From Lexington Herald-Leader
LEXINGTON, KY — As Bryan Station High School senior Joseph Hampton breezed through the hallways of the Eastside Technical Center, his fellow classmates greeted him with smiles and hellos.
He carried himself with an air of confidence and pride, knowing that in a few months he would be attending the “Harvard of automotive schools.”
Hampton has earned credit for automotive classes during the last two years through a co-op program with Bryan Station. After graduation, he will continue his passion of working on cars this July at the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C.
“I’ve been around NASCAR my whole life,” Hampton said, relating that he often tunes in to the sport on television and has traveled to several states to see 15 to 20 live races.
Though he prefers auto racing, Hampton said, he enjoys “any kind of racing.”
“NASCAR is such a southern, home-grown sport, though,” he said. “Anybody can do it.”
Every day, Hampton arrives at the Eastside Technical Center an hour early to help with general maintenance and secretarial tasks.
“I’m a go-to person … when someone needs something done, they ask me because they know I’ll do it,” he said.
The first part of each school day, Hampton studies under teacher Greg Jones and focuses mainly on engine repair and air-conditioning and heating systems.
The second half of the day is devoted to his job at the Quantrell Cadillac dealership, where he earns school credit for his hands-on experience and money towards his college fund.
By fulfilling most of his high school requirements during his freshman and sophomore years, Hampton is able to spend most of his time in the automotive program. He takes one English class at Eastside.
Taking the next step towards the NASCAR school wasn’t an easy one, but Hampton knew that all his hard work would be worth it when he was living his dream.
With a good driving record, excellent grades and two teacher recommendations, Hampton was accepted to the 57-week, $27,000 school last November.
Jones said that Hampton came to Eastside “with a lot of interest and was able to learn a lot and grow.”
Jones said Hampton had enthusiasm from the start, but a minimal mechanical knowledge. Since then, “he’s done a 360 degree turn — he deserves credit.”
During his time at the NASCAR school, Hampton will learn the fundamentals of working on regular “street cars,” with an 18-week session geared specifically toward learning about and working on racing vehicles.
When he graduates from the school, if he is a top student, he could get a NASCAR job — with a pit crew, he hopes. His ultimate goal is to be a fuel man, working with vehicles during races.
With cars, Hampton said, “there’s a different job to do every day — there’s always something you can do to make them look and run better — it’s a never-ending story.”
Copyright 2005 Lexington Herald-Leader. All Rights Reserved.
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