NASCAR Tech Graduate Christopher Smith Paves the Way for a New Dream in His Hometown


For as long as he can remember, NASCAR Tech graduate Christopher Smith has loved the smell of race fuel, watching NASCAR and Dale Earnhardt Sr.

He had his sights set on becoming a part of the racing world — a childhood dream that sprung from his family’s passion for working on cars.

“I really liked watching NASCAR and I aspired to be in racing somehow, anyway I could,” Christopher says. However, his path as a NASCAR Technical Institute graduate took him down a different, more fulfilling road, one that led right back home.1

See how his NASCAR dreams evolved into a steady, reputable career in his hometown that allowed him to plant his own family roots. 

Driven by a Family Passion

Growing up in Michigan, Christopher was always surrounded by family who loved cars and racing.

Both of his grandfathers worked in the automotive field while in the military. His uncle is known in Michigan for building roll cages and dragsters. And his dad has been a “shade-tree mechanic” for most of his life.

“We’ve always had stuff to play with and stuff to work on. At a young age, we were really big into tinkering with things,” Christopher says.

“As long as it burned gas, we were messing with it,” he says, laughing.

Connecting With a Community

It wasn’t until 2003 that he began to envision a future at NASCAR Tech. That was the year his family moved to Statesville, North Carolina, when Christopher was a junior in high school.

“They have a huge automotive program: the Iredell-Statesville Schools Automotive Technology Center. It’s a really big deal down here,” he says of his new high school.

“When I walked into the doors there, I see trophies all over the walls and they say that they do competitions for scholarship programs. That’s how I was introduced to NASCAR Tech,” Christopher says.

Winning a Full Ride

The Iredell-Statesville Center hosts state and national competitions for students to compete for scholarships at a variety of automotive technical schools, including NASCAR Tech.

Christopher was up for the challenge, focused on winning as much scholarship funding as his talents would allow.

“Me and my buddy, Joe, were teamed up in a Ford/AAA competition. We actually went next door to NASCAR Tech, at the pit training facility, and they put on a troubleshooting competition for automotive,” he says.

“We won, and that’s what got us the full ride to actually go to NASCAR Technical Institute,” he recalls about the state competition.10

Christopher graduated high school in 2005 then immediately began his training at NASCAR Tech in Mooresville, North Carolina, just 45 minutes from home.

The Starting Line of a Career

Set with his scholarship, Christopher just needed to make enough money for gas and food. He received an offer to work at Randy Marion Chevrolet of Statesville, a local dealership, part-time while he attended NASCAR Tech.

“When I got the opportunity, I thought, ‘yes, sir.’ At least it’s a summer job, a chance to get my foot in the door,” he says.

Christopher started with the basics, learning in the Automotive Technology program at school and performing oil changes and tire rotations at work. As he increased his knowledge while training at NASCAR Tech, his reputation at the dealership also grew. That was especially true in electrical, which initially had been a struggle for him.

“Electrical was a huge thing that NASCAR Tech helped with. I learned and took it all in, and now I’m probably one of the highest experts in that area at the dealership,” he says.

Christopher decided to continue his education in the NASCAR specialized training program, still with the goal of joining a racing team.24

“The most fun I had in school was in the NASCAR side of the program. When we got to go hands on — building, welding, grinding, putting engines on — that was really amazing,” he says.

Christopher graduated in 2006, but his dreams of joining the racing world had changed. He had a serious girlfriend, a good job and a new desire for a life closer to home.

Taking the Road Back Home

“I had already been at the dealership and I felt secure in that. I was already in a good place,” Christopher says about looking for jobs after graduation. Plus, he didn’t like the idea of leaving his girlfriend to go on the road. He decided to stay in Statesville.

Christopher stayed at the same dealership, moving up in the ranks to the role of transmission technician and resident “go-to guy” for any fixes, no matter how difficult.

“I’ve got a world-class certification for GM. That’s one of their highest standards that any technician can have,” he says.

Christopher also gained the title of “husband” after making his girlfriend his wife. They now have 16- and 14-year-old sons.

Though it’s not the adrenaline-inducing life on a racetrack he once envisioned for himself, Christopher is happy with the career and life he’s built, thanks to his NASCAR Tech education.

“It’s been really good. It pays the bills and we get to play,” he says. And the love of cars lives on in his sons.

“They’ve got aspirations for racing. I hope to be able to help them experience everything I did growing up, and give them all the opportunities I had,” Christopher says.

His advice to his sons and any others who might follow in his footsteps at NASCAR Tech: “If you’re willing to put in time and you love it, you’ll reap the benefits. That’s for sure. You just gotta put in the work.”

Train for the Automotive Industry at NASCAR Tech

Are you as passionate about the automotive industry as Christopher?

Attending NASCAR Tech’s Automotive Technology program can help prepare you for an exciting career in the field in less than a year.7 You can also look into furthering your education with the 15-week NASCAR Technology and Pit Crew program.

Request more information today to connect with an Admissions Representative who can help answer questions you may have!

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1.4 ) NASCAR Technical Institute is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.
2 ) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit
7 ) Some programs may require longer than one year to complete.
24 ) NASCAR Technical Institute prepares graduates to work as entry-level automotive service technicians. Some graduates who take NASCAR-specific electives also may have job opportunities in racing-related industries. NASCAR Tech is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.


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