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An image of students changing a tire at NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, North Carolina

About NASCAR Technical Institute Campus

John Dodson had worked in professional racing since the late 1970s. His father was a National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) driver, and when John was a senior in high school, he started changing tires at the Daytona 500.

In 1989, John was the tire changer for NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace, working for several hall of fame NASCAR drivers during more than 20-year journey in professional racing as a NASCAR crew member and team manager.

When Universal Technical Institute (UTI) wanted to build a new campus on the strength of an exclusive educational relationship with NASCAR in Mooresville, North Carolina, John became the school's first senior education manager. After succeeding in a stimulating environment filled with race cars, checkered flags and lots of travel, John was open to a career change.

He used his NASCAR expertise to design the program that is now more than 19 years strong since the 2002 opening of NASCAR Technical Institute. “I knew if I gave it everything I had, it would pay off, and it certainly has,” says John, who today holds the title of vice president of business alliances at NASCAR. “Our vision was to hire industry experts to build a program like nothing else in the world, and I think we’ve achieved it,” he says.

NASCAR Tech isn’t just focused on the NASCAR specialized training program it offers. The school trains students in areas including UTI’s core Automotive, CNC Machining, Welding, HVACR, and Robotics & Automation programs (the HVACR program is coming to NASCAR Tech). The campus also offers two Manufacturer-Specific Advanced Training (MSAT) programs: Ford Accelerated Credential Training (FACT) and Mopar Technical Education Curriculum (Mopar TEC). 11

John is just one example of experienced faculty members who have brought their unique, real-world experiences to this campus. Just as NASCAR Tech has been on the cutting-edge of what it offers to those who want to work in NASCAR professionally, its well-rounded programs continue to provide innovative opportunities to students interested in learning in-demand trades and how to become a NASCAR mechanic.24

Location, Location, Location

Mooresville is also known as Race City USA. The small community about 28 miles from Charlotte is home to many NASCAR professional teams and drivers. Charlotte is the home of NASCAR Plaza, which includes the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the site where operates.

The Mooresville location enables students to become part of the NASCAR community by offering an honors course, an exclusive student-built spec engine program, in which a select number of students who qualify are able to build engines that compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East division.

In the professional day-to-day world of NASCAR, the Mooresville campus’ presence is strong. John says NASCAR Tech graduates are on practically every team out there.

“We've certainly become the chosen resource for all aspects of motor sports in filling the talent pipeline,”6 John says.

Ready to Go Full Throttle

Because the NASCAR Technician Training program at the Mooresville campus is an elective, students who enter the NASCAR mechanic school will first need to complete automotive core program training, either at NASCAR Technical Institute or at another UTI campus.

John says about 80% of students who attend NASCAR Tech plan to work in dealerships after graduation.5 The MSAT programs that are offered provide students with the opportunity to dive deeper into diagnostics and master particular brands.

Jennifer Bergeron, NASCAR Technical Institute campus president who has been with the school in various roles since it opened, says even with the auto courses offered at the campus, there tends to be a high-performance and motor sports infusion in the courses. While the curriculum is consistent with UTI training nationwide, some of the tools and training Mooresville offers is focused more on high performance because of the brand relationships the campus has.

The CNC Machining Technology program is also unique to the Mooresville campus, as it is the only UTI campus to offer the program. The CNC program was introduced in 2017, with the first class of graduates completing the program in April 2018. No automotive prerequisites are required to enroll in the program.

CNC machines produce everything from cell phones to golf clubs to high-performing engine parts. Doug Yates, president and CEO of Roush Yates Engines in Mooresville, approached NASCAR Tech about the need for quality CNC technicians. NASCAR Tech decided to create the 36-week CNC Machining program, which trains graduates to work in diverse industries that use CNC machinery, including automotive, health care and aerospace.

Jennifer says the CNC program is a terrific complement to NASCAR Tech’s traditional focus on transportation industries.

“It transcends so many fields and opens up so many opportunities for students,” Jennifer says. “This is an incredible field and really high-tech for students to pursue.”

Jennifer says NASCAR Tech hopes to educate more high school students about the career possibilities in the growing CNC field, as well as attract those who may be interested in pursuing a rewarding career change.

CNC, like all programs at NASCAR Tech, is taught by instructors who have years of experience in the field. As Education Manager Glenn Feiste explains, being able to learn from industry veterans makes a difference in training.

Instructors Who Care

Like John, Glenn has decades of experience in the professional racing industry. He was an engine builder for Kyle Petty and Petty Enterprises and built IndyCar engines, among other diverse racing experiences.

He began working at NASCAR Tech in 2003, and knew John and John’s brothers from their NASCAR days. Glenn helped John develop the NASCAR curriculum at NASCAR Tech and was an instructor for about a year before becoming education manager. Today, he oversees instructors and manages courses on campus.

“There’s an innate pleasure in passing on to others what smart old men have taught me,” Glenn says. “When I started out and was real young in car racing, I learned a lot from the men who mentored me and showed me how to do things. Details are important. Now, it gives pleasure to mentor or help a person, and they go on to be successful.”

Glenn says he is often approached by parents at graduation who tell him how their son or daughter has radically changed in the year or so they have been at the school. He frequently hears that students become more mature, grown-up and adept at life skills at NASCAR Tech, which makes him proud.

“It's not all about the bookwork or black-and-white letters on a piece of paper,” Glenn says. “You change people’s lives. They’re more professional and polished and confident.”

Glenn adds that if a passion for racing, automotive or another field is in a student’s blood, hard work and dedication can help them fulfill their dreams.

“If your passion is something involved with automotive, no matter what that is, there’s a way here to open the door to become involved in that field, whether it’s car racing, NASCAR or any type of racing, or you want to be the top tech at a dealership,” Glenn says. “There are multiple avenues, multiple doors and multiple halls of opportunity to achieve that goal.”

A Close-Knit Campus

Beyond the expert training students at NASCAR Tech receive, they also become connected with a team that’s in their corner to help them succeed.

The NASCAR Tech team is there to help students with relocation and housing assistance, and there are several student organizations on campus geared toward creating memorable experiences for students. We also have a Veterans’ Lounge, where our military veteran students can connect with each other in a dedicated space just for them.

“Between education and student services, there’s an incredible partnership and level of communication to ensure every student gets what they need, regardless of the issue,” Jennifer says. “Instructors take it upon themselves to meet with students, and tutoring is always available.

“If an instructor lets us know there might be a concern with a particular student or uncharacteristic behavior, we have an adviser team dialed in who will reach out to the student and will see what's going on to see if they can be of any support or assistance,” she says.

Jennifer continues: “We try to do something every month that involves students. We want to create a strong sense of community where students feel included.”

NASCAR Tech’s Student Services team continuously seeks out opportunities for student activities, entertainment, and community volunteering, like drag race and Go-Pro go-kart events; discounted event tickets when available; blood drives for community blood banks; and Adopt-A-Highway sponsorships, just to name a few.

Jennifer says that because at least two-thirds of students relocate to attend school at NASCAR Tech, making sure students feel at home is key. She says student achievement is the core focus of any UTI campus, and the inclusive culture at NASCAR Tech is no exception.

“Whether it’s through a club or through everyone’s willingness to help students, at the end of the day, from Facilities to IT to Financial Aid, everyone puts student needs as their number one priority,” Jennifer says. “It doesn't matter what the issue is. We’re available to students. We say that, we mean it, and we do it.”

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