NASCAR representatives visit Alcorn to recruit potential pit crew members

Representatives from NASCAR visited Alcorn State University in hopes of finding the sport’s next generation of pit crew members.

Director of Athletic Performance for Rev Racing, Phil Horton, tested the strength, agility, endurance and intelligence of eight Alcorn students during a physical training session in the Davey L. Whitney HPER Complex Tuesday, March 8. Horton, along with the Director of Racing Operations at NASCAR, Brandon M. Thompson, are searching for 20 skilled former student-athletes from different universities to invite to NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity Crew Member Development Training Program in Charlotte, North Carolina in May.

Horton, who also is the pit crew coach for the Drive for Diversity Crew Member Development Program, gave the recruits a glimpse of a day in the life of a pit crew member. He also spoke on diversifying the sport by adding more minorities and women.

“The pit crew changes the tires, fills it up with gas in less than 12 seconds,” said Horton. “We’re looking for minorities because we want to increase the diversity in the sport. The sport mostly consists of white, southern males.”

In an attempt to promote a career in NASCAR to the students, Horton informed them about some of the perks that come with being a member of a pit crew.

“Another reason to think about this is because it pays well. Annually, you can earn $100,000 a year at the top level as a member of a pit crew. It allows you the chance to make money while still competing. We want you to become open to the opportunity. Also, you can be a part time pit crew member, which will allow you to have a career while earning a decent salary as a weekend pit crew member.”

Like the students, the idea of pursuing a career in NASCAR wasn’t on Horton’s agenda. During his days as an assistant athletic trainer and strength coach for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, he thought that sticking with that career was the best for him. Once he entertained the possibility of his new career, he quickly changed his mind and stepped outside of the box to be more successful. He encouraged the students to take the same approach.

“When the NASCAR opportunity came along, I wanted to stay in the NBA. If I had stayed, I never would have developed into the personality that I am as a coach in NASCAR. My move to NASCAR enhanced me as a professional, and I make more money. If I would have stayed in my comfort zone, I never would have grown professionally.”

After the intense training routine, the students were happy with the session. Breanna O’Leary, a graduate student and former softball player from Amarillo, Texas, felt confident in her performance.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but I feel that I did the best that I could have done,” said Breanna. “If I get invited to the combine, it will definitely be an opportunity that I would consider.”

Senior Bradford Shedrick, a Port Gibson, Mississippi native and the only non-athlete to participate, said that the training session is a good way of testing your limits.

“This was a good experience,” said Bradford. “It was challenging and it makes you want to push yourself further than you’ve ever gone before. It makes you think about the passion required to participate in these types of workouts. It gives you a chance to push your mind, body and spirit.”

Graduate student Joe Price, a former football player from Flora, Mississippi, is considering a possible career in NASCAR.

“It felt good to come out and give this a try,” said Joe. “After listening to Coach Horton talk about the opportunity, I wouldn’t mind giving it a shot. If I get a phone call, it will be a blessing.”

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