When Cohutta, Ga., native Justin Swilling was just 9 years old, his family took a vacation that would change his life, and set his course for a career in motorsports.

The Swilling family came to Concord, N.C. on a NASCAR vacation visiting everything the area had to offer, including a Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“We went to all the race shops and they were actually running a Summer Shootout race that Tuesday, and the rest is history,” remembers Swilling.

“My parents bought my first Bandolero when I was nine and we began racing in Atlanta. Several years after, we realized that the best competition was in Charlotte, so we began making the trip up to race the Summer Shootout once a week to race with the best.”

As Swilling’s passion for racing grew, his interest of the business side of the sport expanded as well.

Swilling, a sophomore at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C., was attracted to the college because of his love of motorsports.

“I’m going for a double major in sports management and motorsports management. And knowing the business behind the wheel and being in the office chair really helps in making calls and being on a race team,” said Swilling.

Swilling relocated to Concord from Cohutta two years ago for school. On top of juggling classes and racing, he most recently added working at the Richard Petty Driving Experience (RPDE) to his resume.  

“In March I was approached by a family friend who works for RPDE and he asked if I was looking for a summer job. I told him I was looking for any job in general, so he threw my name in the hat and after my interview I was hired that day,” reflects Swilling.

Besides receiving a paycheck from RPDE, Swilling is also gaining experience by getting seat time on the 1.5-mile superspeedway that most Summer Shootout Series drivers lack.

“Getting a chance to be on the track here, whether you’re doing ride alongs or racing, influences every part of your racing career,” said Swilling.

As far as Swilling’s future career plans go, he understands there are a limited number of seats in NASCAR, but that isn’t holding him back.

“I always tell people I like to have a Plan B for everything and my Plan B is to work in motorsports, whether it be the office chair or the driver’s seat,” said Swilling.

In Round Six of the Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series, Justin got his first win in the Quaker Steak and Lube Legends Car Pro division.

“The Pro division is so tight here and when you get a chance to run up front it’s a privilege, but when you get the shot to win especially running with people like Tyler Green, my brother and Daniel Hemric, it’s just the coolest thing ever,” Swilling said.

After winning Round Six, Swilling moved up to fifth in points, placing him only 33 points behind leader, Darrell Wallace Jr.

“We’ve been improving every week and I feel we’re peaking at the right time. The plan is to go out and win each week, and if you win each week, you’ll come home with a championship,” said Swilling.

In Round Seven of the Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series, Swilling finished in the top 10, keeping him in championship contention and fifth in the standings, just 45 points out of the lead.

The 19th annual Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series continues Tuesday with Round Eight featuring First Responders Night and the “Guns n’ Hoses” school bus race. In addition to the regular racing divisions, fans can watch as area police and firefighters compete in the final school bus slobberknocker of the Summer Shootout Series season. First responders can gain free admission by showing their police, firefighter or EMS IDs.

Gates open at 5 p.m. with opening ceremonies at 7 p.m. Tickets for the Summer Shootout Series are $7 for adults and are available in advance at the speedway ticket office or at Gates 4 and 5 the night of the event. Kids 13 and under get in free. The first 1,000 fans through the gates get a free water bottle courtesy of Jack in the Box.

For tickets to the Summer Shootout Series, call the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.

For live updates during the Summer Shootout Series, follow hashtag #SummerShootout on Twitter. To join in on the conversation simply include #SummerShootout in your tweet.

Connect with Charlotte Motor Speedway on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CLTMotorSpdwy or become a Facebook fan at www.facebook.com/charlottemotorspeedway.