Students consider NASCAR careers

By Bill Colvard - bcolvard@MtAiryNews.com
Terry Spencer, at the front wheel, and Devin Cowan, at the rear wheel, embrace their inner pit crew and try to remove the NASCAR vehicle’s lug nuts as quickly as possible. - Bill Colvard | The News
Mario Pennycooke talks to a group of North Surry students. - Bill Colvard | The News
Mario Pennycooke, left of the bike, and Brandon Jones and David Holder, right of the bike, take a look at a Kawasaki 250 as Pennycooke revs it up. - Bill Colvard | The News
Marcus Church makes an adjustment on Universal Technical Institute’s NASCAR car. - - Bill Colvard | The News
North Surry students take a look under the hood. - - Bill Colvard | The News
Brandon Jones (front wheel) and Trevor Marsh (rear wheel) compete to see who can get the lug nuts off first in a simulated pit stop. - - Bill Colvard | The News

It’s not every school’s admissions team that brings along a NASCAR-style vehicle on a recruitment visit, but that’s exactly what happened at North Surry High School on Thursday.

Universal Technical Institute’s admissions representative Brad Mecham and marketing manager Mario Pennycooke set up a couple of tents, a trailer, a racing motorcycle and a NASCAR racer in back of the school near the football field, where Pennycooke broke the news to students that if they wanted to be automotive technicians, they’d better be listening up in their STEM classed. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Pennycooke told the students that at his school, NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, they wouldn’t be taking literature or composition classes.

“This is a hands-on career, and that doesn’t help you fix a vehicle,” he said. “But you will be using concepts from your STEM classes.”

He explained to the group of fourth period students — mostly boys and a few girls — that STEM has always been a part of technician trades, but technology is making it more and more so.

He gave a few examples of the way technology has revolutionized the automotive field. Newer cars do data-logging, and some have cameras that take photos in the event of a crash, a feature he said would be on all new cars before long.

“So if you crash your car, it could actually snitch on you. Don’t think no one is watching. Your car is watching,” Pennycooke warned the students.

He then told the students that the automotive business needed people who were good with information.

“Racing teams need people who are not just good with screwdrivers and wrenches but with computers.”

As Pennycooke neared the end of his talk, some of the students had drifted over to the demonstration NASCAR car beside his tent.

“They want to be in front when he takes volunteers to change the tires,” said North Surry’s construction technician teacher, Chuck Hiatt.

Word had gotten out from previous groups who had attended the presentation earlier in the day.

“We’ve had a big crowd all day,” said Hiatt.

It’s not as easy as it looks. Some of the students struggled with the wheels. Others didn’t seem comfortable with letting the lug nuts fly through the air. But they all seemed to enjoy the experience.

Brandon Jones, who is the son of racer Bobby Jones, and David Holder, who is a lawn mower racer, as well as Trevor Marsh, said that NASCAR Technical Institute was on their radar for when they graduate from North Surry.

All three said they want to be able to work on cars and build motors, both regular passenger cars and high-performance ones. After Thursday’s presentation, they were still very interested in attending the Mooresville school.

David Holder said, “I want to tear them down and then build them back up.”

Terry Spencer, at the front wheel, and Devin Cowan, at the rear wheel, embrace their inner pit crew and try to remove the NASCAR vehicle’s lug nuts as quickly as possible.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_IMG_1985.jpgTerry Spencer, at the front wheel, and Devin Cowan, at the rear wheel, embrace their inner pit crew and try to remove the NASCAR vehicle’s lug nuts as quickly as possible. Bill Colvard | The News

Mario Pennycooke talks to a group of North Surry students.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_IMG_1906.jpgMario Pennycooke talks to a group of North Surry students. Bill Colvard | The News

Mario Pennycooke, left of the bike, and Brandon Jones and David Holder, right of the bike, take a look at a Kawasaki 250 as Pennycooke revs it up.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_IMG_1939.jpgMario Pennycooke, left of the bike, and Brandon Jones and David Holder, right of the bike, take a look at a Kawasaki 250 as Pennycooke revs it up. Bill Colvard | The News

Marcus Church makes an adjustment on Universal Technical Institute’s NASCAR car.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_IMG_1928.jpgMarcus Church makes an adjustment on Universal Technical Institute’s NASCAR car. Bill Colvard | The News

North Surry students take a look under the hood.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_IMG_1951.jpgNorth Surry students take a look under the hood. Bill Colvard | The News

Brandon Jones (front wheel) and Trevor Marsh (rear wheel) compete to see who can get the lug nuts off first in a simulated pit stop.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_IMG_1973.jpgBrandon Jones (front wheel) and Trevor Marsh (rear wheel) compete to see who can get the lug nuts off first in a simulated pit stop. Bill Colvard | The News

By Bill Colvard

bcolvard@MtAiryNews.com

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.