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Graduate Stories

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Harry Bookhoop Jr: From NASCAR Technical Institute to the Racetrack

"I say that I work for Penske and people are like – wow, that’s awesome. I don’t think about it a lot, especially getting to be a part of the Indy team, but when I do, I realize that it’s a pretty big deal."


Many people are fans of NASCAR and IndyCar racing, and envy those who get to work on a pit crew or work behind the scenes. The closest they may ever get to being a part of a race team is cheering from the stands for their favorite racers. But for others, like Harry Calhoun Bookhoop Jr., they get to live out their dreams by having a job in the racing industry.

Harry is proud to work for the esteemed company Penske Racing Inc. on the IndyCar side of their business. He gets to support the team both on and off the race track. At the home office he’s in charge of ordering parts – whatever they need he’s the guy that they come to. But he also gets to be a part of the action as part of the backup pit crew. Sometimes he forgets how cool this job is.

“I say that I work for Penske and people are like – wow, that’s awesome. I don’t think about it a lot, especially getting to be a part of the Indy team, but when I do, I realize that it’s a pretty big deal.”

When’s he not ordering parts and making sure that all of the nuts, bolts and other essential parts have been packed for the race cars as they head out on the haulers, he and his pit team practice. They go over the routines and rhythms to prepare themselves for when they’re at the actual races and every second matters.

“We have an indoor pit stop facility here with electric pit stop cars. All of the equipment we need is here and we just practice for five or months.”

Both sides of his job have their own important responsibilities. And so much of his work ethic goes back to his time as a student at NASCAR Technical Institute where he graduated in May 2014 having studied automotive.

“My advice for someone getting into this type of industry is to keep digging, keep your head down and work as hard as you can. Keep your professionalism and attendance up. Stay focused and do your best and you’ll be all right.”

Harry has worked hard and stayed dedicated. He has come a long way from the small town of Stilson, Georgia where he grew up. And NASCAR Tech helped him find his way to where he is today. Before attending he didn’t have a lot of experience working on cars, he may have fixed some lawnmowers, but that was it. His formal education at NASCAR Tech help him build the foundation of knowledge as well as the other skills he puts into practice every day at Penske Racing. He was a race car fan first. Now he gets to be both a fan and an active part of the action. He’s a team player. He loves being there to help out whether it’s in the shop or out at the race track.

“One thing I really like about working here is that I can help people. I get to help the team succeed. And it’s really a cool deal.”

Harry didn’t get to Penske Racing by just sitting back and wishing he could work there. He made the decision to go to NASCAR Technical Institute which opened up this opportunity. Don’t let your own ambitions fade with indecision. Take that first important step you need to change your life.


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