Photo courtesy of ALLISON+PARTNERSJonathan Sickler made his dreams of a NASCAR career come true.
PINELLAS PARK – It’s been said, “It’s not where you start, but where you finish.” Considering the path to his current career in motorsports, that could have been said about 2003 NASCAR Technical Institute graduate Jonathan Sickler.
For the last two years, Sickler has been an integral part of the No. 8 Rev Racing Toyota pit crew, where he serves as a finish fabricator and drives the team rig that hauls the cars. All those miles on the road and hours in the garage could take a toll on a person, but not Sickler.
“If you’re passionate about what you do and enjoy it, it doesn’t seem like work,” said Sickler.
Even if it doesn’t seem like work, the time and effort he and his team put in this past year was well worth it. In November, the No. 6 Rev Racing Toyota driven by Kyle Larson captured the K&N Pro Series East crown with engines built by current Universal Technical Institute students in the Spec-Engine Program. The victory marks the first NASCAR touring championship for Rev Racing and NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity initiative.
More than a decade ago, when Sickler was installing car stereos in Pinellas Park, NASCAR championship trophies were not exactly at the top of his mind. However, as he worked more with cars, he developed a passion for them, beyond the stereo component. Taking on the same tasks, day after day, he was ready for a change, and knew that expanding his knowledge of cars was the first step.
At 25, Sickler packed up his belongings, drove across country, and enrolled at UTI-Avondale, and completed the 51-week Core Automotive Program. With a solid mechanical foundation, Sickler was ready for more. After speaking with NASCAR Tech representatives about their industry-specific training programs, “Race City, USA” and NASCAR Tech was his next pit stop.
“The curriculum was really strong and I was at the age where I was mature enough to understand what I wanted to do and how I was going to get there,” said Sickler. “NASCAR Tech provided a platform for me to accomplish my goals.”
At 27, Sickler was not deterred from reaching the pinnacle of the racing world. UTI and NASCAR Tech see a lot of students walk through the doors and embrace the understanding that no matter the age, a career in the automotive industry is possible.
Sickler is talented and motivated, but notes that without the education he received at UTI and NASCAR Tech, he would not be where he is today.
“You have to have an education in automotive technology to get into racing,” said Sickler. “It’s really competitive and hands-on experience is the differentiator race teams are looking for.”
Sickler realizes how fortunate he is to be in this position and wants others to know that all things are possible.
“Whatever you put into life you will get out of it,” he said. “If you work hard and believe in what you’re trying to accomplish, you can do it.”