Hey Everyone! My name is Chelsea Reichard and I was an intern with Larsen Motorsports for the vast majority of my Undergraduate Career (~4 years). During my freshman year (2014-2015) the Larsens brought all of their dragsters to campus and displayed them in the pantherium and around the nearby area. I can clearly remember looking at the friend I was with and telling him I was going to intern with them, he obviously looked at me like I was crazy. Later that night I called my Dad and told him the same thing, but at the time, he had no idea that I have literally never spoken to them. Later in the semester there were flyers all around campus, including in my dorm hall to come meet the women of Larsen Motorsports; so needless to say I did. Elaine spoke about the team and their race family and introduced everyone who came with them, and Chris did his presentation on what it takes to build a race team and how each and everyone of us could be an asset with all of our different majors. Once the presentation was over I was one of the very last people in the room, I walked up to Elaine and introduced myself, told her about growing up at the race track and mentioned being taught how to weld by my father (thinking that was going to persuade her to hire me as an intern). I told her that if she allows it, she will be seeing a lot of me at the shop. We communicated through email throughout the summer since I went back home to New York, and when I got back in August I started showing up and helping with anything that I could. This is where I met Zach Costello, he was another student who just kept showing up with me. We emptied pods, built shelving, painted, sorted hardware for HOURS; but in the end, we became the interns.
Throughout the 4 years at Larsen Motorsports, I was one of the only interns to make full circle throughout the shop/business. I started as a normal intern, doing whatever was asked, sweeping floors, assisting with manufacturing, CADing, documenting, etc. With time, trust and experience was gained and they assigned car chief positions. This means that before the cars leave the shop, the car chief was responsible for ensuring that the car, truck and trailer were all race ready, if anything was missing it was our responsibility. By the end of this semester, I was responsible for almost all of the teams. Each week my first and most vital task was to inspect each car and stock the trailers.
The next role I played was manufacturing and engine repair, with the help of Zach Costello and Jake Elliot we built the entire stock of afterburners and started on the jig using precision engineering of the new Generation 6 Chassis. Not too long after Andrew Larsen was teaching me about 'de-airplaning' the engines as they came in, we replaced blades, and turbine cases, and removed all unnecessary components for Jet Racing applications and everything else.
Moving into my final undergraduate year, I expressed to Elaine that I would really love to start working outside of the shop and inside the office in order to learn more about the business side of the company and to no surprise, she agreed that it would be a viable experience. I began to play with photoshop and edit videos, I assisted in the organization of the Festival of Fire, and managed the merchandise trailer (it was basically my baby). Although my degree is in Engineering, one of the most valuable lessons taught to me by the Larsens is that every invention and design is famous and successful because of the business that went along with it.
Fast forwarding a few years of working with the team, I was able to land myself the Chief Engineer position of my capstone project, the Formula SAE team, and a year after I became President of the Society of Automotive Engineers at Florida Tech. My internship at Larsen Motorsports was critical to me landing these positions and taught me more than I could have imagined. These would not have been possible with out everyone associated with the Larsen Motorsports team. I think it's really important to mention here that without the Larsens, there is a very large chance I may have dropped out of school. As classes became more difficult and life became stressful, this race shop was my escape, it reminded me of the bigger picture, it truly fed my passion.
So where am I today? Today I sit at my new internship before I start work writing this and thinking how grateful I am for everything. In 4 months I will have completed my Masters Degree in Flight Test Engineering and in 5 months I will begin my professional career as a Mechanical Equipment Design Engineer for Northrop Grumman. I guess you could say that Larsen Motorsports has helped me become the person I am today, maybe just a little.