Humpy Wheeler visits Isothermal Community College

Nov. 01, 2013 @ 04:50 AM

Isothermal Community College (ICC) hosted a special reception on Wednesday at The Foundation with Humpy Wheeler.

Howard Augustine “Humpy” Wheeler Jr., is the past president and general manager of NASCAR’s Charlotte Motor Speedway and chairman of The Wheeler Company, a management consulting firm focused on professional sports.

The event was held to raise money for the college’s development fund.

“I met Humpy in my prior life as a public official and we became friends. Some of his mother’s relatives are from Rutherford County and we struck up a friendship,” said Walter Dalton, president of ICC. “He is the greatest promoter of all time and a great humanitarian. He is great to do this for the college at no cost.”

Wheeler was born in Belmont and attended the University of South Carolina on a football scholarship and graduated with a degree in journalism. He has worked as a sports writer, television director, real estate manager and dirt track promoter. He also served as director of racing at Firestone Rubber and Tire Company.

He is credited with transforming the 1.5-mile speedway in Charlotte into one of the world’s premier auto racing venues. He’s a member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and has earned awards including National Auto Racing Promoter of the Year and the High Deery Memorial Award for outstanding service to the motorsports industry.

During the reception, Wheeler mingled with guests and signed copies of his recently released book “Growing up NASCAR: Racing’s Most Outrageous Promoter Tells All.”

“Walter is a great friend of mine and I’m glad to be here to help him. I’m a big believer in the community college system,” Wheeler said. “Isothermal is great and has wonderful courses.”

Chip Wilson, who claimed that he was the biggest race fan there, came out to get his diecast model cars signed.

“I haven’t missed a race since I was 5. Charlotte is my favorite track and he did everything to it,” Wilson said. “Without him there would be no pre-race show. We would just say ‘Start your engines and they would go.”

Wheeler also spoke to the attendees and bragged about the community college system. He believes that if students begin to learn new trades, the country will be able to get out of this recession. He gave an example by using Dr. Hans Selye’s theory that one of the forms of stress is the stress/fear of purposelessness.

“Today people have tremendous, wide-open, unbelievable amounts of things they can do. That’s difficult because they don’t know who they are,” Wheeler said. “What is going to pull us out of this is education and people trying to find the gap in a business and fill it.”

He ended the evening by telling stories about many people he had known that attended a community college, learned a trade and became successful in life.