Over the last 10 years the billion dollar motorsports industry has spawned dozens of motorsports related schools and programs. All of them sell a chance at a career in NASCAR, but some have more success actually doing it than others.
Perhaps one of the most prominent and well advertised NASCAR schools is Universal Technical Institute’s NASCAR Technical Insitute. NTI is based in Mooresville, North Carolina, the heart of motorsports in the Charlotte area. The school offers several different programs that are primarily geared toward general auto mechanics. In addition they do basic motorsports engine and setup courses. Also offered is a “pit crew” class of sorts, but they never actually do live stops, which is not at all helpful. On the website for the school they do no actually give a price for tuition, but it can up to $37,000. This is about the cost of attending a state university for four years. While they do claim to have a 96% hire rate these are positions with car dealerships and garages, not in NASCAR. I have heard the percentage for people who actually get hired by teams right out of the school is in the low single digits. With the amount of experience they provide, you could probably go to an ARCA or Hooters Pro Cup team and offer your services for free and they would give all the knowledge needed. While the odds of getting hired right out of the school are not very good, there are certainly people that went to the school that work in the sport. Right away the best option is going to be a position in one of the many lower (non-NASCAR) series that exist. No matter what, it is going to take some time and a lot of networking to build towards that larger position.
Another option is for those who want to be a member of a pit crew. PIT Crew U is a training school for wanna be jackmen, tire changers, carriers and gasmen. It is also based in Mooresville, North Carolina, across the street from the NASCAR Technical Institute. It is owned by Jeff Hammond and Tom DeLoach (they also own Red Horse Racing). It is an eight week program that focuses on technique and the skills necessary to perform over the wall. Students are provided the opportunity to do many live stops throughout their time there. The staff at the PIT school is very experienced in the sport, with many of the coaches working with big name teams as coaches for their programs. At the end of the eight week program students may be selected to participate in 5 Off 5 On. They work with these students to match them with ARCA, Hooters, Truck and Busch deals. The success rate is pretty good with the program. Former students are with teams at every level in the sport including the cup series. Tution is between three and four thousand dollars. Just like anything though it takes a lot of work and dedication. This also takes some amount of athleticism. If a student wants to be a tire changer for instance, they need a lot of agility, so weight and size is absolutely a concern. The coaches will guide students to where they think they will be best, but ultimately it is up to the student to decide where they want to be and that could affect them for the future. As far as placement afterwards it is what a student makes of it.
A couple of other options in the pit crew school department are Driver Support Team (DST) and Athletic Training Concepts (ACT). Both have a lot of deals with teams throughout all levels and provide some level of training. The cost of these programs differ and I honestly can not give a firm figure, however they serve more as a placement service than as a school.
For those not wanting to go over the wall or work in the shop there are a lot of motorsports programs developing at universities within North Carolina. Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, North Carolina has one of the newer motorsports management programs. Students are placed into the business school, and taught some of the basics of the motorsports industry. A cool thing about this program is that they require their students to have three internships in and around the sport. This is obviously going to be an asset for future employment. Winston-Salem State University also has a motorsports management program. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has a motorsports engineering program that teaches students all the levels of that trade in the sport. A cool thing about this program is that they actually operate their own race teams and compete in local series. It is great first hand experience. If a four year program is not for you, there are many community colleges now offering associate degrees in various aspects of motorsports. It is hard to say how successful any of these programs actually are at placing individuals. They are all very new, but certainly provide something that is unique.
Overall it really does not matter which road you decide to travel. It is going to take a lot of hard work and chances are you are not going to start out working for a large team. The numerous lower series offer a great stepping stone, but remember the money starting out is not going to be good. Instant gratfication does not exist within this industry and just like anything it takes time and effort. This is where you decide how much you really want to do this.
The next post in the series will be available on Thursday.
This is the second in the So You Want to Work in NASCAR series. Please remember if you would like some advice, feel free to email either T.C. or myself. While we do want to give you the tools to find a job, we will not be serving as references or giving out information on open positions we know about. In other words we will not find you a job.