WEST PALM BEACH,Fla.- Numerous racers come from the classroom to race track, Mitchell McKinney, considers himself fortunate to have summers off to live out his passion of racing.
The Newland, N.C., native, who earned his degree at Appalachian State University, is a physical education teacher at Avery Middle School in Newland and also owns an auto detailing business during the week.
However, on the weekend McKinney is a serious racer who claimed the Wilkesboro track championship in 2018 in the Top class along with an invite to the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Summit SuperSeries World Finals.
“My students always ask me about my racing results,” Mitchell McKinney said. “They think racing is cool and enjoy it when I bring in winning trophies.”
His job as a physical education teacher helps him on the track. Involved in sports his whole life, he feels being in shape allows him to stay focused on cutting good lights. McKinney’s goal is to be a great bracket racer and his focus on improvement comes in terms of mental focus and finishing the race at the finish line.
McKinney got his start in racing after he and his father Clyde McKinney hung out at Wilkesboro Dragway while he was in high school. His father bought a 1969 Chevelle to race, while Mitchell used the truck they towed the car with as his race vehicle for the weekend. The rest they say is history with the father and son duo hooked ever since.
After McKinney graduated out of the truck, he bought the yellow 1969 Z/28 Camaro he races today at IHRA member tracks Farmington and Wilkesboro. Over time, the car has seen its share of upgrades including a 509-cubic inch Bill Mitchell crate engine that runs on pump gas at 9:1 compression putting out 650 horsepower. McKinney also has a Pro Systems carburetor along with nitrous to give him that extra boost.
“I feel I have a dream career of being a teacher while getting to live the dream of racing each weekend,” McKinney said. “I try to proactively set positive standards in my student’s eyes which also carry over to the track to helping win races.