JVS grad’s success fuels hope for others

INSPIRING OTHERS — Kyle Lyke, a junior in the automotive service technology program at Jefferson County Joint Vocational School, hopes to work on a NASCAR race crew one day and is inspired by alumnus Kevin Gladman, who served on the crew for Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon in February. -- Contributed

BLOOMINGDALE — Jefferson County Vocational School alumnus Kevin Gladman’s success as a member of the pit crew for Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon is fueling hopes for the next generation by inspiring future graduates to seek a similar path.

Gladman, who hails from Cadiz and participated in JCJVS’s automotive service technology program, is remembered by past school officials as a great student who was motivated to seek a career in the racing industry.

“He had great attendance and great grades. He was the perfect student,” said former English and history teacher Barbara Nelson. “I knew he was (at the Daytona 500) for Austin Dillon.”

Retired AST instructor Francis “Bud” Liptok, who had taught Gladman in the program, congratulated him on his career achievement and said they still keep in touch through social media.

“He had ideas and he knew where he was going when he was in high school,” he said. “He was a great student and went on to college (at University of Northern Ohio) and got his associate degree. He was an all-around good man. I congratulated him and told him his hard work paid off. He was always into racing from the time he was in school.”

Seeing an alumnus’ accomplishment has other teens, such as junior AST student Kyle Lyke, eyeing themselves in such a career.

“He got a good education in what he does. He went through the auto service program and went to UNOH to work with specific cars,” Lyke said, noting he is inspired to follow Gladman’s footsteps. “I’ve been watching NASCAR for a long time and thought it would be cool to be on a crew.”

Lyke, who attends Edison High School, hopes to move on to the Universal Technical Institute’s NASCAR Technician Training Program in North Carolina.

Meanwhile, current instructor Ron Reasoner said the field is fierce but the AST program can connect students to a plethora of careers in the automotive industry.

UNOH also has its own racing team and the group travel the country, giving students a real sense of what it’s like to be part of the action.

Reasoner continued that many careers could come from studying in the JVS program.

“Auto service tech is for entry-level auto techs. However, it could go in quite a few different directions. Going through the program, it teaches skills and theory behind auto service. Having this is a good foundation and it is a precursor to moving onto college or something like that. The vast majority go into auto tech.”

In addition to working in the racing industry, AST grads also can become automotive technicians, parts and sales representatives, a business manager at a parts facility or even work in auto manufacturing.