Pit Club aims to give teens raceway experience

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April 25, 2018  |  by Malena Ward, Lexington Clipper-Herald

As racing season gets underway a new club is being formed to give teens pit crew experience.

Pit Club is being offered to automotive and welding students at Lexington High School and organizers hope it will expand to students in other area schools in subsequent seasons. Although it is not a school sponsored organization, LHS automotive teacher Shane Schmidt has facilitated the sharing of information with potential club members.

He said club members will have the opportunity to work with race car drivers and pit crews at the Dawson County Raceway each Sunday evening during the racing season which begins Sunday.

Pit crews work under high pressure, within a short time limit, as they make decisions to ensure a car is ready for the next round of racing.

“It gives students the ability to work around high performance cars under a high stress situation,” said Schmidt.

It will expose students to what is required to work in such a position and help them identify if it is something they would be interested in for the future. And if so, what skills are required.

“I think it will be a good experience,” said Schmidt. “They will get to see a lot of different mechanics working at a high level.”

“The racers are really excited about this program,” said organizer Bob Jones. “I think it’s the start of a great program and we’re just breaking the ground on it.”

He said kids usually get into racing because they are born into it. Pit Club will give kids who already have an interest in cars some exposure to the sport.

Schmidt said one student plans to take part in the opportunity and a couple more are thinking about it. An informational meeting for parents is being coordinated prior to Sunday’s race day.

Jones said the meeting will cover basic training on pit ethics for motor sports and safety.

Plum Creek Motors, one of the club’s sponsors, is providing a shirt for each club member and organizers are offering to feed the teens who participate while they are at the races, said Jones.

Schmidt said as the racing season ends at the end of the summer, school will be starting up again. He looks forward to getting feedback from Pit Club participants about what they learned and what they want to know more about.

“As they come back and ask questions, I can help hone their skills for next year,” said Schmidt.

He said a lot of the skills he currently teaches will transfer over, just at a faster pace, such as hand-eye coordination, thinking outside the box, problem solving and critical thinking.

“My one disappointment is I don’t have a lot of kids jumping at it,” said Schmidt. “If we start somewhere, it will grow.”

He recalled that when he first began teaching automotive classes, student numbers were small and he now has 25 students.

Pit Club is open to Lexington High School’s welding and automotive students.