The United States Military Academy at West Point's mission statement is clear: educating, training and inspiring the Corps of Cadets. On Nov. 1, INDYCAR President Jay Frye was honored to support that mission by presenting to a group of engineering cadets at the prestigious institution on the banks of the Hudson River in New York.
Frye represented INDYCAR by leading a discussion with approximately 200 cadets. Some of the most powerful and prestigious U.S. leaders have come through West Point, and Frye knew he could be talking to the next generation of American heroes.
“I understand the magnitude of the people that were participating in the conversation,” Frye said. “These are the future leaders of the country.”
The opportunity came through his daughter, Addy, a first-year cadet who also plays on Army’s volleyball team. One of her teammates is part of the systems and engineering group at West Point, and the idea took off from there.
“Yeah, it was definitely something different," Cadet Riley Hoyes said. "We usually get for our club, we try to reach out to grads who are usually affiliated with some type of military like we had. So, we get a lot of speakers who are part of military-related things. It was honestly a breath of fresh air being able to hear from a civilian side and especially a motorsports speaker as well. It is definitely something different, but super interesting."
Cadet Yohan Lim was equally as impressed. He said it was an extremely humbling experience to have Frye take the time out of his busy schedule to come talk to them.
“It is always surreal to meet and listen to business leaders such as Mr. Frye, who are at the frontlines of their industries,” Lim said.” It was truly an honor to have been in attendance of Mr. Frye’s presentation, providing background into his career and eventual position as the President of INDYCAR, was highly insightful and motivating.”
Frye has made countless presentations during his motorsports career. But this one was unique. It’s not every day someone gets to take part in a tour of the nation’s oldest service academy, established in 1802, let alone lead a discussion and presentation to an entire group of cadets.
“You walk around, and there's just history everywhere,” Frye said. “It's amazing. It's what our country's about.”
There are common threads between West Point and the INDYCAR SERIES -- history and striving for excellence. That’s one of the talking points Frye discussed with the cadets, along with providing a full glimpse of what the NTT INDYCAR SERIES is all about, including its role as a laboratory for engineering excellence.
Also on the agenda was a discussion of all 17 races in the series, the stakeholders, teams, drivers, promoters, broadcast partners, supplier partners and their role in the series.
The cadets were enthralled. In fact, a group of cadets remained in the hallway after Frye’s presentation to talk with him about the series. While the cadets will perform their mandatory military service after graduation from West Point, this discussion could open their eyes to potential opportunities in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES if they choose to transition to civilian careers after service or even while still students at West Point. Frye said he discussed with the cadets building a program that could send some cadets to shadow NTT INDYCAR SERIES teams.
“Oh, absolutely,” Cadet Hoyes said of that potential. “I've been on a few internships through West Point and I think it would be fascinating to see a different side of system engineering as well as being able to see the different types of stakeholders and all the things that you deal with on a day to day basis and how do you juggle that to optimize your company. I think it'd be really cool to work for INDYCAR with a system engineering background.”
Another special aspect of this presentation was Frye leaving his personalized INDYCAR Challenge Coins for the cadets.
The Challenge Coins are a longtime military tradition and something Frye was introduced to when the U.S. Army partnered with his MB2 Motorsports team in the NASCAR Cup Series.
“Yeah, that was very special,” Cadet Hoyes said of the coins. “Not a lot of speakers bring things for the audience. We always give little savors for guests, but it was cool being able to be on the receiving end and something so unique that we're not going to find anywhere else. So yeah, I was very appreciative and really cool that he was able to do that.”
Cadet Lim agreed.
“It was incredibly generous of Mr. Frye to leave behind coins,” he said. “Something we will forever be thankful for as a club. Being able to shake Mr. Frye’s hand and receive a coin was a special moment for me as it was the first time a guest speaker shook everyone’s hand on top of the gift of coins. Challenge coins hold a special meaning in the military, and the coin I received from Mr. Frye will stay with me for the rest of my career.”
Frye admired the tradition’s history and what it stands for. He brought the idea with him when he started with INDYCAR in 2013. Although there have been several designs, all have included, “MSH/GSD,” an acronym for “Make Stuff Happen, Get Stuff Done.”
“We can't thank all our service members enough for what they do to allow us to do what we do,” Frye said. “It was an honor.”