The success of a single athlete or sports team is measured by one thing -- championships.
Just ask NASCAR pit crewman Colin Fambrough who’s already been a part of two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship teams during his relatively short tenure in the pits.
The Tyler, Texas native is currently employed by Penske Racing as the rear-tire changer on the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion driven by 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Brad Keselowski. While Fambrough, 29, has quickly achieved the success some accumulate over the course of a career, he has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
TIn 1992, Fambrough’s journey to the top of one of the nation’s most popular sports began in the living room of his childhood home. Fambrough questioned his mother’s taste in television when she flipped over to the NASCAR race that happened to be Richard Petty’s last.
Fambrough couldn’t have been less interested, and recalls asking his mother, “Why are you watching this?” She shared that she once had the opportunity to meet Petty, and showed him photos of her and Petty’s legendary No. 43 race car.
“From that point on, I began watching NASCAR,” Fambrough said. “I started going to the local dirt tracks and watching the races live.”
But it wasn’t until 1999 when Fambrough saw the pack hit Turn 1 at Daytona International Speedway that his true passion for the sport was ignited.
“It was the coolest thing I had ever seen. It was an amazing experience.”
After seeing a commercial about NASCAR Technical Institute (NASCAR Tech) a few years later, he realized this was the avenue he had been searching for to break into the sport.
“I realized there was a practical application to attending NASCAR Tech,” he said. “The first portion of the program is focused around automotive technology where you acquire skills and knowledge that are manufacturer specific. They provide a foundation for a career as a technician regardless of the desire to work for a NASCAR team.”
Indeed in today’s NASCAR garage, high-skilled technicians using computers and innovative technology have replaced the stereotypical “grease monkey” mechanic of yesteryear. Fambrough knew the key to working in the sport present day was going to be a solid automotive technology education.
After some discussion, Fambrough’s parents were on board and he was soon in “Race City, USA” (Mooresville, N.C.) going to school. To his surprise he was learning more than just automotive skills.
“It was remarkable meeting different people and seeing diverse perspectives of life,” Fambrough said. “I was around people who had the same interests and goals, and that really helped me understand who, and what, I wanted to be. For the first time I was doing much more than what I needed to do to get by. It was the first thing that really had me interested.”
As Fambrough approached graduation, he began the process of looking for a job and turned to his instructors for guidance.
Fambrough’s instructor, D.J. Copp, advised him to learn how to pit cars, continue practicing, and begin talking to race teams to get his foot in the door.
“My instructor said being a part of a pit crew opens another set of doors outside of being a technician,” Fambrough said.
Fambrough was now a NASCAR Tech student by day and training vigorously at night to hone his pit crew skills. Times were tough, but Fambrough knew the hard work would pay dividends down the road.
Copp helped Fambrough secure an interview with Roush Fenway Racing, and after a series of interviews and tryouts, he made the team.
At the same time, Fambrough befriended a young, developmental driver coming up the ranks named Joey Logano. By chance, Logano’s race team at the time was down a pit-crew member. Asking for volunteers, Fambrough jumped on the opportunity and the next day was at the track getting his first real-life taste of pit road.
When Logano signed with Joe Gibbs Racing, Fambrough soon followed, inking a deal with the team as a pit-crew member. Since then, Fambrough has spent much of his career in Victory Lane, pitting cars for some of the sport’s best drivers, including Jimmie Johnson, whom Fambrough pitted for during the 2010 season when he captured his fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship.
Fambrough credits drive, determination and a great education as the keys to his success.
“NASCAR Tech provided me with an opportunity to begin my career, and without them I don’t think I would be where I am today,” he said. “That education offered options that provided me with a successful career, and that is really hard to beat.”