JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Before the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series makes its return to Bristol Motor Speedway this week, two of its young drivers made a stop at Science Hill High School.
Christian Eckes and Jake Garcia, who both drive Silverados for Bill McAnally Racing, spoke with students about their rise in the NASCAR ranks and potential careers in motorsports.
Eckes also brought his #19 NAPA Chevrolet for students to look at.
Students also heard from representatives from UNOH, the University of Northwestern Ohio. A part of the school focuses on careers in racing.
Garcia said the discussion presented students with options to get involved in motorsports, which is vital for the sport to continue.
“l think it’s great to get young people into the sport,” Garcia said. “That’s the future for sure.”
Eckes said it was rewarding to hear from some of the students about their interest in the sport.
“It’s great for us to be out here to kind of show everybody here what’s involved in racing, how we got our start and what we love about the sport,” Eckes said. “It’s always good to see a lot of young people have some interest in racing and in NASCAR.”
Bristol Motor Speedway President Jerry Caldwell also joined in, inviting students to the truck race.
UNOH is the sponsor for the Truck Series race. He said UNOH provides opportunities for students to start a motorsports career across all facets of the industry.
“They have degrees for folks that want to go into marketing and sales to where you can support the race teams or if you’re going to be on a pit crew,” Caldwell said. “Obviously with mechanics, that’s kind of their specialty.”
Science Hill Senior Camdyn Cecil joined the panel discussion, asking the drivers several questions about their careers.
A CTE student at Science Hill, Cecil said the chance to talk with the drivers opened her eyes to career opportunities in racing.
“You learn it’s not just sit in the car, make the cars or whatever,” Cecil said. “There’s so much more to it. There’s so many opportunities beyond just the racing aspect of it.”
Garcia had no problem relating to the students; the young driver graduated from high school this spring. He said it was a great opportunity to grow the sport, even if the students don’t pursue a career in the industry.
“It’s just good to raise the awareness of racing and maybe create some fans out of it,” Garcia said.
Eckes made the Truck Series playoffs and won the most recent race at Kansas last week.
He is under plenty of stress as the Truck Series kicks off the Round of 8 in the playoffs at Bristol.
“It’s a super tough track and then you put the Round of 8 pressure on it, and it makes it even worse,” Eckes said.
Eckes and Garcia will tackle the high banks in the UNOH 200 at 9 p.m. Thursday at Bristol Motor Speedway.