Learn from the Way NASCAR Trains with Jay Nadeau

Things can go wrong at NASCAR races. The crowds, parking areas, concessions, all offer opportunities for problems to arise. But despite those risks, NASCAR has established an enviable record of safety for both race patrons and NASCAR employees.

In this episode of Training Unleashed, Evan Hackel speaks with Jay Nadeau, Director of Risk Management and Loss Control for NASCAR, the person who makes everything run safely. 

Many of the training strategies Jay uses can be applied to training in your company too. Let’s take a closer look.

Jay Describes Race Day

“If anybody’s ever gone by a racetrack,” Jay told Evan, “They know it is an empty facility for a good part of the year. And then all of a sudden, the population pops up. There are hundreds, in some cases, thousands of people supporting that event. And for every moving part you have, there’s a potential for injury or accident, and that equates to a loss, whether a personal or financial loss. Safety for any business is always going to be one of the most important priorities.”

Evaluating Success

“Year after year, we look at incidents, which we consider in two buckets,” Jay explains. “First, we want to look at what happens to our employees. And then we look at stuff that happens in our facilities with our guests. Every year, we want those numbers to be less and less.”

NASCAR’s Approach to Training

There are a lot of different roles that people need to be quickly trained to perform. In addition, there are different kinds of people who work the events.

Jay explains, “You’ll have somebody who maybe sells auto parts in his job from Monday through Friday, and then he’s going to run a food concession stand at the track. Well, that person has to be trained. Sales knowledge does not apply to making hamburgers! That’s as simple as I can make it. Without training, things would be chaos, that’s the word I would use.”

How Does Training Work?

In general, training of short-term, seasonal employees starts about two weeks before race day.

“It varies from facility to facility,” Jay told Evan. “Volunteers will come in. They could even be Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, whatever, who want to raise money. They could be helping to park cars or hand out gifts at the gate.

“So the training would be about what the workers are going to do . . . whoever the lead person is, we make sure that they have the proper training or that they have the proper credentialing, and we expect them to pass on what they know to their volunteers. When it comes to concessions, for example, there are food handling requirements, and the training will be in person. For other roles, we might offer an online training course . . .   there is never just one method of training that will work for everyone.”

Training Permanent NASCAR Employees

Jay also points out that NASCAR itself owns 15 racetracks that are located all over the country. So NASCAR has a group of permanent employees who travel to those different facilities. But even though those employees have been trained to do their jobs, they still need to be taught to adjust to the needs of the next facility where they will be working.

“So now you’ve got people who will be working at a different facility,” Jay explains. “But what we’ve learned is prior to those events, we get department heads on a phone call and kind of walk through the whole event again. You can’t have a thousand employees on one phone call, but empowering those department heads to teach their employees and come up with plans they believe are going to be the most effective . . .  it’s a team effort.”

About Our Guest 

Jay Nadeau currently serves as the Director of Risk Management and Loss Control for NASCAR.  After  20 years as a public servant he retired as Battalion Chief from the fire department in  2013. Upon his retirement he assumed the role as the Manger of Emergency services at the Daytona International Speedway “The World Center of Racing”.   After overseeing emergency operations for 6 years he moved to NASCAR Corporate offices in 2019 where he assists in OSHA Compliance, Property Insurance, and all aspects of safety at the various NASCAR owned properties.  During his spare time he enjoys hunting and since 2005 he has instructed new firefighter recruits at Daytona State College.   He is a lifelong resident of central Florida where he lives with his wife and a whole bunch of 4- legged children. (Dogs, Cats and Horses).