As a manual machinist at Joe Gibbs Racing, Tom is responsible for working with the team’s mechanics and engineers to machine parts and components of the race car. Innovation is key to winning races and championships, and sometimes that competitive edge can come from even the smallest component, which makes Tom’s role as a machinist crucial to the team’s success.
How did you get into motorsports?
My passion for motorsports has been passed down from generation to generation in my family. Growing up, I spent a lot of my time with my father attending races. As time went on, I began to meet others in the industry who eventually helped me find my way into the sport.
Why would you recommend a career in skilled trades?
The greatest part about working in the trades is the opportunity to take on a skill that you’ll be able to take with you the rest of your life. A career in the trades gives you the opportunity to make the things that ultimately shape the world, and that is so rewarding. As with many things, the trades give you the opportunity to reap the benefits of hard work and dedication – the harder you work at mastering your trade, the more opportunities you can have.
“The greatest part about working in the trades is the opportunity to take on a skill that you’ll be able to take with you the rest of your life.”
What advice do you have for students or individuals who may be considering pursuing skilled trades?
Work hard and always take pride in what you do. Never give up on your dreams. Skilled trades are what helped me land my dream job and they can do the same for you if you stick with it.
What’s your biggest career accomplishment to date?
I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of three different Championships at Joe Gibbs Racing. It’s gratifying to see the parts that I make become a part of the race car and ultimately contribute to winning championships.
Can you tell me a little bit about your relationship with your son and how the passion for motorsport has now been passed on to him?
Similar to my relationship with my dad, I’ve been able to build a love of motorsport with my son, Travis. By middle school, Travis started to come to the race shop with me and he quickly realized that he wanted to focus on engineering and car design. By high school, Travis was building race parts on his own and eventually got the opportunity to compete at Skills USA. Following his higher education, Travis actually landed a job at another NASCAR team. We thoroughly enjoy competing against one another on a professional level!
What’s one misperception that people have about your job?
A common misperception about the machining trade is that my job is to simply “press a button.” The truth, however, is that there is much skill needed to create something with the incredible amount of accuracy that is required. A machinist must be able to read and interpret engineering drawings, set up the precision equipment, use critical thinking skills to get the job done most efficiently in a fast-paced and sometimes stressful environment.