Graduate creating exciting fan experiences at Indy Motor Speedway

Sep 18, 2013

Rhonda Winter '81 currently serves as Chief Information Officer for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indianapolis 500 race.

Rhonda Winter ’81 is challenging the traditional notion of fan experiences by utilizing technology and communications to enhance engagement at live sporting events.

Winter currently serves as Chief Information Officer for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indianapolis 500 race. In this capacity, Winter is responsible for developing and implementing the information technology (IT) strategic direction, and IT services that support the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar racing series.

Rhonda Winter ’81“Here at the race track, with the race fans, we are trying to develop concepts to transform the delivery of information and experiences in a format that is irresistible for fans,” Winter said. “Technology enables our team to share information with fans and build communities of common interest.”

Winter is leading a complete technology innovation in an attempt to deeper engage fans in conversation and experience at the track. Recently, Winter’s team led an award-winning advertisement campaign that geo-mapped and followed fans on their journey from their hometowns to the Indy 500 (Indy 500 or BUST!). 

“What I love is finding innovative ways to engage people in their day-to-day lives and the partnerships that come from that engagement,” Winter said.

Prior to her work at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Winter introduced and leveraged technology for community engagement at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Partnering with the Indiana University Pervasive Technology Lab,  Winter helped develop a three-dimensional interface that allowed users of the museum to virtually experience and interact with the art.

“What was really remarkable and fun was to watch kids come out of the 3-D virtual experience and apply that new knowledge in the moment they saw the artifact in the traditional museum setting,” Winter said.

Before embarking on technological advances, Winter followed in the footsteps of her father Don Robinson ’56 by attending Kettering University. Winter majored in Industrial Administration, completed her co-op at Detroit Diesel Allison, received a masters degree from Purdue University and invested 12 additional years at General Motors in positions ranging from manager of spare parts inventory to corporate auditor.

“I’m often grateful for the skills that I learned at Kettering and GM,” Winter said. “Most significant is deadline-driven project management. When team projects had short deadlines and challenging results to deliver, there was no grace period from the professors. Success certainly stems from respect for deadlines and careful investment of budgets.”

Winter has taught technology adjunct at Kelley School of Business at IUPUI and is currently the president of the Society for Information Management. As an advocate for women in science and technology fields, Winter also sits on the board of Indiana’s Women and Hi Tech organization where she is attempting to drive women to purse education and professional development in STEM positions. 

Winter believes that the absence of seeing solid relationships between the impact of the subject matter and our social ecosystem is deterring women from pursuing a STEM education. 

“Tying technology to problem resolution and then sharing the impact on people, communities and opportunities created by the technology is critically important for everyone working in the technology fields,” Winter said. “We know that women look for a meaningful relationship in their work and we have to find ways for those solving the problems to see the results from their success.”

The relationships that Winter developed throughout her professional career are also key contributors to her past accomplishments and ongoing success.  

“The advice that I learned from my experience at Kettering where we came from a variety of backgrounds was – surround yourself with really smart people, many of whom who you have nothing in common with. Be willing to think out loud with them and great things came from that. I learned to expect a lot from others and myself at Kettering.”