CHARLOTTE -- "I have learned so much about the sport of NASCAR racing this year." Those are the words of 20 year old Aaron Kuehn, a member of the Goulds Pumps Racing Team. Kuehn, a Kensington, Connecticut native has been busy in 1999,...
CHARLOTTE -- "I have learned so much about the sport of NASCAR racing this year."
Those are the words of 20 year old Aaron Kuehn, a member of the Goulds Pumps Racing Team. Kuehn, a Kensington, Connecticut native has been busy in 1999, balancing an education and a full NASCAR Busch Series racing schedule. Kuehn is entering his 2nd year in the Motorsports Management Program at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. Not only is Kuehn learning about racing inside the classroom, he works part time for Tony's Engines and spends his weekends as the tire specialist for the #34 Goulds Pumps Chevrolet driven by Mike McLaughlin.
Growing up in the Northeast, Kuehn began to attend Busch North and NASCAR Modified races, developing a love for the sport of racing. Kuehn often wondered what it would be like to work full-time in the sport. With high school graduation only a few days away, Kuehn decided to head south, right into the heart of NASCAR country for his college education.
"Originally I was going to go to UNC-Charlotte, but my shop teacher found out about a new motorsports program at Rowan-Cabarrus and I changed my mind overnight," Kuehn said. "I love racing so much and I looked at the Motorsports Management program as a way to further my education and become more involved in racing."
Kuehn already had a few friends working in the NASCAR racing business and called on them for help in being accepted into the Motorsports Management program.
"Being from Connecticut I had gotten to know Greg Zipadelli (Crew Chief for Tony Stewart) and had watched his career grow from being a mechanic in the Busch North Series to his current position," Kuehn said. "I also had gotten to know Mike McLaughlin while growing up, he was always my favorite driver. Mike and Greg were a big help in getting me into the Motorsports Management program."
Kuehn stays busy during the week at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College studying the business aspects of racing in addition to the technical side of the sport. Kuehn's classes have included; Racing Logistics, Engine Development, Tire Management, Business and Math. Richmond Gage, a veteran of the motorsports field, leads the Motorsports Management program.
"Richmond Gage has worked on all sides of the sport, we are able to learn so much from his experience," Kuehn said. "The program has been designed to show us all sides of the sport and prepare us to enter into the industry with two years of training."
When the weekend arrives and other college students head for the closest party or the lake, Kuehn changes into his Goulds Pumps Racing Team uniform and heads for the racetrack. Kuehn prepares the tires for Mike McLaughlin, measuring air pressure and gauging tire wear. Working for the Goulds Pumps team allows Kuehn to work for two more friends he got to know from the Busch North Series, Clyde McLeod and Steve "Big Guy" Helwig.
"Working with Clyde and Big Guy has been a real thrill, after looking up to them as a kid, it's neat to be on their team," Kuehn said. "I realize how lucky I am as a 20 year old to be working for one of the best teams in the garage, hopefully I can turn this experience into a long term career."
The Goulds Pump team is happy to have Kuehn as well.
"Aaron is a great kid and he is very determined to succeed in this sport," Mike McLaughlin said. "I'm really proud of Aaron for staying focused on his school work and still being able to help our team out."
Kuehn is scheduled to graduate next May and enter into the NASCAR work force full time. One thing for sure, with an education from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and 2 years of working in the NASCAR garage on his resume, Kuehn will make a solid addition to any team.
"I can't wait to work full-time in the sport, it would be a dream come true for me," Kuehn said. "I want to be a crew chief or a general manager of a race team one day, hopefully my education will be a big help in reaching those goals."
Aaron Kuehn, the next Greg Zipadelli? You never know, everyone has to start somewhere.