Mount Airy native living life in the fast lane

First Posted: 7/16/2009

Mount Airy native Adam Badgett said watching NASCAR racing on television has taken on a new turn for him lately.
As the head of Computer Network Controls (CNC), or the machinist department, for Kevin Harvick Inc. during the past three years, the outcome each weekend now has a little bit more meaning.
If Harvick, or any of the other drivers owned by the team, does exceptionally well, it means Badgett has done his job and can enjoy the spoils of victory.
If something goes wrong, the mood at work on Monday can be a little testy.
But Badgett said the aspect which has added the most to the fun and the tension comes from the personal touch added by working hands-on in the business of NASCAR.
I have a better understanding of whats going on, whats in the background to make it all happen, he said. Yeah definitely, it makes it more interesting to watch when you know someone out there rather than just pulling for someone random.
Badgett designs the parts for all three cars under the Harvick team banner Harvicks Nationwide ride and two Craftsmen Truck Series cars, driven by Ron Hornaday Jr. and Ricky Carmichael.
He takes what the crew chiefs and other engineers work out for each parts specifications and goes from there on his own, programming and operating the machine which creates and molds these precious and expensive parts.
I design the parts for the race cars and program them for the machine to build them, he said. A lot of times the crew chief will come and tell me what they want and I have to come up with it from there.
With Harvick and company entrusting Badgett and his co-workers with millions of dollars worth of equipment, one would think Badgett might be an accomplished engineer with a wall full of plaques and diplomas marking his education into the business.
But Badgett doesnt have a formal degree, getting all of his experience and know-how from 11 years of hands-on training, and like most who succeed in the racing business, from being born right in the middle of a racing family.
Adams dad, Freddy Badgett Jr., worked with numerous well-known racers from the area, including Frank Fleming and Billy Hicks while Adam was growing up.
My dad has always been around racing since he was young and he brought me up in it, Badgett said. Youve got to understand what the race cars are doing and the force that is being put on them. He was always building race cars his whole life and setting them up and going to the track every week. He used to help Frank Fleming and Billy Hicks set their cars up and go to the track with them.
The younger Badgett began his professional mechanical career at Stolle Technology in Winston-Salem, where he worked for six years as an advanced machinist, also running the company the last three years of his employment. From there he moved to Mega Machine in Mocksville where he did similar work to his current position with Harvick Inc., then on to Harvick.
But thats not his only experience in the machine and racing world, as Badgett has been building and tinkering with cars since he built his first Volkswagon beetle when he was 16.
I built my first motor for a Volkswagon that I drove to high school, he said. I mainly just fool with the Volkswagon stuff. Ive probably had over 30. Its just kind of what Ive always been into. I built my own heads and half my motor in my drag car. Between me and my brother, we do all my own transmissions and motors.
Between his job with Harvick Inc. and his wife Dedra, who is expecting, Badgetts passion is his 1965 Volkswagon Beetle drag car, aptly named the Hyper Beetle.
The fiberglass hooded, full drag car has a 1641 cc motor, with turbo and nitrous and close to 500 horsepower.
Badgett said he has topped out at 115 mph at Farmingtons 1/8th mile drag course.
At 29, Badgett has entered a world which millions of NASCAR fans worldwide could envy, with access to sights, people and sounds which not an average machinist comes across every day.
Not one to drop names, Badgett admitted it has been fun coming in contact with faces from the NASCAR world and to know his efforts lead to a strong competitor, adding it also has been eye opening to see just how normal these big named drivers can be.
It is great just making parts for a winning race team, he said. We win multiple races every year and some teams race for years and never do. Its interesting to see the people that come around, the different caliber of people. People you used to only see on television and then they come in the shop and talk to you and hang out. Every one of them I have met were down to earth, just like anybody else.
Badgett is obviously down to earth himself and said he hopes to continue his career in the racing business. So the next time Kevin Harvicks No. 33 flies around the track, know that Badgett and several other Mount Airy natives had a strong hand in making the car what it is, putting a Mount Airy touch on a national pastime.
Contact Thomas Smith at [email protected] or 719-1920.

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