Alva hometown NASCAR racing hero and Florida Gulf Coast University alumni, Ross Chastain, is learning some valuable lessons. He stopped by South Fort Myers High School on Tuesday to learn about its automotive, electrical and welding programs.
South Fort Myers High School prides itself on the variety of opportunities it offers students, including a shop class. “That’s why I wanted to come here,” said Elias Vargas, who is in 10th grade, “because of the auto program.”
Several students enjoyed a surprise when Chastain was waiting for them in the shop. “These kids, they’re getting to get out of the normal classes and take this automotive class and they could be working on my race car in a few years,” Chastain said, “if that’s the path they want to take.”
Chastain’s goal is to offer support and encouragement for the many students. “These kids are learning in high school and the work South Fort Myers High School is doing here is something that I wish all schools could have this,” he said. “I understand that all schools have to fit into the spot, but this is a dream opportunity for a lot of kids.”
Emily Martin, a junior at South Fort Myers High School and a lead technician, said the class shows how a community can influence each other. She told WINK News Chastain’s presence alone reassured her about her goals for the future. “It just makes us feel really good about what we do and feel the support that our sponsors give us,” she said.
Chastain credits the community for the success that he has in his career so far. His next race will be at the Ford Championship Weekend at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. That is set for Nov. 15 to Nov. 17. NASCAR calls the race “the season’s most thrilling event” as the “playoffs boil down to this moment.”
Meanwhile, Chastain hopes this short pitstop at South Fort Myers High School will inspire the next generation, including Vargas. “It inspires me because you get to see other people that just started off like we have and made their way up to working on different cars and being in the shop,” Vargas said.