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UTI Instructor Mark Jenkins: A Lifelong Love of Race Cars

"UTI can’t guarantee you anything, but it gives you the opportunity, an entry level and if you want it bad enough, you’ll do it and you can succeed at it."

 

Mark Jenkins admits that he’s a bit shy, but when he’s talking about cars, it can be a bit hard to believe. Once he gets going about racing and building, he connects with people like he’s known them for his whole life. And Mark is the first to admit that cars are all he knows and loves to talk about, “I can’t talk football or anything else - it’s all just cars.”

Mark, an instructor at UTI Houston grew up in a neighborhood where almost everyone was into cars. In fact, the sight of someone tinkering underneath the hood was as common as someone mowing the lawn. Growing up in a place where most people shared the same interest in vehicles had an impact on him. He soon found himself working on them and doing all that he could to learn more.

As he got a little bit older and became a teenager, hot rods and going to the track filled Mark and his friends with excitement. His childhood appreciation turned into an obsession as he entered into early adulthood.

“As I turned into a teenager everyone had some sort of hot rod. The next thing you know I had an old Camaro - I was racing and building cars. It came to the point where everything I lived, ate, and breathed was all cars.”

He held onto this interest, but didn’t consider it as a career as he was preparing to graduate from high school. Like so many at that point in their young lives, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. He entered the workforce with no real career goals. Mark was like many others who need to take some time in the real world to figure out who they are and what they want to do.  

“Back then you had like four options, you could be a policeman, a fireman, a doctor or a mechanic, And I only fit the profile for one of those.”

He never lost his love for cars and the happiness that being on the race track brought him. He decided that his next step would be to return to what he loved. He went back to school for an automotive education. This education gave him the skills and training to get a job at a Ford dealership, where he spent the next 17 years fixing cars and working his way up to a management position.

But with any job, even if you’re doing what you love, familiarity and routine can become a bit too comfortable. Some people need new challenges. Mark knew that he needed to change things up.

“I was ready to make a move and try something different. And one of the other employees I used to work with, worked for UTI and he got me on there. It’s been a really good experience being able to give back to the students and to share my knowledge.”

His experience in building and racing cars has given him the expertise to teach the Power & Performance class. He enjoys teaching about race cars and ways to make them go faster. Giving students the chance to see how a dyno works and teaching them how to make adjustments are just a few of the many lessons he shares with them.

“My main goal is to show students how to get into these computers and to take this power and to keep the engines alive without destroying anything.”

Not only does he get the chance to share what he knows with his students, but he gets to learn and be inspired by them. With more than one student having performed an LS swap, which is replacing a stock engine with a GM LS series engine, he felt moved to do this to one of his own trucks. He took an old Chevy, replaced the engine, rebuilt the harness, and did some other work. This project gave him experience in actually doing an LS swap, and he now has a deeper understanding that he can share with his students.

Mark has continued to learn and get experience both as a teacher and someone still actively involved in racing. One thing that has helped keep him going through all the changes in his career has been a strong work ethic. It’s something that he likes seeing in his own students. He knows the satisfaction of working hard to obtain your goals. The most rewarding experiences aren’t those that are handed over, but are well earned.

“The world is what you make it. UTI can’t guarantee you anything, but it gives you the opportunity, an entry level and if you want it bad enough, you’ll do it and you can succeed at it.”

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