Virginia Works Newsletter
April - May 2004


Justin Helms is the 20-year old protégé of Martinsville, Virginia. "I have the fullest confidence that Martinsville, Virginia has not heard the last of what Justin Helms will contribute to the NASCAR motor sport industry," said Joey Arrington, owner of Arrington Engines of Martinsville, Virginia. Justin is the youngest engine builder on the circuit. He has developed both mechanical and technical skills when it comes to building race engines. He did not accomplish this without the educational training that coexisted along with his on-the-job training. This is the equivalent of a four-year Motor Sports Degree in my book," says Mr. Arrington.

As an employee of Arrington Engines, Justin's contribution to the world of racing has been building a color-coded "half engine" that is used by sportscasters when demonstrating what mechanically happens to an engine during a NASCAR race.

Justin apprenticed at Arrington Engines as an Engine Manufacturer from March 2000 to his completion date of March 2004. He not only apprenticed for 8000 hours, he also applied himself to the classroom work that is needed to become proficient in the trade. He far exceeded the 576 hours of classroom training that was needed for the State of Virginia 's Apprenticeship Program.

"Justin Helms is ready to receive his Certification of Completion and journeyman card from Virginia's Apprenticeship Program," says Patricia Moore of the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry's Apprenticeship Program. Justin says," My goal is, more horsepower, that is the Name of the Game." Before Justin could receive his Certificate of Completion, Joey Arrington had to verify for the Apprenticeship Program that Justin was proficient in all of his on-the-job work processes. That has been done, and the Certificate of Completion as an Engine Manufacturer was presented on March 21, 2004. Six new apprentices were also added on that date. Students are apprenticing as Disassembly Technicians, Engineer Research and Development, Block Specialist and Raw Materials and Parts Handler. More apprentices will be added in the future.

Henry County School System's Gloria Foley searched through the students at Bassett High School and selected Justin to interview at Arrington Engines and be a student in Virginia's Apprenticeship Program. Justin was not the first student interviewed. He was the second, but he came in first in this race.

After graduation from high school, Justin attended Patrick Henry Community College and applied himself in the trade courses of electricity, drafting, and small engine repair. He transferred to Danville Community College to complete his Associate Degree in the Precision Machining Course.

Arrington said parents or caretakers should be very aware of what interests their child, and, if they run to the television set on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday to watch a race, there is a message there the parent should tune in to. "The NASCAR profession offers a wide array of job opportunities for Martinsville's youth," noted Mr. Arrington. "You must be willing to step on the other side of the line."

Mr. Arrington has a deep pride and a strong belief in achievement and success for Martinsville youth and is presently apprenticing another young man, Bryan Goodman. Patrick Henry Community College actually comes to the company and has engine labs on site. It is a perfect marriage of on-the-job training and class work. Mr. Arrington is planning to continue to expand his apprenticeship program.


The Virginia Voluntary Apprenticeship Program was established in 1938. Apprenticeship training is used in more than 300 occupations in Virginia. There are currently over 11,000 registered apprentices employed by more than 1,900 employers throughout the Commonwealth. For more information about Apprenticeship and to find your local field representative, visit our Web site.

By Patricia Moore, Apprenticeship Field Representative, Abingdon Field Office.

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Last Updated: Friday, April 23, 2004 9:50 AM