AMERICUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Some go to school to get English and math degrees, others work on race cars. August is Motor Sports Awareness Month in the United States, and South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) is one of two schools in the state offering a motorsport vehicle technology program.
The four-semester program accepts 10 to 12 students per semester and prepares them for an entry-level position in a professional racing team shop. While the course doesn’t cover specific technological advances in racing, course instructor Kevin Beaver says it provides basic instruction and familiarity with sports, stock, drag and open wheel cars.
“I think motorsport changes every day,” said Beaver. “So that aspect is changing a lot, but the curriculum will remain the same.”
The motorsport teacher said that he started working with racing cars at a young age. His father owned a high performance engine shop, Beaver Racing Engines. Beaver said he has a long history of working with local professional racing teams.
SGTC President John Watford noted that the school’s motorsport program costs $100 per credit hour. A minimum of 54 credit hours is required to complete the program. However, the program includes several certificates that students can earn if they are not pursuing a full degree.
“We are continually looking for ways to strengthen this program and design it to meet the individual needs of all of our consumers and all of our students,” said Watford.
In recent years, the students have then worked with professional racing teams or workshops. 22-year-old Garrett Kennedy, a graduate of the program, graduated in 2021 and soon transferred to work with the Hendrick Motorsports racing team.
“I was there at Kyle Larson’s championship [in 2021] and that was an incredible moment,” Kennedy said, referring to the 2021 NASCAR Series Champion and Hendrick Motorsports racer. In April 2023 was Larson Added to NASCAR’s Top 75 Drivers list.
Kennedy recalled watching the race with the entire Hendrick squad as they gathered at a local minor league stadium. To date, according to Hendrick’s, Larson has had 21 race wins, 99 top 5 finishes, 158 top 10 finishes, 16 pole positions and one NASCAR Series Championship website.
According to Kennedy, his job at Hendrick Motorsports involved 3D printing parts for the race car. This was not an issue covered at the SGTC, but Kennedy said the course was primed to move into a professional racing environment.
He said his job at Hendrick Motorsports builds on the knowledge already acquired at SGTC. Kennedy, already familiar with parts through the program, was better prepared to design and customize parts using 3D printing.
“It’s very fulfilling because you see the product you’re working on,” Kennedy said. He added, “You know, your ultimate goal is to get wins, and when you get a win you’re like, ‘Oh, we did that.’ We contributed to that.’”
Kennedy joined the Hendrick Automotive Group from his job at Hendrick Motorsports earlier this summer. He said he plans to stay in the high-performance vehicle industry for the foreseeable future.
Accordingly LinkedInIn 2022, the motorsport industry was worth over 56,000 million and is expected to be worth over 122,600 million by 2028.