Indy Winner’s Circle: IUPUI Sports Management Students Take Home Top Prize


Ashley Eggert and Kevin Feller know the business side of sports. The two IUPUI sports management seniors in the School of Health & Human Sciences competed on April 1 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse during Indy’s first Sport Business Conference. They brought home first place in the undergraduate student poster competition highlighting their innovative solutions for fans and participants at Lucas Oil Raceway.


Eggert and Feller discovered that during events, race fans were taking hospitality business elsewhere, staying in nearby hotels and pulling money away from the park. The duo conducted a contextual inquiry and used their findings to develop a strategy intended to increase fan satisfaction, loyalty, and raceway revenue.

Simple solutions such as on-site generators, enhanced space design, visual signage, and marketing—ideas provided by Eggert and Feller— will help Lucas Oil Raceway continue its trek to become a top racing fan destination.

“Framing the capstone class with human-centered design allows students like Kevin and Ashley to move beyond traditional academic thinking and bring an innovative and fresh perspectives to contemporary business problems in sports,” said David Pierce, Ph.D., IUPUI’s Sport Innovation Institute director and associate professor in the tourism, event, and sport management department.

Beyond taking home the top poster prize, Eggert and Feller took advantage of opportunities to network with industry professionals and connect with prospective employers including professional sports, collegiate athletics, and other related industries. All of this, says Pierce, is the reason why sports management students choose to come to Indianapolis.

“That’s what our program is all about—working with sports organizations and solving problems that present winning opportunities for all,” Pierce said. He noted that students receive real-word, career-building experience while sport organizations gain high-impact insights and ideas at a low cost.

“Indy is where it’s at,” Pierce noted. “Where else in Indiana do you have access to professional sports teams, collegiate athletics headquarters, amateur sports headquarters, and world-class events? This is the advantage our students have—Indy is our classroom.”

Students in Dr. David Pierce's, Director of the Sports Innovation Institute, P432 - Senior Capstone course are currently working with our industry partner at Lucas Oil Raceway in Clermont, Indiana.

Description of the video:

David Pierce, Ph.D.: I’m David Pierce, I’m the associate Professor of Sport Management and the Director of the IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute.

Kasey Coler: I’m Kasey Coler, General Manager of Lucas Oil Raceway, Vice President of Track Operations for the National Hotrod Association, the NHRA.

Pierce: Kasey Coler approached me in December of last year and he had some questions on how the Sports Innovation Institute could really help innovate the racer and fan experience here at Lucas Oil Raceway, and really setting up a great context for students to be able to do empathy research by interviewing and observing participants and racers here on site. It really puts the students in a really good spot to innovate creative solutions.

Coler: For a facility that’s been around for close to 70 years, we look at what’s the future of this place, and we certainly recognize that that – a lot of it has to do with what’s on track, but we also recognize as there’s an evolution to motor sports and to creature comforts that we’re all used to, be it at a large sporting event or stadium, or at your local golf course. These are the things that have to evolve and for us, this is something that we look at kind of providing as the trial and kind of the test case that we’re able to roll out to our future facilities.

Pierce: So Kasey took us up into the media center and so the student’s got a bird’s-eye view of the entire property. He really just talked about the history and the context of the NHRA and also Lucas Oil Raceway, then we started to hone into the specific types of events that the students are going to come out and do their research with. And we actually got to walk out then on a tour and really get out on the property and get a sense of the research context the students will be grappling with all semester.

Brandon Dillman: So in the classroom, you know, you’re listening to the professor lecture, you’re reading out of a textbook, doing problems, going over worksheets. Out here in the field, you’re actually, you know, hands on, you know, talking to people who are in this field and talking to people who participate in events in this field and are willing to talk to you and try and figure out problems and solutions.

Coler: So I think through the conversations and learning a little bit more about the opportunities with IUPUI and sports marketing program, and then understanding some of the opportunities here at Lucas Oil Raceway, that’s where we’re able to come together and put this project together for this semester.