NASCAR Tech Student Madison Conrad Revs Up For Her New Career
The 2017 NASCAR season begins soon and so will the racing career for one of NASCAR Technical Institute’s finest students.
Madison Conrad, a 19-year-old Mooresville resident, will be completing the Auto/NASCAR/Pit Crew program at the Mooresville-based institution and moving on to a full-time job at Roush Yates Engines.
Madison Conrad aspires to be a trackside engine tuner at Roush Yates Engines.
Conrad, a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, has made the most of her experience at NASCAR Tech, one of 12 campuses nationwide operated by Universal Technical Institute. Her academic achievement has been decorated with numerous school-issued awards and she has served as the campus’s Student Council president.
Conrad recently received the Roger Penske Outstanding Student Award by the Technical Foundation. The annual prize of $8,500 is awarded to one UTI student who completes 52 weeks of core curriculum and stands out academically and serves as a good role model and teammate to her fellow classmates.
“It’s by far the most prestigious award offered by this campus and UTI,” said Conrad, who will apply the cash award to student loan payments. “So it’s a true honor to be selected out of 13,000 students.”
At Roush Yates Engines, where Conrad served as an intern for six months, she aspires to be a trackside engine tuner, a goal she anticipates taking several years to achieve. Conrad says her path will likely start with tearing down and assembling engines. Ultimately, she would like to be a race team car chief or crew chief.
It is a career Conrad seemingly was born to pursue.
Her father and grandfather dabbled in racing in New Mexico and the elementary school-aged Conrad often followed them to the dirt and asphalt tracks, helping them in the garages and pits by handing them tools and scraping the mud off wheels. By the age of 14, she was the one behind the steering wheel.
Over four years, Conrad raced Street Stock, modified, and Legends cars “all over the West Coast” she says, adding that she took home rookie of the year and points championship trophies at different times in her divisions.
As a student at Albuquerque’s Eldorado High School, Conrad was inspired by the automotive classes she took. She says it was “a dream come true” that a UTI recruiter once visited her school and told her about the institute’s programs.
The closest UTI campus was in Phoenix, Ariz., but it did not offer the program that interested Conrad. She wanted to pursue a career in NASCAR.
Five months after graduating high school in 2015, Conrad’s parents, Steve and Michelle Conrad, helped her move to Mooresville. It was 1,700 miles from her home, nearly the equivalent of driving three Coca Cola 600s.
Conrad enrolled at NASCAR Tech, a 146,000-square-foot building with about 900 students. NIT offers a wide array of automotive programs but Conrad chose to concentrate on its NASCAR elective curriculum.
“Leaving home definitely wasn’t easy,” said Conrad. “It was a 1,700-mile move, but I always knew to make it big in this industry you have to make big moves so that was my biggest motivator. It was something I was really passionate about. It was never a question of whether I wanted to do it, it was just a matter of how and when.”
Over the last 15 months, Conrad took classes on engines and pit stops, impressing her teachers, including pit stop instructor Craig Hibdon, with her knowledge, ambition and her positive attitude.
“As we went through each step of the pit stop process,” said Hibson, a Huntersville resident. “… she’s changing tires, she’s hubbing tires, which is a pretty tough job to do. And then she gets on the jack and she’s jacking a car up.
“As we’re getting started with getting our pit stops done, later in the course, she’s rotating in just like one of the guys. And that’s really who she is, just one of the guys. You couldn’t ask for a better student.”
Original article published by Charlotte Observer
Joe Habina is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.