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Mobil 1 Auto Tech: Sickler proving passion pays off

July 30, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com

Sickler: 'Whatever you put into life you will to get out of it'

Someone once said, "it's not where you start, but where you finish."

Considering the path to his current career in motorsports, that person could have been talking about Jonathan Sickler.  

For the last four years, Sickler has been an integral part of Rev Racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, where he serves as a finish fabricator and drives the team rig that hauls the Toyota race 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," Sickler said.

Even if it doesn't seem like work, the time and effort he and his team put in this year was well worth it.

In 2012, Rev Racing with driver Kyle Larson captured the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East crown using engines built by current Universal Technical Institute (UTI) students in the Spec-Engine Program. That victory marked the first NASCAR touring championship for Rev Racing and NASCAR's Drive for Diversity initiative.

This season, Rev Racing has already scored three wins in the competitive NASCAR K&N Pro Series East division.

More than a decade ago, when Sickler was installing car stereos in Pinellas Park, Florida, NASCAR championship trophies were not exactly top of 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 the country and enrolled at UTI-Avondale, completing the 51-week Core Automotive Program. With a solid mechanical foundation, Sickler was ready for more, and "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, who graduated from NASCAR Tech in 2003. "The school provided a platform for me to accomplish my goals."

At 27, Sickler was not deterred from reaching the pinnacle of the racing world, proving that no matter your age, a career in the automotive industry is possible.

"Shops and race teams are looking for qualified, skilled and passionate individuals," said John Dodson, community/NASCAR team relations director at NASCAR Tech. "Those are the types of graduates we turn out, and they get the job done."

"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.

Heading into this weekend's Autolite Iridium XP 150 NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at Iowa Speedway, Sickler reminds us it is hard work and dedication that lead to success in racing -- and in life.

"Whatever you put into life you will to get out of it," he said. "If you work hard and believe in what you're trying to accomplish, you can do it."