College of Business and Economics

Final lap: Completing a BBA online while fulfilling a NASCAR dream

July 27, 2017

Written by Dana Krems 

The College of Business and Economics offers its AACSB-accredited Bachelor of Business Administration degree 100 percent online. With rigorous curriculum, award-winning faculty specifically trained in online teaching, value-driven tuition, and engaging online platform, we can help you reach your goals with a program that fits your life. Learn how to complete your BBA degree online today.

Greg Ebert was just 12 credits away from earning his undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater when he got the chance of a lifetime to pursue his love of NASCAR racing.

Greg has fond memories of UW-Whitewater, where he pursued a Bachelor of Administration in general management at the College of Business and Economics. He formed lifelong friendships living in the Knilans residence hall and later sharing an apartment with nine other young men. He also worked as a Resident Adviser, went to football games and was even on homecoming court.

But one of his longtime friends got a job with Roush Fenway Racing, and during his senior year, Greg had the chance to interview for a travel mechanic position with the company's NASCAR truck team in Michigan.

When he got the call offering him the job, he was torn.

He explained, "I felt like I had to go for it, but it was an extremely difficult conversation with my parents. They had been paying half my tuition, and at first, they told me I couldn't quit."

Greg's brother, Brian, intervened, however. Their father had owned a race car, and racing had been a family affair. Greg worked on Nathan Haseleu's Late Model team and crisscrossed the state on the short track circuit as well. Brian cautioned his parents that they would be cheating the whole family out of a dream.

In the end, Greg's parents gave him their reluctant blessing with one caveat: he had to promise to eventually finish his degree.

To ensure he could keep that promise, he worked with UW-Whitewater administration and advising to fully understand his status and what would happen with his credits. He finished out the semester, packed his belongings and moved to Michigan to start a new life.

The next eight-and-a-half years sped by. He lived in Michigan for two years, until the truck team moved to North Carolina. He followed them south to stay in truck racing for two more years, enjoying his first big national wins with the team. He switched to one of the Roush Fenway cup racing teams in 2005. By the end of that year, he was promoted to car chief, or lead mechanic, and stayed in that position until the end of 2009.

Greg and Roush Fenway Racing parted ways in 2009; however, Roush Fenway helped Greg get a job with Richard Petty Motorsports. He was with Richard Petty Motorsports through the end of 2016.

But at the end of 2009, in the gap between working for Roush Fenway Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports, Greg had gone home to spend Christmas in North Carolina with his wife, Chelsie, and 11-month-old son, Brady. Chelsie asked him what he was going to do when he was done with racing, and reminded him of his promise to finish his degree.

Taking Chelsie's words to heart, Greg called the UW-Whitewater admissions office early in January 2010. They helped him enroll in the online BBA program before the spring semester began.

He eased in by taking one class at a time, but after a nearly nine-year hiatus, it was still an adjustment.

He admitted, "Finishing my degree with 50 to 70-hour work weeks, a brutal travel schedule, and a one-year-old at home was probably a bigger challenge than I'd expected. It took a lot of discipline and time management to make it work."

Greg completed his credit requirements and graduated on May 18, 2011, to the delight of his wife and parents.

Greg has been working for the Richard Childress Racing team as a car chief since January 2017.

Though he has not worked in a traditional setting, he has applied his business education in his career. The team is run as a business, and Greg is responsible for managing people, time and other resources.

He explained, "I'm in charge of the other four or five guys that work on the car. It's my responsibility to teach people and guide them while making sure projects get done in timely fashion."

There is a lot on the line if the car is not ready to race.

"It's a huge responsibility as a car chief," he said. "Between equipment costs, travel costs, sponsorships and prize money, there might be a half-million to a million dollars at stake for one team on one race weekend."

Reflecting on the last 16 years, Greg has no regrets that he pursued his dream when he had the chance, but he is also glad that the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater offers an excellent online undergraduate program so that he could finish his degree and keep his promise to his parents.

"It's never too late," he urged. "The UW-Whitewater online program is easy to navigate and it's user-friendly. The professors are really great when you have questions. They're prompt and responsive to emails. If you can't get back to campus, you can still finish your degree."

Learn how to reach your goals with the online bachelor's programs available through UW-Whitewater Online.