NASCAR tech students build race-winning engines

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — To go 200 mph, you need a lot of horsepower. In the early days of racing, horsepower was built by self-taught gurus, racing pioneers like Junior Johnson, Maurice Petty, Robert Yates and racers like the Myers brothers in Winston-Salem.

“Growing up in racing and growing up in a time where my dad had to do the engine work; daddy actually put the stuff together,” said Burt Myers, a third-generation Myers brother.

These days, highly trained mechanics build the engines it takes to compete in NASCAR, making sure each is powerful and reliable.

They learn their craft, and every aspect of building a racecar, at NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville.

John Dodson spent years working on NASCAR teams including with Rusty Wallace’s championship-winning team in 1989. Today he’s the VP of business alliances at NASCAR Tech. He works with NASCAR teams to get each graduate a great job.

“Being from racing, it’s kind of my extended family. Penske Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, Roush Yates Engines, Doug Yates has hired 100-plus graduates from our program. A large amount of those come from our spec engine program,” Dodson said.

The NASCAR Tech Spec Engine program isn’t just hands on, it’s where the best students build engines for competition.

“We have a program for honors students to build and maintain engines that compete in certain NASCAR series. One of them is the NASCAR Series at Bowman Gray Stadium,” Dodson said.

Burt Myers races in the modified division at Bowman Gray Stadium. His NASCAR Tech Engine powered him to seven wins in 2019 and his fourth consecutive championship.

“The best thing I can do is not to have to worry about my motor, not have to think about my motor. If I’m thinking about my motor it means there’s a problem, so the fact that I’m not thinking about my motor means that they’re doing the right thing,” Myers said.

And his experience with their reliability is warranted. One year, the students built 99 engines with only a single failure.

In 2019, NASCAR Tech engines won 34 races and four championships in several series across the nation.

Graduates of the program are all but guaranteed a job. Brandall Brown is a graduate of the program who is now working for the Hendrick Motorsports engine program.

“I’m on the 8 car for JRM in the Xfinity Series so my job at the track is anything that is engine-related is on me,” Brown said.

Brown says the program gave him the education he needed to make his lifelong dream come true.

“I got hands-on with a race-ready engine that goes to the track and had success with Burt Myers driving and it was really incredible experience ‘cause we built an engine from start to finish. So a lot of very valuable experience that has prepared me and gave me tools for the job that I do on a daily basis now,” Brown said.

With a winning reputation, it’s a win-win for racers everywhere.

“When Burt Myers wins championships at Bowman Gray we get calls from other modified drivers, ‘can we get your engines,’ and the thing is we can only do so many, we only have so much of a capacity, and that’s how we gauge our success,” Dodson said. “We win every week. There’s students from NASCAR Tech on every single team in every single series, so every week we have NASCAR Tech graduates in Victory Lane.”

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