Meet Monica Hilton: Formerly of HVM Racing, and the mastermind behind the loveable Pork Chop, Monica is now in charge of PR for Bryan Herta Autosport as they embark on their first full season of IndyCar competition with Alex Tagliani in the Barracuda Networks #98. She is also the founder and owner of 242MPH (Marketing & PR by Hilton).
Q: First off, how is life a Bryan Herta Autosport?
MH: Ohhhh man, life is GOOD. And busy, which I love. Honestly, I can’t believe how lucky I am to be working with this team, now officially called “Team Barracuda – BHA.” There’s a consistent air of excitement and you can genuinely see how proud everyone is to be part of a cohesive, fun and dedicated group. On top of that, you have Bryan Herta and Steve Newey, who are such great guys. I’m so impressed by the integrity and hearing a team owner take the time to say, “Thank you. You’re doing a great job” on a regular basis to the whole team. It’s… magical.
Q: What led you to become involved in the IndyCar series?
I attended my first Indy 500 in 2005 and I honestly only went to check it off my proverbial bucket list. I got the invite from my dad, who grew up in Indiana and has attended every Indy 500 since he was 18 years old. At the time, I was living in Wisconsin and had held various marketing/PR/advertising positions, but then I heard those magical words: “Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!” From that moment, I knew that this was the direction I wanted for my life. I can’t really explain it. I’ve really enjoyed a variety of sports in my life, but there’s a certain passion for IndyCar that can’t be matched. So I packed up and moved to Indy. The journey, once I got here, is a whole different story. Better told over a cocktail, I’d say.
Q: You were previously at HVM Racing and the woman behind the viral celebrity Dallara, Porkchop (and Janet prior to her untimely demise at Indy). How did the idea develop to give the cars a personality and lives of their own?
MH: That is a darn good question. And one which I am no longer legally able to discuss. Seriously. But let’s just say that I truly appreciate all the support last year and hope everyone had some fun. Honestly, I kind of miss that car.
Q: You are actively involved in Racing for Cancer and the IndyCar Calendar. Tell us a little about that and how everyone can get involved and stay up-to-date on both?
MH: I’m so proud to be involved with both of these great causes. I’ve been working with David (producer of the IndyCar calendar) for several years now – he’s a great business man with a passion for IndyCar who decided to do something good for racing-related charities. So he created this AMAZING calendar (designed by IZOD) and all of the proceeds benefit Racing For Cancer, Racing For Kids and Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation. Fans can purchase them online at www.UMPonline.com/calendar. There’s also a twitter account, @INDYCARcalendar, and facebook page: www.facebook.com/INDYCARcalendar.
Racing For Cancer is a fairly new organization (founded in 2010), but they’re here with a mighty plan: to fight cancer. CEO Tom Vossman is extremely dedicated and has a focus this year on fighting pediatric cancer. We’re working on a great event that will take place in Indy during the month of May. Stay tuned for details and check out www.RacingForCancer.org in the meantime. You can also follow @RacingForCancer and “like” www.facebook.com/RacingForCancer.
Q: You also are quite the entrepreneur as founder and owner of 242MPH (Marketing & PR by Hilton). Tell us about that endeavor.
MH: I love it when a plan comes together. (*soap opera laugh*) I’m actually amazed with how well everything worked out with the business. I knew I loved doing race-team PR, but also wanted the chance to make a difference with a charitable organization. What started with a “think outside the box” moment lead to something incredible and I’m so thankful for all three of the clients who have given me an opportunity to show them what I can do.
Q: Obviously, most of your time is spent at or around the racetrack or shop. What are some activities that you enjoy in your free time?
MH: I’d say my free time, although scarce, is a good mix of relaxing and socializing. An ideal night would be a great dinner out with friends (and wine!) followed by a hockey game (go Canucks!) I’m also into fitness and just completed week three of P90X. Insanity is next. As Tony Horton would say, “I hate it. But I love it.” I’m also a HUGE animal lover – dogs especially – so I’m hoping to volunteer this year with the Humane Society.
Q: What would you say to a race fan, or someone with just a slight curiosity in motorsports, that has never been to an IndyCar event?
MH: Two pieces of advice:
- Go. To. The. Race. The best way to experience an IndyCar race is in person. There’s absolutely nothing like hearing (and feeling) the roar of the engines and seeing how fast those cars really go. Once you go, you’ll be hooked. And once you’re hooked, please also watch on TV because we need the ratings.
- Go with a die-hard fan. I’ve always said that racing isn’t fun if you’re just watching cars go around in circles. Same with any sport – you have to have someone to root for. If you go with someone who knows the storylines and can answer your questions, it’s a much more exciting experience. Or come find me in the paddock. I’ll help you out.
Ok, now for the lightening round:
Hamburger or Hotdog? I want to say hamburger, but it feels like the wrong demographic for that.
Thoughts on glitter? LOVE.
High heels or flats? Heels. Because heels make me smile. And a smile is the best thing you can wear.
Ugliest car ever made… It’s a toss-up between my first car (brown Delta 88) and a Smart car. Or what’s that Scion thing that looks like a box?
Pajama pants should only be worn in public when… Your house burned down & you happened to be wearing them when it happened.
Britney Spears or Madonna? Gotta go with Britney. You’re welcome, Ross.
Biggest pet peeve? Negativity. It is REALLY hard to hang around “glass half empty” kind of people.
What’s one song you sing the loudest to when you are in your car alone? ONE?! I rock a great mix of everything from Lady Gaga to Air Supply. And I can’t even sing.
Q: Finally, is there anything you’d like to tell our readers or discuss that you never get a chance to mention or are asked about?