(via AUTOWEEK) – Scott Shaw, President and CEO of Lincoln Tech, and Casey Putsch, founder and CEO of Genius Garage, are both doing their part to help students get out of the classroom and into big-time motorsports.
Shaw, whose West Orange, New Jersey-based Lincoln Tech vocational schools specialize in automotive tech at 12 campuses around the country, has partnered with IndyCar team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, giving students a hands-on mentoring opportunity. Former IndyCar team owner and current Schmidt Peterson Motorsports advisor John Barnes is a Lincoln Tech graduate.
“They’re seeing the sexy and the non-sexy parts of the sport,” says Jon Flack, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports president. “They’re slinging’ tires, setting up tires, setting up the pits, and they come away with a pretty good fit for them – and we come away with a pretty good feel for whether they’re a good fit for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.”
One Lincoln Tech graduate, Cole Jagger, works on SPM’s pit crew.
“What we want to do is excite people about this opportunity, and we’re all about real-world experiences,” Shaw says. “It’s been a great experience for our students to work on a racecar and see someone who was basically where they were five or six years earlier.”
Ben Driskill, a Lincoln Tech student from the Nashville campus, was one of five students selected to participate in the program this year. He donned the Schmidt Peterson colors for the June race at Texas Motor Speedway and said he plans to apply for jobs in acing after he graduates in December.
“I learned a lot of intricate details about how a team was put together,” Driskill said.
For Putsch, his Genius Garage program, based in Bowling Green, Ohio, is what he describes as a “dream shop internship” for students entered in racing high-performance cars or classic cars. His team have refurbished back to race-ready condition, a 1997 PacWest Racing Group champ car, a late ’80s IMSA GTO Corvette and a 1996 March Bennett 700-hp open-cockpit prototype, among others. The team races its finished products in vintage races.
“By having all these different cars, we can cultivate the student, from basic to ‘you’re ready to be on a Formula 1 team’ kind of thing,” Putsch says. “I knew if we were going to do this, it had to be with professional-level cars. WE have to put the students in an environment where they realize how the world is. You expect a lot out of them, and this gives them the opportunity to grow.
“We may get a racecar with no engine in it and everything has to be engineered. All of the engine mapping from ignition to fuel, all of the engineering logistics and, of course, the business logistics – the resources, the time aspect, everything like that. That’s a huge project, especially for college students, but it’s one that given the environment, given basic resources, some mentorship and leadership, they can do it.
“The racing ends up being the perfect platform.”