Jun 18, 2012
Charlotte, N.C. — Former East Carolina football player Jeff Kerr successfully made the transition from the gridiron to the NASCAR pits many years ago. Now, he's working to help others make that jump in what's become a growing trend in the sport.
The best way to learn the job is to do the job. In the world of a pit crewman, that sometimes means having a car fly right at you.
"The biggest thing is keep from getting run over," Kerr said.
Training can be intense for guys who hope to one day change tires and put fuel in cars driven by the best in the sport. Kerr is already one of those guys
"I love it,” he said. “It's one of the best things I've ever been a part of."
Kerr was at linebacker at ECU in the 90s, now he's the jackman for the No. 5 team and driver Kasey Kahne. His background makes him the perfect guy to train the crew members of the future.
"We have a developmental team we work with," Kerr said. "We have guys we recruit from different colleges that we bring in and try to turn them into pit crew athletes."
It's a formula Hendrick Motorsports is embracing - finding guys who have football skills and handing them a gas can. And like most sports, success here, begins in the weight room.
"In the Hendrick Motorsports weight room guys spend at least four days a week working out," Kerr said. “We have to stay in shape. Be quick, smart, explosive."
The skills Kerr hopes to pass down to guys who are following his path to the sport.
"I was a first of a few and now others are following suit,” Kerr said. “Hendrick has taken it and ran with it. It's really turned into something special"
Kerr has also been filling hours by blogging for WRALSportsFan and he has been a personal trainer for NC State basketball recruit Tyler Lewis since Lewis was in the 6th grade.