The Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) hosts the largest single-day sporting event of the year. The pageantry surrounding the Indianapolis 500 celebrates some of motorsports’ oldest traditions while immersing fans in some of the most innovative manufacturing and technology feats in all of racing.

This balancing act of honoring ritual while bridging to the future of sport is precisely how our talent strategies must continue evolving. In the fast-paced world of motorsports, where split-second decisions and technological advancements drive success, it is crucial for employers to embrace a transformative shift in hiring practices.

IMS, INDYCAR, and IMS Productions all sit under the umbrella of Penske Entertainment, whose talent needs vary just about as much as the fans you see at the Speedway throughout the month of May. More traditional sports and entertainment responsibilities include security, hospitality, concessions, and event operations. Penske Entertainment is also a home for careers in Human Resources, legal, finance, technology, engineering, marketing, and social media.

Still, there is also a great need for skilled and trade workers in construction, transportation, manufacturing and landscaping, and even horticulture. To compete for talented workers, some coming from across the country, new strategies are needed to look at skills and qualifications differently, bring in a more diverse applicant pool, and meet potential hires where they are in terms of experience and their digital job search.

The application rate for technical jobs, like electrician, dropped by 49% between 2020 and 2022, and the niche skills often required to work within the motorsports industry require some upskilling or workplace training. Historically, brand recognition of a global name like Penske has provided no shortage of applicants. But the talent competition for quality, specific skill sets has heightened, and thus, new approaches are needed.

As an employer in an industry that honors tradition and innovation in every sense, we must ensure we are taking a fresh and innovative approach with our talent strategy. Tools like Indy Partnership’s Regional Skills Analysis help us understand and validate the skills in high demand and where gaps may exist. We can use this information to inform our learning and development efforts, recruiting strategies, and enhance our diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging (DEIAB) work.

By broadening our scope beyond traditional ideals and requirements of what a “qualified” candidate looks like, Penske Entertainment aims to close the gap within many current industry recruiting practices. This perspective change allows us to engage with a uniquely qualified and increasingly diverse talent pool. One area of focus for Race for Equality and Change, Penske Entertainment’s overarching diversity, equity, inclusion, access, and belonging initiative, is recruiting and developing a diverse workforce. Over 40% of hires across the organization in 2022 were diverse with respect to race, ethnicity, and gender. Additionally, Penske Entertainment’s Diverse Leadership in Motorsports Program (DLMP) provides unique and enriching opportunities to ethnically diverse college students hoping to secure full-time employment in the sports and entertainment industries after graduation. DLMP, alongside the longstanding College Program, are two workplace training and development pipelines helping build and retain a strong motorsports workforce in Central Indiana.

People know the Penske and Indianapolis Motor Speedway brands as synonymous with the Indianapolis 500. But people might not know we’re an employer of choice in the state and that the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and IMS Productions are a large and vital part of creating opportunity here. The grandeur surrounding the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” has given Penske Entertainment a fundamental advantage in attracting candidates. Still, we’re not waving the yellow caution flag but flooring it toward the green flag, ushering us forward to a more revolutionary future of hiring.

Skills-based hiring allows employers to tap into a wider talent pool, fostering diversity and inclusion. It also enables individuals to showcase their relevant skills beyond their educational background, increasing opportunities for career advancement and reducing barriers to entry. This paradigm shift not only fuels our collective growth but also ensures that we cultivate a vibrant and inclusive workforce that showcases opportunity in our industry and reflects our diverse community.

Story Continues Below