Ia Hidden Star: /Ichris Anderson

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Chris Anderson has an interesting second job. Of course, you have to decide which is his first and which is his second.

Let’s call them Job No. 1 and Job No. 1A. Job No. 1 is Monday through Friday, when Anderson teaches seventh and eighth grade at Locust School in Locust, N.C. Job No. 1A is on Sundays, when Anderson is a jackman for NASCAR Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon.

“I’ve been doing the same thing for five years now,” Anderson said. “Five years with the same types of careers. Basically, you get used to it, but it does get frustrating. If you add up the hours, it’s kind of crazy.”

Anderson teaches history, spelling, writing, health and physical education. He also helps coach the basketball team at Locust. He played college football at Appalachian State, where he got a degree in education. Growing up in Tampa, Fla., Anderson wasn’t a race fan until he met Junior Johnson when a few teammates met the legendary driver and car owner.

From that brief meeting, Anderson saw he could translate his football career into a racing career. Ray Evernham, then Gordon’s crew chief, wanted to start a pit crew with people not working in the shop during the week, and Anderson was hired. His offensive lineman’s frame was well suited for the athletic work that has become standard for crewmen.

Evernham could see Anderson’s potential, and even though he didn’t immediately join Gordon’s crew as a jackman, Anderson was farmed out to other teams.

“I worked with different teams where either their jackman was injured or a person on the crew that was injured,” Anderson said. “Back then I was working for the (No. 25) car. If it worked out, I could help them, just like anybody trying to train to learn how to do it.”

He was a catch-can man and gas man with Hendrick Motorsports for four years before getting the chance to jack the car when Gordon’s Rainbow Warriors crew left for Dale Jarrett’s team before the 2000 season.

Anderson, in fact, was the only crewman who didn’t leave.

“It’s a little harder on me to move to different teams,” Anderson said. “Being a teacher, the schedule just works for me.”

And it’s quite a schedule.

“People think (teachers) work from 8:15 to 2:30,” Anderson said. “People think that’s it. It doesn’t happen. You put more than eight hours a day teaching. And then between practicing and working out, going to the race track – a race day is a 14-hour day – it gets long when you add all those up.”

Locust School is about 30 minutes from Hendrick’s shops in Harrisburg, N.C., and Anderson has to commute at least two nights a week during the season for an hour or two of pit practice. Plus, he works out three days a week to stay in shape.

Sundays are the longest. Sometimes, he leaves the Charlotte, N.C. area at 4 a.m. to fly to a track, and he doesn’t get home until late Sunday night.

“Usually, we don’t have to leave out until Sunday or possibly Saturday,” Anderson said. “I have at least one day of rest, I guess. I fly on a plane sometimes three hours, so I bring my (school) work with me sometimes, if we have any time.”

Saturday is the day he catches his breath.

“It doesn’t bother me,” Anderson said of the hectic schedule. “You just enjoy the little things like mowing the grass. Some people complain about other things, but I say, ‘That’s cool. Something different.’”

Anderson said he’s been tempted to hit the snooze button when the alarm clock rings, especially on Monday mornings.

“There’s plenty of them,” Anderson said. “There’s tons of those. But you do get used to the schedule. It’s stuff I’ve been doing for long enough. It’s a job, and I like it.”

And his students like it, too, even though “most of them won’t say because they’re at the age where it’s not cool,” Anderson said.

Being a crewman is cool, too, with NASCAR growing into a national sport. There’s plenty of pressure.

“You always think of not making mistakes,” Anderson said. “That’s where I try to grow each year. I can pick up speed, but what if I messed up? Then the whole thing’s done. Consistency, doing my job right every time, that’s kind of like any other sport. If you miss a person blocking (in football), you’re quarterback’s done.

“The first thing, you’ve got to get the car up. That’s the most important thing. There are a lot of other things that need to be done, but that’s the most important thing.”

Anderson is used to doing a lot of other things, but someday he realizes he might have to choose between Job No. 1 and Job No. 1A.

But that hasn’t come up, yet.

“I don’t know,” Anderson said. “In the summer, I work in the shop, too. Once day I guess I’ll have to choose careers, but right now, no. I do like to teach. I don’t know why some days, but I do enjoy my students.”

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