When graduate Dominic Aragon talks about NASCAR racing his eyes light up. The Communication and Journalism major lives hundreds of miles from the nearest NASCAR race track. So how did Aragon get full media accreditation to interview drivers and work around leading reporters in this specialized sport?
Aragón grew up in Grants, N.M. about as far from real NASCAR races as you can get. There is no NASCAR track in the state, and Aragón said there has only been one driver from the state in the last 20 years. But when he was four, he and his brother got a PlayStation 1 for Christmas. It had a NASCAR game and the thrill stayed with him.
“I thought it would be cool to be my own boss on something like this," he said. "So I gave it a shot.".
In 2010, he and some friends started a NASCAR fan website, TheRacingExperts.com. They offered news, wrote editorials, did analysis and sometimes went to races and interviewed drivers. Slowly they began to get noticed.
Meanwhile, Aragón who was attending UNM, decided to major in Communications & Journalism. But his free time was spent thinking about NASCAR. He received a ‘hard card’ from NASCAR, its highest form of media accreditation, and he’s now allowed access to areas where he can more easily interview drivers. He thinks he may be the first NASCAR accredited journalist ever from New Mexico.
“When I’ve had to miss class or something, I just tell them I’m doing stuff with NASCAR journalism. I’m going to be at the track this weekend, and I’ve always gotten positive reception and had a full blessing, even from teachers or instructors not in the C & J department. It’s been really nice to have UNM faculty behind me,” said Aragón.
After graduation, Aragon plans to continue covering NASCAR. “I can’t say too much about it yet, but there’s a new motorsports magazine that will hit shelves later this year. It’s going to be geared here in New Mexico and I’ll be working as the editor-in-chief.”
Aragón had some faculty mentors who encouraged him. Lillian Kelly, a lecturer, and Professor of Practice Michael Marcotte were especially helpful. He’s helping a NASCAR driver write a memoir and has been able to get academic credit for some of the work.
“New Mexico isn’t really a breeding ground for NASCAR, but I think it’s a testament to if you put in a little bit of hard work it doesn’t really matter what part of the country you are living in, said. “It’s just a matter of how much effort you want to put in. I think we are an example of that, because only in America could a small team like us be on the other side of the country to where NASCAR is and still be able to cover it on a consistent basis and break the same stories as the other outlets.”
Aragón says he is thankful that his family has always supported his dream, even though he says they didn’t think it would ever go this far. Now he is ready to embark on a career he created from his contagious enthusiasm for a sport.