Penske Profile - Sasha Soares

May 6, 2015

This week, the Penske Profile features Team Penske’s Licensing and Brand Director, Sasha Soares. She has been with Team Penske for over 16 years and has played an integral role in the many successes that the team has realized during this time.

As the Licensing and Brand Director, Soares manages the licensing, graphics, merchandise, retail store, IndyCar merchandise trailer and team apparel for all our NASCAR and IndyCar teams. She also oversees all of the branding and sponsor logos as they relate to merchandise, paint schemes, team uniforms, equipment, advertising and point of sale items for our partners.

In 2015, Team Penske is comprised of two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams, one NASCAR Xfinity Series team, four Verizon IndyCar Series teams and one V8 Supercar Series team. Soares’ position has oversight and responsibility for all of these teams. In her position, she often works directly with team owner Roger Penske, as he regularly makes changes to the designs of car livery, transporters, pit equipment and team uniforms.

Soares’ path to racing is an interesting one. A native of Hamilton, Bermuda, she grew up in Colorado and then went to high-school in Asheville, NC. College brought her closer to the center of stock car racing as she attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising from the Journalism School.

While in college, Soares played Division 1 collegiate women’s soccer and was lucky enough to play with some great players, including Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly. Her team won four ACC Championships and four National Championships and only lost one game over the course of her college career. She says that the training and competition at the Division 1 level was intense. For her, the trophies and championship rings she earned at that time are a symbol of the accomplishments, but the core work ethic and mental toughness that were driven by this elite soccer program prepared her for all aspects of life.  

After college, Soares decided to pursue a career in sports marketing. At the time, Roush Racing was located in Liberty, NC, about 40 minutes from Chapel Hill, and she was able to get her foot in the door for her first job in 1994. She didn’t know much about racing since she did not grow up in the South, but for her it was exciting and fun to be on a competitive sports team.

After spending five years with Roush, Soares joined Team Penske.  Now, having a career in racing that spans over 21 years, she thinks that Team Penske differentiates itself from other teams because there is a certain unspoken rule to work harder, look the best and be the best.

In her time here at Team Penske, Soares has played a vital role in winning two Daytona 500s, an Indianapolis 500 and the overall victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring. She considers winning the 50th Daytona 500 with Ryan Newman in 2008; winning the Indy 500 with Helio Castroneves in 2009, and congratulating Roger Penske on the Championship stage when Brad won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship in 2012 as her career highlights.

Racing is a very challenging and demanding field, when asked what she thought most fans do not realize about life on a race team, she emphasized that the off-season is one of the busiest times of the year with preparing for the next racing season, but “there really is no down time in my department. We start the car design process in late summer, and then all other elements get updated from there. We do hundreds of graphic layouts, approvals and place apparel, decal and merchandise orders so we can be ready for the start of the season.”

For Soares, the most rewarding part of the job is the first race of the season because that is when everything comes together as the team hits the track. She says that when that first green flag drops there is a sense of accomplishment and relief each year. Her biggest challenges are juggling all of the responsibilities of her job as there are so many touch points with the teams, sponsors, and management.

When asked what Team Penske means to her, she says, “it is a privilege to work for Mr. Penske. His professionalism, integrity and work ethic bring a certain quality to every aspect of his business and our team. As a Penske employee, it makes you work harder and want to adhere to those same qualities to make him proud of what you do every day.”

Outside of work, Soares enjoys running, kayaking and spending time with her family. She has been married to her husband, Michael, for nearly 23 years, and they have two teenage boys – Connor 16 and Colton 13. The family resides in Huntersville, NC.