 2012)
NASCAR Diversity Program, Member & Speaker
Member of SAE International
SAE International Board of Directors – Director (2014 – 15 – 16)
Membership Services Board – Member (2012 – present), Chair (2012 – present, Young Professionals/Students Subgroup)
Engineering Education Board – Member (2004 – ’06, ‘12 – present), Vice Chair (’07 – ’08), Chair (2009), Past Chair (2010)
Formula SAE Competition – Competitor, Volunteer, Organizer, Judge General Motors Company Representative (1991 – present)
SAE Foundation – Women’s Giving Circle Steering Committee (2010 – present), Chair (2011 – present)
Colon is also a speaker at various universities, motorsports promotions, engineering seminars, women in engineering activities, STEM related activities, inner city youth activities and more.
Colon has also been featured in numerous media pieces including: ESPN E-60, CNN Money, NBC Charlotte, FOX Sports 1, Telemundo, Univision, USA Today Business, RACER Magazine, AutoWeek, Black Enterprise Magazine, Vanidades and many more.
Ms. Colon was nominated by Margarita Bauza