Dave Alpern, BA Communication ’91, is one of the longest tenured sports executives in NASCAR. Alpern is currently the president of Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), an American professional stock car racing organization in North Carolina.
When Alpern started at Mason he expected to become an engineer but quickly realized that path did not match his skillset. He then switched his major to communication and planned to become a sportscaster. However, plans would change yet again, and his career ultimately took another path. Alpern now volunteers his time speaking with college students about changing course.
“Students often get stressed out because they don’t have everything figured out or have the perfect plan,” he says. “I’m a great example to show that your life will still turn out okay... what matters is to make the most of every opportunity. If there’s a crack in a door, go in.”
This unscripted path is exactly where Alpern found himself after graduation. He joined JGR in 1992 as an unpaid intern and his office was a modified broom closet. Whenever he was asked to help, he helped, and soon became an indispensable part of the team.
JGR has since grown from 15 employees to more than 500, and Alpern offers a peek behind the scenes to reveal the complexity of running a racing company. They make 95 percent of the parts that go into the cars they construct, they have 40 full time engineers, two airplanes which each require dedicated pilot mechanics and flight attendants and they do their own marketing and corporate communications on behalf of their sponsors. They also employ journalists, social media experts, and human resources professionals. Alpern’s role is to keep all these areas moving together for JGR, and he attributes communication as being the key to their success.
Alpern is the author of Taking the Lead: Winning Business Principles That Fuel Joe Gibbs Racing, published in June 2021. The book shares his path with JGR, including a difficult personal loss he experienced in connection to his career. All proceeds from the book support the JD Gibbs Legacy Fund.
Alpern met his wife, alumna Stacey Alpern, BA Psychology ’92, during a class in Harris Theatre, and together they have three sons. He enjoys traveling with his family, skiing, surfing, and is an avid sports fan.
Published in the CHSS annual report 2020-21.