When Vic Russell first toured the Universal Technical Institute-Avondale campus in 2002, he had no idea that decision would change his life forever.
It was during this initial campus visit that Russell mentioned his love for racing, and it was that conversation that ultimately led him to NASCAR Technical Institute (NASCAR Tech) in Mooresville, N.C.
"I wasn't always interested in a career in racing, but when I first saw the campus in Mooresville I was hooked," said Russell. "I was really interested in a career in forestry, so at the time I was more of just a racing fan."
After some thought and discussion with his family, Russell made the move from Stanfield, Arizona to Mooresville to pursue an education at NASCAR Tech. It was his time on campus that helped bring out his passion for the sport, but even after graduating in August 2003 Russell still wasn't convinced that a job on a race team was possible.
"After graduation, I thought a lot about applying for jobs with notable manufactures such as BMW and Volkswagen," said Russell. "The racing industry is so niche with so little spots available, I thought I would have a better opportunity finding employment with a mainstream brand."
Luckily for Russell, he got the help he needed to break into the industry he had always loved.
"I was talking to a friend one night and he mentioned he knew somebody with Roush Yates Racing Engines who said there was a spot available and thought I should apply," recalls Russell.
After a friend made the initial introductions, Russell was in the shop interviewing, and a short time later he was a full-time employee with a major team. Starting in a tear-down position, Russell had to work his way up the ranks.
"When I first started I was responsible for taking engines apart and inspecting them when the team would return from a race," said Russell. "I was willing to do whatever it took to be a part of the team so I was excited for the opportunity."
Now almost 10 years and a few different job descriptions later, Russell is on the sub-assembly crew where he is tasked with maintaining oil pumps, oil lines, distributors, bell housing, plug wires and clutch assembly.
Day in and out, Russell helps put the horsepower under the Ford powerplants in NASCAR's top three series. He, alongside coworkers, has helped Roush Yates Racing Engines earn top honors like the 2011 MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Regardless of his career success, Russell always remembers where he got his start.
"NASCAR Tech did a lot for me and it was a positive experience that helped me get where I am today," said Russell. "I met a lot of great people and will always remember the camaraderie among fellow students and instructors. Those are my greatest memories of all."
Russell remains motivated about what the future holds with Roush Yates Racing Engines.
"Each day I think about the idea that the engine I am working on is the one that could possibly win the Daytona 500, and that's what motivates me every day."